25 Beading Tips Learned Along The Way

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While I haven’t been at this that long, I have picked up a few tips I think are worth sharing.

  1. place a ruler at the edge of your worktable (near your chest) to stop beads from rolling off
  2. surround yourself with beading mats for your handy tools, no one likes to hear the sound of you constantly putting your flat nose pliers down on the table, over and over and over
  3. gather up what you “think” you will need before you begin a new project and keep those supplies within an arm’s reach to prevent interruptions
  4. when Plan A isn’t working, take a break, take a nap, sleep on it, a fix usually surfaces. Embrace your Plan B’s when it doesn’t.
  5. save imperfect beads for projects that don’t require perfection, don’t throw them out
  6. when you finish a project, continue to keep “those beads” on your work table for a few days, you are bound to find stray beads later.
  7. work under really good light. I have two Ott-Lites. A floor model and a portable one with handle.
  8. until you are able to eyeball bead sizes, keep the labels that came with the beads. If you transfer beads to a different container, move the label too.
  9. beads you are sure you will never, never, ever use… donate, giveaway, get them out of sight so you aren’t wasting valuable “thinking” time when you see them in your bead stash.
  10. wrap clear plastic packing tape around your hand, get down on your hands and knees to search the floor for wayward beads (or use a Crafter’s Vacuum)
  11. don’t throw out leftover lengths of beading thread, I use them when practicing a new stitch. Same with stringing wire. Keep anything longer than 12″.
  12. keep small baggies and small containers handy to keep projects organized
  13. to keep searching to a minimum, store like items together, such as clasps, spacers, jumprings
  14. if having trouble threading a needle, stick the tip of another needle through the eye opening, it could be clogged with thread conditioner
  15. when an idea hits me, I gather up like or complementary items and put them in a ziplock bag. When the mood hits, I reach for one of those project bags.
  16. eventually you will have to replace your beading tools, but hang on to the old ones. I use them for things such as pulling needles through stitches.
  17. hold up your finished item to the light and look for strands of thread fibers sticking out through the beads, use your “good” flat nose pliers to get a good grip on the fibers to pull out.
  18. store your finished jewelry in baggies to protect the metal used. You can also buy special anti-tarnishing bags and strips.
  19. make a note of ideas immediately, make a sketch, don’t let the next best thing since sliced bread vanish into thin air!!
  20. I keep a journal of date started/finished, supplies used, where purchased, measurements. Useful when offering items for sale; gold-plated, gold filled, sterling silver, etc.
  21. when designing make note of number of beads used. Example: to remake that perfect peyote toggle you made last month, check your notes. String 14 seedbeads (8/0) and peyote 4 rows. Your notes will prove useful and save designing time.
  22. keep manufacturer labels, you never know when you might need the exact name of something, color, measurements, details on how to purchase more.
  23. one of my favorite items I reach for again and again probably cost 10 cents. A red plastic spoon. I use it all the time to dish out beads when beginning a project. Separate colors. Scoop up beads when finished, to return to their containers.
  24. take photos, you will need them for craft show applications, contests, eBay, Etsy or just for your own enjoyment.
  25. Remember to have FUN!!

Calling All Ice Resin Experts…

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I have been researching how best to turn my recycled watch parts into paperweights. So far, from what I have read, Ice Resin seems like the best solution.

This is what I am trying to do. Make the beads and items sitting on top of the beads into one solid clear piece. To be used as a desk decoration or as a small work of art, standing on its side or sitting flat.

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There are so many do’s and don’t’s. I had to bookmark all the information so I wouldn’t get confused. Most of the sites provided the same details. I even watched two video demonstrations.

One question I don’t have an answer for… yet… is whether or not the resin can be poured into a small wood frame.

One concern I have is about the potential for bubbles ruining my crafty work. One site said if using beads, to put a bit of glue inside EACH BEAD. I am guessing each frame has about 400 seed beads, maybe more. That would take a year. There has to be a better way to do this.

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And I am wondering if I can’t just pour the resin in the frame and ‘place’ the items on top. Is it absolutely necessary to completely cover the items. Won’t they still stick in the solution?

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I got some really good tips. Work in a well ventilated area and use a fan if possible. Wear a mask even though Ice Resin isn’t supposed to be fumey. Place a sheet of plastic, like a large white garbage bag, on top of your work space. Ice Resin won’t stick to plastic. Don’t reuse the mixing cup or stirrer. Always start fresh. I am glad I saw that as I probably would have recycled them.

Have you ever used Ice Resin? Were you happy with the results? Any advice for someone new to this? I have to tell you… I failed gluing. I NEVER get the items glued per the instructions. I am hoping I have better luck with resin.

Naming My Jewelry

This is THE absolute hardest part for me.

I can “see” something and create it. But when finished all that creativity escapes me. I am at a lost for words when the time comes to pick a name to describe my jewelry pieces.

How do you do it?

What inspires your jewelry names?

