This page is devoted to questions and answers that have been asked about topics related to beading. Browse through the questions mentioned below to see what others are thinking about beading. If you have a question you’d like to ask about jewelry or craft making, email Bailey Beader at [email protected] or post your question to our blog.
Q: I am a beadweaver/stringer and want to branch out. I’ve been trying to wrap wire for some earrings and the results are less than desirable. Does anyone have any recommendations or know of a video online I can view to help me out?
A: There are tons of tutorials around for making wrapped wire loops. Artbeads has one on their site here.
It does take some practice, but the more of them you make, the neater and more uniform they’ll become. These are really handy, secure loops you can use for tons of different projects.
Attaching Chain to Wire
Q: As a new beader, how do I attach chain to bead wire? I want to use some chain and then bead the rest on wire to the clasp.
A: To complete this look you can use a crimp tube to crimp the jewelry wire to a link on the chain, or you could crimp the wire to a jump ring and use a jump ring to connect it to the chain. For help with crimping, you can watch the Handy Tip Video at Artbeads.com.
Length of Beading Wire
Q: When I measure out wire, I always measure too much. Are there standard sizes for necklaces that with an extender could be used for everyone? Are there standard sizes as well if I wanted to use a clasp? How much wire to I actually cut to accommodate that actual size?
A: I usually cut about 4″ more beading wire than I think I’m going to need … this leaves me a tail of a couple of inches on either side for crimping.
Standard sizes for necklaces are 16″, 18″, 20″ and 24″ for the most part, but there’s a certain amount of variation that you can certainly get away with. 16″ will sit right at the collar bone, and 24″ will drape down to your belly button, and often doesn’t need a clasp because it’s long enough to just loop over your head. I’m a “use what works” kind of a person, so I tend to keep the wire on the spool and feed the beads on …. I might drape it around my neck while it’s in progress to test the length, then when I’m finished beading I’ll attach the clasps and do my crimps, and I don’t have any wasted beading wire that way. Do what works for you!
A: This is an interesting topic because an 18 inch necklace can be too tight and not wearable on one person, be too long on the next person, and be just right on the third person. That problem applies to each of the other lengths as well. A one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t work because someone may want to wear the necklace close to the neck, the next person wants to wear the necklace under the collar of a blouse and have it cascade down the front a little bit. There are as many needs as there are people and different pieces of clothing.
Make necklaces in a variety of lengths so you can have something for a variety of people. Since I finish each necklace with wire guards (or thimbles) I can add chain to make the necklace longer. Using thimbles at the ends, you can add jump rings to them to make them longer as well.
Double Strand Necklaces
Q: I’m attempting to make my first double strand necklace and I was hoping for advice on some of the pitfalls I should be wary of.
A: I think the trickiest part of making multiple strand pieces is getting the section where the strands come together to lay nicely. This will be determined by the type of beads you are using and how you finish the ends of the strands to the clasp. Often finishing the strands individually onto jump rings and then connecting them to your clasp can alleviate some of the jumbling, it gives them a little mobility. Adjusting the beads sizes so that the beads taper smaller toward the clasp can help as well.
Securing Heavier Gemstones
Q: I enjoy working with larger, heavier gemstones. Sometimes my finished pieces fall apart. The string slips out of the crimp! Am I working with the wrong bead stringing wire or crimps?
A: I’m curious as to what you are using now? I would recommend 7lb test tigertail wire. I use heavy gem stones sometimes too! That’s what I use. Also, use crimp beads and crimp covers to hide the crimp beads. Don’t forget the cable thimbles as well though. This helps the stringing material that you choose NOT to fray!
A: I’ve been stringing for over 3 years. After about 6 months I gave up on the usual crimp beads and crimp tubes because both were not secure enough. I use twisted crimp tubes which Artbeads sells and they work much better than the plain kind. The only time I had a problem with the twisted crimps was when I accidentally didn’t thread the wire through the crimp! I couldn’t understand why the necklace kept getting longer and longer. I took a look at the crimp with my magnifying glass and saw that I hadn’t threaded the wire through the crimp. Well, I took the necklace apart and rethreaded it and then there was no problem.
