The Dangers and Joys of Braided Thread for Beading

Feb 26, 2008

 

 

A First-Aid Kit for Beaders?

How's this for an idea? Beaders should keep a first-aid kit near their workstation. I am constantly running to the medicine cabinet to get a bandage. You know like when you're trying to get at a particularly tricky place in a piece of wirework and the chain-nose pliers slip and nick the skin on your knuckle? Or you jam a needle underneath your nail? Argh!

 

My current injury--and I should have learned to avoid this by now--is pinky slashing. You might be prone to this if you do beadwork like me, using the pinky of your dominant hand to provide resistance when you pull the thread tight.  I often use braided thread --a.k.a. fishing line--like FireLine and Power Pro.  It's really tough thread, so my pinky is usually slashed to bits.  Come to think of it, braided thread really shouldn't be allowed on airplanes.

Code red! 

Tips for Using Braided Thread

Braided thread is red-alert dangerous but at the same time quite divine. Supple yet strong; doesn't fray. I love it. Here are a few tips on using it:

  • It can be hard to make a clean cut from the spool, but you can do so by slightly opening a pair of Fiskars scissors and pulling the thread over the bottom blade where the blades meet. This works better than actually holding the scissors and cutting the thread with both blades, which frays the end.

  • Some braided threads are a total hassle to thread. A needle threader can help, or if you're really having a hard time, use a Big Eye needle. I have luck by pinching the very end of the thread between the fingers of one hand while I place the needle down on the thread, feeding the thread up through the eye at the same time.

  • Most braided threads come in clear, smoke, moss, and white. Clear works really well if you're working with crystals or light-colored seed beads. I end up working with smoke a lot because the dark color recedes into the beadwork. The nice thing about white is that you can color it. I learned this trick from another beader: First cut your thread length. Place a piece of cardboard on your work surface with the thread end on top; touch a permanent marker in the color you're aiming for (Sharpies come in a huge array of colors) to the end of the thread and pull the thread through. Instant colored thread.

  • Some braided threads have a bit of a greasy residue that can leave black marks on your hands. It probably won't mess up your beadwork, but if it bugs you, just hold a Kleenex or paper towel in one hand while you pull the line through with your other hand. It will take the coating right off.

  • Braided thread works well for bead weaving, but you can make strung pieces with it, too. I usually use a 4 to 6 lb weight for my beadworked pieces because it's a little thinner. But you could use a 10 lb or even a 20 lb weight for strung pieces that include really heavy beads.

     

  • You can get braided thread at most bead shops, but you can also pick up some at a sporting-goods store.

Oh, and don't forget to wear a Band-Aid on your pinky.

Editor's Note:  Where can you find pink FireLine?  Who has the best price?  See what other members have been saying on this topic ("Beginner Project: Peyote Stackable Rings") and join in the conversation!--Michelle Mach

 


 

 

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!

 