  • beads used
  • design or pattern
  • colors or textures
  • mother nature
  • places you’ve been

Or do you just make it up with no thought to the piece at all?

Help!! I need some help. I spend far too much time on this. It is driving me batty.

Patterns for Peyote Heart Cuff Bracelet

Here are two patterns to make your own peyote heart cuff bracelet. I started with a base row of 12 size 8/0 seed beads.

First pattern is for one heart. Just keep repeating the pattern to create as many hearts as you want. Put as many background rows as you wish before and after each heart.

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The second pattern has hearts in an up and down formation.

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After finishing peyoting to the length I wanted, I added a single row of the background color at the top and bottom using brick stitch. That allowed the hearts to stand out and not fall off the edges. You don’t have to add the additional rows if you don’t wish.

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As you can see in this last photo, the bracelet isn’t finished yet. I haven’t added the additional top and bottom rows of brick stitch. So this is how it looks before adding them.

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If you have trouble making out the patterns, I can e-mail them. Have fun!!


Go here to print out a peyote graph.

http://www.spiritconnectionstore.com/peyote-graph.htm

New Words For My Tool Vocabulary

Wednesday, July 23

How many of you have ever used a Pen Vice or Hemostat?

Looking around. Ok. One person. LOL!! Thought so.

If you are like me, clueless in the tool shed, not only have you never used them, you never even HEARD of them.

So… here’s the thing. (To coin a phrase from Adrian Monk.) I was sitting in class Sunday looking at the pile of tools covering the beading mat. And I mean covering it. There were several that looked the same, only difference being the tip. Round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, flat nose pliers, wire cutters. And a tape measure, polish cloth, file, scissors. Also included were tools used especially for ring making. A long metal ring mandrel, various plastic ring sizes on a chain, a rawhide mallet, a PEN VICE and a HEMOSTAT. Wow!! I had seen them all except the last two. No clue what they were or would be used for. After class, I decided to purchase these two and add them to my collection.

The Pen Vice is used to twist wire. It is pretty cool WHEN the wire is inserted into the right spot. The only thing moving on my first attempt was my wrist. LOL!! Did you know round wire will not twist?

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A hemostat is like a very long pair of scissors that clamps down tightly on an object. When making rings, it holds the shank in place so you do not have to worry about it shifting.

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I will probably use the hemostat a lot. It will come in handy to hold wire when wirewrapping. Not sure how much use I will get out of the pen vice but it was cute, all nice and shiny. :D

New Tools.. Can I Use These For My Toothache?

Friday, July 11

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Not feeling so hot today, nor did I yesterday. Though shortly after experiencing some of the worst pain I have ever endured, I was walking straight enough to browse through the craft store aisles looking for new wireworking tools.

It all started two weeks ago at the dentist. What was supposed to be only a new filling turned out to be a hot nerve that needed to be taken out. Ok. I wasn’t happy but what can you do. You have to take care of your teeth if you want them to grow old with you. Made do with a temporary filling for 2 weeks to let the area cool off and heal. Then it was back to the dentist. Yesterday. The left side of my face was already still sore and my head hurt. And it just got worse as the minutes passed.

During the next hour, you would have thought I was having major surgery without any pain killers. It was that painful. My dentist, bless his heart, stopped several times during the procedure to allow me to catch my breath, giving me a relief break in between the drilling, filing and poking. I went through 4 or 5 hot towels. Boy did they feel good next to my jaw.

Afterwards, they asked me if I had any errands to run. They wanted me to go straight home and rest. I said no, I didn’t. Well, I guess I lied since I knew my next stop was the craft store come hell or high water. Fat lip, swollen face, aches and pains. All of that and it was off to do some shopping.

These are my new goodies. My new wireworking tools.

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I got a hammer with plastic ends to minimize the damage to the wire. A metal block for banging on. A ring thingy. Mandrel I think it is called. For making rings in different sizes. Also for making jump rings. And more 20 gauge wire. Oh.. and also in the photo is my other wireworking jig. The Thing-A-Ma-Jig. That is what it looks like.

So, today, sometime today, I am going to start pounding and hammering. I took two Advil an hour ago. I should be good to go soon. Sure wish I could have used these tools yesterday. To pound on my head.

Practicing With My Coiling Gizmo

Friday, July 4

Still reading my wireworking books. Still working with my practice wire. And learning all about my new thing-a-my-bob.

The Coiling Gizmo.

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Recently, a friend sent me a box of wonderful things. She had my name in the Fourth of July Pal Exchange. Included in the box was a gadget to curl and make things out of wire. It is called The Coiling Gizmo.

I immediately took it out of the box and started twirling wire on it right away. Didn’t even read the instructions. Not that there was much to read in the first place. From looking at the carton, I stuck the metal rod in the hole and turned. That’s it.