Also, be sure to use at least .019/49 strand size beading wire for heavier beads. If my necklace is long – say 30 inches – I use two twisted crimp tubes – size 2×3 – on each side near the clasp. One person, who bought such a necklace from me two years ago, wears that long necklace frequently and she has had no problems with breakage.
I don’t know how heavy your beads are, but there is a .024/49 strand beading wire which you might like to try, but I don’t know how well the twisted crimp tubes will work with that size strand as I have never needed to use that thickness. I’m sure Artbeads will be able to tell you if the twisted crimp tubes work with that wire.
The only time I use the #1 crimp beads is when I am working with .013/49 silver plated wire for my crystal bracelets and then I just flatten the beads since I am working with 4 strands of the wire (yes, you really can get four strands through those tiny crimp beads).
A: I think that this blog article might help with your problem somewhat. I use 7 strand Beadalon nylon-covered stainless steel (simply because I got a rockin’ deal on a HUGE amount of it on EBay, to be honest), and 2mm crimps. I make quite heavy watches out of semi-precious gems and lampwork and since I’ve been using the above blog tips, I’ve had no more slipping crimps!
A: I have used wire up to size 24 but 19 seems to work just fine on heavy stones. Or I use two thinner wires, like two 14s. I favor two different types of crimps. One is the twisted crimp, which works well on the thicker wire. I also use standard 2 x 2 crimps but I only use sterling silver, not plated. The silver is softer than the plate and crimps well. Once in a while, with a very heavy necklace, I might use two crimps.
A: My own rules of thumb….
Use the heaviest beading wire that will fit through the holes in your beads. Fortunately larger and heavier gemstone beads tend to have larger holes.
If I’m in any doubt as to the sturdiness of my piece, I’ll throw another crimp on either end … usually a bead or two away from the first crimp.
Also, crimps are one of those things you just should not cheap out on. I only use nice, heavy sterling silver or gold filled crimp tubes, and the difference is unbelievable. They don’t break like the cheaper plated ones, and they form a tighter crimp on the wire, so slippage is far less likely.
Securing a Non-Round Bead to a Headpin for Earrings
Q: This is a question for earring makers. Do you secure (like glue) beads that are not round, such as flat coins, top to bottom drilled tear drops, or beads that have a clear back and front, to your headpin so they do not turn? So that they face the right way. I have been doing this and have been having a hard time getting the glue to stay. Even say days to a week after when I go to finish the earrings the beads always come loose. I have tried E600, GS Hypo, and Aleene’s. I am using mostly semi precious and some glass attached to sterling silver.
I noticed on etsy alot of sellers seem to not be securing their stones. Personally I don’t want the earrings to turn. But now I don’t know, since I see so many obviously not glued. Since I have never purchased earrings b4 that have stones I wonder if they are secured when bought from a store.
So do you secure them and if so how you do attach them so they stay.
A: Personally, I don’t … I let them swing free, or I wire wrap them to keep them stationary.
It certainly sounds like you’ve run the gamut of jewelry grade adhesives, so I’m not sure that there are any other products out there that will secure it better. If you’re talking about square or coin shaped beads that you’re trying to keep facing forward, the best advice I can offer you is to add some decorative wire wrapping that will keep them facing in the direction you want.
I’ve done a lot of earrings with oddly shaped beads, and it doesn’t bother me if they twist a little bit. If they’re completely sideways, I’ll use my fingers to face them back forward, and they’ll usually stay more or less in the same place … rarely do they go into a full spin or anything.
Glue for Metal
Q: Any suggestions I can use on metal? I am gluing a piece to a ring.
A: The glue you need would depend on the weight and size of the piece you are gluing. For something heavier, such as a gemstone or cabochon, your best options would be E6000 glue or any form of epoxy. If it is something lighter, such as a piece of paper, you would probably be safe using something like Gem-Tac permanent adhesive.
Supplies for Beginners?
Q: I am just getting started in jewelry making. What beginning tools and supplies would you recommend?
A: For basic stringing the essential tools would be a crimping tool and nippers. Stringing material such as ZambaPro, beadalon etc, in a mid range size such as ZambaPro™ 49 .019 30FT Jewelry Wire. And crimp tubes such as sterling silver 2x2mm Crimp Tube can be used for most stringing projects. Later you will want to add a thinner jewelry wire for beads with small drill holes and larger jewelry wire for larger hole beads and heavy pieces. At that point you will want to add smaller and larger crimp tubes.