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Comments

on Feb 27, 2008 3:28 PM
I used power pro for 4 years 8lb test and found that you need serated scissors to cut. I've sold those scissors and I would say 1 out of 8 still doesn't cut well. You can find them at sporting goods stores. Mine are three years old and cut well ever time and I use a size 10 and size 12 needle.
JaneK@41 wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 3:29 PM
Is the regular Fireline fishing line the same as the beading Fireline? Does it cost less?
ChristinaJ@9 wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 3:31 PM
I am currently sporting that same pinky finger injury!
JanetS@70 wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 3:38 PM
You poor little beat up thing, you. another tip someone told me--don't use the wire for kids projects as it is too strong and will not break--better to use dental floss as it beaks easily.
Janet Kay Skeen
Janet From Another Planet
NancyH@105 wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 4:24 PM
I wrap my pinkie with medical tape when working with fireline or nymo... I can get a good strong pull and no injuries. Also, the medical tape stands up to hand washings, etc thru the course of the day.
CanadianDot wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 4:43 PM
I'm glad I'm not the only one out there with beadwork related pinkie injuries.. I also find that when I have a lot of crimping to do (ahh, floating necklaces), my crimpers give me painful calluses on the inside of my fingers.. And they told me beadwork was a harmless, relaxing hobby!!
Debraacts wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 5:02 PM
You should use what I use. They are called Finger Gloves. They are made of heavy duty latex rubber (so you can't use them if you have a latex allergy). They come in different sizes, can be trimmed to any length, are machine washable. Wearing one protects my pinkie finger against fireline cuts. I can also wear one when my finger tips have been torn up by the needle. It's not a thimble, but fits like a second skin so I can use it when I need help gripping a needle to pull through beads. I'm not a sales person or stock owner, just a happy beading customer with no pinkie injuries.
They are at www.fingergloves.com
KateS@69 wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 5:10 PM
I am an experienced beadweaver who is nuts about 10 lb. Power Pro. It threads easily on a 12 needle if you flatten the end between your front teeth or run it across the side of a pair of scissors. I use the camo green color because it blends beautifully with the palettes I use.
KimT@35 wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 5:24 PM
I found an inexpensive way to keep my fingers from getting sore when I pull the thread in my beading projects. I went to the local Medical Supply store and purchased a box of "finger cots". They also help grab the needle as I am pulling it, so my fingers do not slip off the needle. They are about $4.00 for a box of 144 and they last a long time. I don't know what I did without them for so long! Thank You, Kim T.
ZenaH wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 5:39 PM
I use a slim-bladed craft knife to cut Power-Pro, it doesn't mash the end as much. And if you do get blood on your work, swab it with a well-chewed cotton bud. Sounds odd but spit dissolves the blood and leaves no staining. Thanks! Solaan
SueS@99 wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 5:58 PM
please be aware that some of the "braided threads" such as Fireline should NOT be purchased at your local sporting goods store - the Fireline made for us does not contain the special coating they put on for fishermen. That coating specially designed to make the Fireline disinegrate faster in sunlight and exposure so that if the fisherman loses his line to a tough fish...the line will not be tangled around fish, weeds, etc forever. It will disinagrate! That wouldn't be good for our projects! Sue S
DorrieS wrote
on Feb 27, 2008 7:50 PM
Funy you bring up the pinky subject. I surprised myself about a week and a half ago. I use Power Pro and have never had too many problems with it until then. I was working on a piece, pulled a bit too hard and sliced the side of my pinky, which is also calloused from beading thread. I also broke the Power Pro as I got a bit miffed. Thank goodness it wasn't really serious. So, yes, keep those bandaids handy. LOL
EleanorJ@8 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 6:44 AM
Could you please tell me,an ignorant Brit, exactly what Sharpies are? I've seen them referred to in several places recently, so know the sort of things they do but not what they're made of or what they look like. If I knew I might be able to find a UK equivalent?
EleanorJ@8 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 6:44 AM
Could you please tell me,an ignorant Brit, exactly what Sharpies are? I've seen them referred to in several places recently, so know the sort of things they do but not what they're made of or what they look like. If I knew I might be able to find a UK equivalent?
EllenA@2 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 8:28 AM
To Ms. Campbell,

I am a lover of Fireline as it is strong and it can be purchased in large quantities(back to that in a minute).
Here's a tip for threading: Use a flat nose plier to flatten the ends of the thread.

