Bead Instructor Tips

May 15, 2008

I asked our Bead Fest instructors to share some of their top beading tips. From beadweaving to wirework to keeping track of your projects, you'll find all sorts of great ideas to make your beading better. Click on the links to learn more about the instructors and see a list of their classes.--Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor, June 2008  


Combining Stitches

"Combining stitches gives your off-loom beadwork dimensionality. Rather than increase circular peyote by adding more beads in succeeding rounds, try incorporating Ndebele/herringbone to create angles or to encourage a sculptural profile."--Phyllis Dintenfass (Bead Expo Portland, BeadFest Philadelphia)

Keeping the Thread Tail Out of the Way 

"Keep tail thread out of the way while working with FireLine or Nymo type threads by attaching one of the coiled bead stoppers to your thread end, about 6-8 inches from the project. This will act as a weight and keep the tail out of your way while you are working."--Adrienne Gaskell (Bead Fest Miami)  

Alternatives to Thimbles

"Sometimes I need a thimble when I'm beading, but it gets in my way.  I wrap my fingertip in an adhesive bandage instead."--Nancy Zellers (Bead Fest Philadelphia)

4 More Thread Tips


Start with classic color combinations. (Read expanded tip.)--Laura Andrews (Bead Expo Portland, Bead Expo Phoenix, Bead Fest Miami, Bead Fest Wire, Bead Fest Philadelphia)  

"Choosing the 'right' colors of your jewelry is difficult.  Whenever students are having difficulty, I suggest working with an inspiration piece:  a piece of fabric or wallpaper, a favorite painting or piece of art, or something from nature.  This process will narrow down the selection of colors."--Donna P. Ryan-Kocun (Bead Fest Philadelphia)


Creating Borosillicate Beads

"When making borosilicate beads, begin with a small clear base wrapped on the mandrel. Apply boro colors to create your design over this clear base. Finish by adding a final clear encasement to create depth and to help magnify the color and design work below. A pale transparent tint may be substituted (in place of clear) for the final encasement. The pale tint will add a subtle glow of color to your bead design. Experiment with different combinations of layers."--Lauri Copeland (Bead Fest Philadelphia)

Creating Glass Flowers

"When I want to make special glass flowers I make a bead shape then I slump it with heat and gravity and press it on a graphite paddle to make a button shape. Then I add more glass in rings around the fat part of the button to make what looks like a bird's nest. I cut 5 notches into this nest by heating one section at a time using sharp shears to make the cuts. My favorite secret is to use a pair of concave/round forming pliers to mash each of these "petals" into a beautiful curved shape. This gives a more unsual twist to your flowers."--Stephanie Maddalena (Bead Fest Philadelphia


Metal and Polyer Clays

Creating Textures

"I etch metal sheets of copper and brass and use the etched pieces as texture sheets for my PMC and polymer clay beads. This way I can use the textures again and again and also have unique beads in my jewelry."--Meredith Arnold (Bead Expo Portland, Bead Expo Phoenix, Bead Fest Wire, Bead Fest Miami, Bead Fest Philadelphia  


"Whenever I start a new project, I record in a special book the beads used, where I purchased them, the stitches used and a row by row account of everything I do. This detailed information helps to write directions in case I want to submit this project for teaching or publishing, or if I want to duplicate it."--Perie Brown (Bead Expo Portland, Bead Expo Phoenix, Bead Fest Miami, Bead Fest Philadelphia)  

"Tie bright colored ribbon or a piece of yarn around one handle of your tools.  You will be able to identify them faster."--Phyllis Martin-Rennie (Bead Fest Philadelphia)


Coiling Wire

"When coiling wire, I use a pair of parallel pliers that have rubber padding on the jaws to get a firm grip without marring the wire."--Sally Stevens (Bead Fest Wire)

Forming a Wire "S" Clasp

Torch-free approach to finishing an s-clasp. (Read expanded tip.)--Sandra Lupo (Bead Fest Wire, Bead Fest Philadelphia)

Handling Wire

"Be careful how much you handle your wire when creating pieces with it. The more you touch it, run your fingers over it to straighten it, or work it with tools, the more work hardened it becomes and therefore more brittle. The areas you touch can become weak areas which easily break, or too stiff to manipulate smoothly."--Pam Brown (Bead Expo Portland, Bead Expo Phoenix, Bead Fest Wire)

Knitting with Wire

"Wire knitting can be done with many kinds of wire: permanently colored copper, fine silver, sterling silver, gold-filled, even braided stainless steel. The important thing to remember when you are choosing your wire is to make sure that it is soft. It will harden as you knit, so starting with wire that is not soft will cause it to get too hard and break--perhaps before you've completed your project!"--Sharon Hessoun (Bead Fest Philadelphia, Bead Fest Miami)

Polishing Wire

"The first thing I do when I am working with wire is polish it; I learned this early in my wire work training from Lynne Merchant. This ensures that the finished piece is polished and you don't have to get into lots of little spaces to polish it. The last thing I do with my wire work is wash it to take off any remaining polish. I use dishwashing liquid to cut any wax or oils used in the polish, scrub gently with a toothbrush, rinse it in very hot water and lay it out to dry on a piece of paper towel. (Be sure the other materials you have used in your work will tolerate washing."--Melanie Schow (Bead Expo Portland, Bead Fest Philadelphia)

 Working with Jump Rings

"When working with sterling silver jump rings, the jaws of your pliers must be smooth.  If necessary, lightly sand the jaws and edges with fine grit sandpaper."--Debra Danyi (Bead Fest Philadelphia)

Related Posts
+ Add a comment