For wire work you will want chain nose pliers, round nose pliers and side cutters. These will allow you to open and close jump rings, make simple and wrapped loops on head pins and eye pins and make your own connections and findings with sterling silver half hard wire. 20 or 22 gauge would be a good size to start with.
Finishing Stretchy Bracelets
Q: What kind of knot works for the stretchy “fishing line” type string for bracelets? I can never seem to keep a knot tight and with a tug the beads all come off.
A: I would just do a basic knot or over hand knot. To keep the knot tight, I like to place a dab of GS Hypo cement over it. While the glue is still wet, slip the knot inside a bead to finish.
Stretch-Resistant Bead Cord
Q: Please help me find a beading thread that does not stretch. I have been making seed bead rings, size 11/0 and also delicas. After a few days of wear, the rings are falling off my fingers, and my sister said so too, about the rings I made for her. What kind of thread should I be using?
A: I like Wildfire for its durability, flexibility and its resistance to stretching. It comes in black which can impart a darkness to your overall work especially if you are working with translucent beads. Fireline is also strong, flexible and resistant to stretching. It comes in clear which is better for light or translucent beads. Both of these wires come in several sizes, so choose the appropriate thickness for the bead sizes you are working with.
Q: What are some tips when doing tubular netting?
A: When doing tubular netting, hold the tube at the very top, where you are adding beads between your thumb and index finger. After adding a bead, pull the beads tight, then rotate the tube so you can see the next bead you need to run your needle through.
It helps to make the bead you pass your needle through a different color than the beads that form the net string of beads. This way you can always see the bead you need to pass the needle through. When you get to the last bead addition of the row, you will need to go down in a ditch a little. Watch out for this spot, because it is easy to miss it and then end up with one less net per row.
The Business of Jewelry Making
Q: I have tried Etsy and my own website without success. The biggest problem I had was photographing my work. I am using a Nikon coolpix camera and followed the directions for shooting upclose but I still have shadows and glare!
Maybe those of you selling on Etsy can share your suggestions…
Etsy Sellers: Is it succesful for you? It looks like a business where the work can get lost with the thousands of sellers. Are there really buyers out there?
A: Regarding your photos, I was wondering if you are using a lightbox? You don’t have to purchase one, you can make one. There are tutorials all over the internet for a lightbox, or mini photo-tent. These really make a difference in the way your pictures look. Also, the type of light you use. Full sunlight is the best, as you get the best color, but full spectrum lights work great too.
A: I used to have a shop on Etsy and I did not make any sales. I think I had it for a year. I really didn’t put much effort into it though. It needs a lot of effort to get noticed. I think you have to republish your items constantly and many people do that.
As far as a website goes, I haven’t really gotten much business from mine except from people I already know. I think you need a website to show that you are in the business of selling jewelry. You can use the website to show people you meet a sampling of what you have.
Personal effort seems to be the best way to sell – shows, galleries, beauty shops, etc.
A: To some extent, good photos really play great function. However, PRICE is the very thing that really matters. We are not Bill Gates, so price talks. In addition, advertising is very important, selling successfully means the products you listed should be well-known to buyers. How? By ads, or by right listing time, etc.
A: I’ve had an online store for a couple of years, now … and it’s certainly not successful enough to support me, but I’ve made a few sales and I get about 20 visitors a day. My store is through Artfire (which I feel has better tools and prices than Etsy) and I use Google Adwords to advertise it. A lot of my traffic comes from posting on boards like these, and from joining contests and donating select pieces of my work to charity auctions. My feeling is that if you want to sell online, you have to do a LOT of off-site promotion, one way or another.
Good photos are a must. I fortunately have a cousin who is a very good photographer, and she’s taught me a LOT over the years about shooting jewelry, which isn’t easy. I’d absolutely advise you to get or make a light box, 2 full-spectrum lights, and a tripod for your camera. You wouldn’t believe the difference that these tools make.
For photographing pearls and crystals, I’ve found that if I place one light above the light box and one light beside it, I get a minimum of shadows and a nice glint on the beads.