Some of you were lured into beading like I was—with seed beads and a needle and thread. Beadweaving techniques really appealed to the mathematical side of my brain . . . like Sudoku for artists, you know?
I had all the on- and off-loom techniques down pat before I discovered that bead stringing can be an equally refreshing and creative mind teaser. As a technique for making jewelry, stringing is definitely easier than bead weaving, but once you delve into it deeper, you find there’s a nice design challenge there, too.
When I started stringing, I had every shade of green size 11° seed bead, but didn’t have a clue about what kind of findings I’d need to supplement a stringing stash. I sure would have liked a hand-holder back then, someone to tell me what to buy, what to skip. . . . So, for those of you first-time findings buyers out there, here’s a helping hand.
Your First Findings
First off, always buy high-quality findings made of sterling silver, gold, brass, or copper. Just spend the extra money—it’s definitely worth it in the long run. To start a findings stash, you’ll achieve just about all you need with these 5 items:
Head pins: These thin wires with a stopper at the end help you create the dangles you might find on an earring design. If you’re going to buy one type, go for a package of the 2" variety with the flat disk or round heads. They are the most versatile. You might not be able to resist the gorgeous fancy head pins, though—pick up a couple of those, too, and you’re already halfway done with a great pair of earrings.
Jump rings: Jump rings are open circles of wire used to link one component to another. A bunch of 6mm round jump rings is a good start for a bare-bones findings stash. If you want to plump your findings stash, also purchase some big and chunky, twisted, or oval ones.
Crimp tubes: These little cylinders are the key component in attaching beading wire to a clasp. A crimping pliers is key to getting a professional look. A bag of 2x2mm crimp tubes are probably the best to start with. If you want to expand from there, explore different sizes as well as tornado crimps, crimp ends, and crimp clasps.
Ear wires: These shaped wires are what you need to hang a dangle from your ear. The most common is a French ear wire, shaped like a fish hook, but there is a wide variety, so explore to find your favorite. If a dangly look isn’t for you, try ear posts or studs. Non-pierced earring findings are available, too, so keep your eyes open.
Clasps: Clasps are the closures that keep the ends of a necklace or bracelet together. There are dozens of types, so explore your store to find the type you think you’d like best. To plump your stash, choose a variety of clasps that will enhance your designs with their own beauty. Keep in mind that multistrand clasps are also available
If you’re just starting to string beads—or just starting to bead, for that matter—check out the article “Your First Stash” that I wrote for Step by Step Beads. It gives an overview of all the tools and materials you’ll need while you’re Getting Started Stringing Beads (which, I’ll have to spout, is a pretty helpful beginning stringing book to pick up while you’re at it!).
Do you have suggestions for first-time stringers? Share them on the website!
Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!