3 Ideas for Jewelry Bails, Plus Free Project

May 1, 2009

New Beads, Old Problem

Take a look the cool tagua nut circles that I recently bought for a summer necklace.  Do you see the problem?  No?  Neither did I, until I started trying to design with them last weekend. 

When I'm bead shopping, my brain never gets past the "ooohhhh, pretty!" stage, so I end up with lots of beads like these that have giant holes, holes in odd places, pendants with loops facing the wrong way, or no holes at all.  It's only when I'm back at home and recovering from my glorious bead high that I realize I have no idea how I'm going to transform these beads into wearable jewelry.

3 Ideas for Jewelry Bails

As a result of buying so many beautiful "problem" beads, I've become obsessed with bails, a helpful finding that allows you to connect  pendants to necklaces.  You can buy a ready-made pendant bail or make your own.  Seed bead bails and wire bails are most common, but you can use other materials.  Recently, I made a simple bail for a large round porcelain pendant using cotton cord and knotting.  Here are three more ideas to get you started:

Copper Swirl
Susan Price Johnston

This pretty necklace uses a purchased sterling silver pendant bail.  I love how the swirls of the bail echo the swirls of ceramic pendant.  Generally, this type of bail has a spike on each side that goes into the bead's hole.  It works especially well for beads that are flat like this ceramic pendant.  It doesn't get much easier than this!


Delicate Spiral
Miwako Nara

This spiral rope necklace features a right-angle weave bail.  Nothing beats a seed bead bail for a seed bead necklace, since you're able to match both the colors and the texture of the necklace.  Other common stitches for bails include brick stitch, peyote stitch, and square stitch.  Of course, you're not limited to them--use whatever you like.


Caged Beach Glass
Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

If the item you want to hang doesn't have a hole, create a wire cage to hold the object along with a bail to hang it.  I love how the bail becomes a part of the overall pendant design and not just a tacked-on afterthought. 



New Free Project

Delicious Donut Lariat
Katie Hacker

Use a simple peyote stitch bail to turn a patterned shell donut and several strands of seed beads into a lariat necklace.  This is a companion project to Katie's Beading Secrets in the June/July 2009 issue of Beadwork.  In every issue, Katie showcases the newest beading products and offers clever suggestions and tips for how to use common materials in unconventional ways.  Her June/July column focuses on donuts and rings.  Subscribe now so you don't miss any of Katie's upcoming columns. 

There's lots to like in this new July/July issue of Beadwork, including the winners of the Beaded Book competition (check out the Dr. Seuss book in beads!) and great summer designs.  One of my favorite pieces is Jean Campbell's peyote stitch and square stitch focal in her Sjournee Flower necklace (pictured here).  Isn't it striking?  I'm tempted to follow her suggestion in the magazine and create a bold cuff bracelet with several flowers instead of using it for a necklace.  What do you think?  Share your thoughts on the website

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JudyP@4 wrote
on May 1, 2009 10:37 AM
Hi, for the Tagua Nut Beads crochet a necklace, I did one with similar beads for the summer and I liked it
atelierbeads wrote
on May 1, 2009 10:39 AM
About bails: I had the same trouble with large, flat pendants, "donut" beads, and other interesting flat shapes. The women at my local bead store helped me overcome my fear of two-part epoxy. I use epoxy to glue tiny charms, earring findings, or anything that looks good and has a loop--directly to the problem pendant. Take your time. Be sure you have everything lined up--make a tiny mark if you can. Then mix up a bit of the epoxy, apply a small dab to the large bead--just where you want your charm to go--and glue the little charm so that its loop projects up above the bead. Allow to dry for the prescribed time, and you're good to go. If the loop on the charm is too tiny, you can use a jump ring. This would probably work well with superglue as well. It does not work well for me with any kind of cement-type adhesive.
RhondaR@11 wrote
on May 1, 2009 2:13 PM
RE:the Sjournee Flower necklace Why stop with a necklace and bracelet set...make two extra flowers and a short loop, add a pair of ear wires and now you have a complete set of jewelry. If you want to make them a little more 'decorative" add leaves that hang and are kind of free form.
on May 13, 2009 8:48 AM
where can I buy the swirl bail? love all these tips. thanks, Mary Ann
fverac wrote
on Sep 27, 2011 5:01 PM

Hello, my friend here in Ecuador made this with tagua circles. Maybe you like them www.ecuadorianhands.com/popup_add_image.php

Also, I've noticed tagua beads are not found in many bead sites, mags, etc. It is too bad since tagua is such a cool material, ecofriendly. Would you be interested in posting an article about tagua and how it is manufacture? I have very cool photos :) - It would be something like this>>> www.ecuadorianhands.com/-i-27.html