Well…actually there was a bit more to it. And I did have to give a shout out to hubby in the next room. He had to make a trip to the basement to dig out a C clamp for me. The directions called for either screwing the Gizmo into a block of wood or clamping it to a table with a C clamp. To tell you the truth, I never even heard of a C clamp and didn’t know if hubby had either. But 5 seconds later, there he was with C clamp in hand. :D

I have it clamped to one of the work tables in my craft room. For now I will leave it where it is. It is out of the way of my beading and macrame areas. And since I am still in the learning, testing and messing up stages, I won’t need a lot of room.

So far, I have used up most of my 26 gauge red, navy and cream wire. I twirled it and made long coils. Now I have to figure out what to do with them. I shaped them into loops and twisted them together trying to decide what part of the body they would look best on. I added some bronze seed beads to the cream coils. Not sure where I am going with this. Just thinking and moving stuff around. My better half suggested I braid the coils. Hmmm. I think I will pass on that suggestion.

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What I have learned is that 26 gauge is very easy to work with. Mainly suited for wirewrapping. Not sturdy enough for much else. Also I have learned I don’t much like working with 16 gauge practice wire. It is WAY TOO HARD to bend.

Everything I have read said to practice with inexpensive wire. But it also said expensive wire is easier to work with. Go figure. I want to learn but I don’t want to make my hands ache anymore than I need to.

I am going to move up to 20 gauge wire next to see if it is a bit easier to work with.

Thinking Outside the Box

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These boxes are so cute!! I just love them.

When I first spotted these boxes in Michael’s Crafts I stopped and stared. The tag said Scrap Paper Scissors, Tote with Plastic Cases.  Fabric boxes for scrapbooking supplies. So bright and colorful. I wanted to touch them, pick them up. Oh, no. DON’T TOUCH THEM!! Brain alert: Buying spree about to begin!! Stopping to stare is bad enough but for me…. TOUCHING usually means “get out the wallet.” They were just too cute to pass up. In lime green, hot pink and black. 

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I picked up the black one, held it out, sizing it up. I was looking for a reason not to buy it. Thread hanging off, color blotches, any flaw.  Darn, no flaws. I even carried the pink one with me up and down the aisles while browsing. At the checkout, the black one won out.  Scrapbooking supplies WOULD look nice in these BUT… nope…I planned to use mine to organize my jewelry supplies.

Back at home, I had the toughest time deciding what to move from old plastic storage to new cute fabric storage. So…the next day I returned to Michael’s to buy the pink one.

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And then, yep, you guessed it. I rushed back by week’s end to buy the lime one. I am sure if other colors were offered I would have bought those too.

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There are three plastic cases in each fabric box with plastic divider tabs. The cases measure 10 3/4″ L, 7″ W, 1 1/2″ H.  The tabs slide in and out to make rearrangement fast and easy. I removed some of the divider tabs to make larger compartments.

This is how I have mine set up, turned on the side, with the opening facing me for easy access.

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I have nine plastic cases filled with…

  • spacers
  • chain links
  • earring findings
  • jump rings
  • crystals
  • clasps
  • wood beads
  • glass beads 
  • gemstones

Now when I am ready to make jewelry, I no longer have to hunt for “stuff.” I can spend time designing and creating instead of opening and closing dozens of little plastic cases, boxes and bins. I still have supplies everywhere but my staples, the items I use the most, are in clear view and accessible.  And oh so cute!!

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Beading Tips 101

  1. Soldered closed rings can be quite expensive especially in gold filled or sterling silver. By accident I discovered the perfect closed rings. Chain links.  Buy chain links by the foot. Cut off rings as needed. Much cheaper and you can buy different shapes and different sizes. You are not limited to the small round ones sold at craft stores.
  2. Next time you are holding up a finished necklace or bracelet to admire, don’t panic if you see wire!!  And don’t remove the crimp and start over.  Look for the least inconspicuous space and add a crimp bead as a fill-in. 
  3. The cost of buying spacer beads adds up. If you are like me, you like to have handy every possible metal in gold plated, gold filled, antique gold, silver plated, sterling silver and copper.  I was making weekly trips to the craft stores replenishing my supply UNTIL I discovered seed beads.  Use tiny seed beads as spacers and fill-in beads. They come in various sizes and colors.  Add seed beads to your beading design or bead as a separate string.
  4. When braiding multi-strand necklaces and bracelets, tape all strands, at the end of braiding, with masking tape.  The tape will hold all strands together as you add the clasp.
  5. Crimp but don’t crimp!! Add the crimp BUT don’t crimp it yet. Make sure beads are facing the right direction, no wire is showing, clasp is on the right side, multi-strands are positioned correctly by length. Do all these things before you crimp. I usually set aside a piece for several hours before crimping. I use alligator clips to hold the wire until I am positively sure I am truly finished and ready to crimp.
  6. As you are stringing, sometimes a damaged or imperfect bead will make it past your quality check. If you are well into the design, use flat-nose pliers to crush the bead, being careful not to damage surrounding beads. No need to restring.