Ellen Algava

P.S. You can get large quantities of Fireline from Basspro.com
M LE wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 8:56 AM
One of the tricks I learned while working with textiles (English smocking, embroidery, etc.) was that threads also have a grain, just as fabric does. Working with the grain helps prevent snarling and unwanted knots in the thread. When teaching, the mantra for my students quickly became "always knot the end you cut" when doing smocking with a single strand of embroidery floss. When using 2 strands they quickly learned not thread the needle and knot both ends together. They would get snarls and tangles because the grain was going in opposite directions in the doubled strand. Using two separate strands going in the same direction and knotting the trailing ends together made the work much easier. I find it works the same way for beading threads, even though the threads are not knotted. I always use the freshly cut end of the thread as the trailing end and have fewer tangles.
AnjaS@10 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 10:26 AM
Goodmorning Jean! Thank you so much for putting your efforts into Beading Daily. Such a nice way to start the day with your email in the mailbox :). To protect my 'pinky' I cut the good old yellow rubber gloves apart. Putting just the 'pinky' on my pinky really protects me from getting cut. Looking forward to the next Beading Daily! :) All the best, Anja
MelindaB@14 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 10:29 AM
Eleanor J ~ Sharpies are permanent markers... here's the website http://www.sharpie.com/enUS/Home/default.html
Hope that helps!
MelindaM@18 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 11:48 AM
A much better way to thread your needle with fireline etc., is to flatten the twisted wire. You can use a pair of pliers, or as some of my friends do, just bite down on the end and drag the wire through your teeth.If you don't follow your advise about cleaning off the residue first, watch out for a black line on your mouth and down your chin!
MelindaM@18 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 12:06 PM
I called the manufacturer of Fireline about the issue stated above by Sue S. They said that there was no difference in the fireline sold to the bead shops and the one sold to the sporting goods stores. I work in a bead store and know that the owner was also told that the sporting goods line would disintegrate in the sun and water. I am afraid that this might just be a marketing issue. I want to support my local bead shop, but I do not like the fact that we might be receiving false information. I don't feel comfortable selling a product by saying that it will last longer, when I have been told that wasn't true. What do you think?
CynthiaF@22 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 12:57 PM
Does anyone have trouble getting knots to hold with PowerPro/FireLine? What glue and knot should I use?
WilmaA wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 1:37 PM
I use braided thread a lot. Here are a few of my tips. Buggles WILL cut Fireline so be sure to carefully cull beads. For threading I have special scissors ( i wish I could remember where I bought them!) . Then I pull about a half inch of the cut end with my flat nose flowers. This makes threading much easier. Wilma Anderson (beader21@comcast.net)
kose2 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 1:44 PM
i just signed in a few days ago to receive a nesletter I'm enjoying all the posts as you get much info Tku all
leli
Beadntat wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 2:41 PM
I use braided threads like the ones mentioned in today's post almost exclusively in my beadweaving. While I've never sliced my fingers with them, I have hissed a few times while trying to thread my favorite beading needles. But I no longer need to let of steam because I found a simple way to solve the problem. After cutting the thread I crimp the end with my chainnose pliers so the thread becomes flat and wide...just like the eye of the needle! The needle slips onto the thread without a hitch and I'm ready to work. Easy!
theresa@32 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 3:32 PM
My mom and I both do beadworkand and we both love fireline. I do a lot of right angle weave and mom does beaded collars. 6lb is our favorite wt. Love your web-site. Keep up the great work you do. Theresa
theresa@32 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 3:46 PM
I have found that fireline is hard to thread when using a size 12 or 13 needle. My mom taught me to pull about half an inch at the end between my thumb and index fingernail to flatten it.Otherwise you can't thread your needle. Theresa
SaraJ wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 4:33 PM
Someone mentioned a few days ago about NEVER using your teeth to flatten the end of the fireline, powerpro, etc. Please, Beading Daily, look into this safety issue, as it certainly sounds legitimate, from what that lady described.
Flbeader wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 9:01 PM
Fiskar kids scissors cut Fireline and PowerPro like butter and they are usually only usually under $1.00 in Walmart. Someone once said that they will cut just about anything except flesh. I haven't tested it yet!
Roberta in cold Florida
CindyH@49 wrote
on Feb 28, 2008 9:10 PM
I find that if I wrap the fishing line kind of loosely around my fingers a few times & THEN pull, it doesn't cut my skin.
Anonymous wrote
on Mar 1, 2008 1:05 PM
:Hi I find that Fireline will stretch when you bead with it.
I have made rings and bracelets that stretch when you wear them. A few of my beading friends have the same problem.
Any Solution? Thank you Judy
RitaM@21 wrote
on Mar 3, 2008 2:04 PM
I'm a week late so I hope Jean Campbell gets this. TY, TY, TY, Jean for the tip on using Sharpie PMs. I used black on Nymo D yesterday and it worked beautifully! Can't wait until my budget allows for FireLine. Guess I should check ebay. Thanks again, Rita
StefanieO wrote
on Mar 3, 2008 8:35 PM
I use Fireline a lot (crystal and smoke), but get tired of sometimes seeing too much of the thread. What brand comes in white? I checked with BassPro to see if it was Power Pro, but the guy said no, and he didn't know what one came in white. Thanks, love the info I get brom Beading Daily. Stefanie
sohagin@bellsouth.net
on Mar 4, 2008 5:29 PM
Does anyone else get black smudes all over their hands from beading with Fireline Smoke color? I do - and I've even got black smudges on my wrist from wearing a bracelet (peyote stitch) made with Fireline Smoke color. I was wondering if this always happens or whether I got a bad batch.
StefanieO wrote
on Mar 4, 2008 8:17 PM
I have this problem too. You can wipe the thread off with a tissue or a baby wipe, although the baby wipe takes a little of the color off, but not too much. The smoke is messy, but I love it because it doesn't show when using darker beads. I haven't had it rub off on my arm tho. Stefanie O
LoriB@45 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 3:44 PM
I remember having a conversation about the Fireline from sporting goods stores a couple years ago. Someone said they had contacted the company and was told it was the same product as the craft kind. The company was even nice enough to provide them with a chart giving the sports equivalents of the different craft sizes. When asked about whether the product is designed to fall apart to protect wildlife the answer was that the material it's made of will degrade over time but the amount of time depends on the conditions. If it's outside in daily sunshine (as in NOT covered with beads) and left in the rain, heat and cold then it can become fragile fairly quickly. If it's stored indoors on the spool or cared for as a piece of jewelry it can last for many, many years comparable to or better than other types of stringing materials. After I heard that I tried Fireline and I've loved it ever since.

Lori B in NC
Luxorhouse wrote
on Jun 7, 2008 12:50 PM

When buying Fireline, I see that 14 lb is 6 lb test, but it is far too thick, so I have to buy 6 lb (the 6 lb spool doesn't give a "test" weight but it is much thinner). However, many patterns call for 6 lb test. Can you explain this? Thanks!