Here is by far the strongest and most professional-looking finish I've found for attaching bead caps to beaded ropes. This technique requires a little wireworking, but I promise it's easy to master.
--A beaded rope with ends large enough to fit a small wrapped loop.
--A bead cap that fits the end of your rope
--2 pairs of chain- or flat-nose pliers and 1 pair of round-nose pliers
--Wire, color of your choice, 22-gauge or thicker (Half-hard is recommended. Although craft wire is softer, it can also work.)
||Use chain- or flat-nose pliers to form a 90° bend 1/2" to 1" from the end of your wire. I like to start with at least 3 1/2" of
wire when attaching caps to beaded ropes.
Imagine the size of the loop you would like to make, then place the
nose of the round-nose pliers on the short wire at a distance from the
bend that equals about half of the circumference of the loop you
imagined. Remember to make the loop small enough to fit inside the end
of your beaded rope. Roll the pliers toward the bend, then use your
finger to wrap the short wire the rest of the way round the pliers,
adjusting the pliers as needed, until the short wire crosses the bend at
the base of the loop. While still holding the loop in the pliers,
adjust the wire below the bend as needed to restore the 90° angle.
||If making a simple loop, trim the wire next to the bend. However, I
strongly advise against using a simple loop in this application. This is
because your thin beading thread can slip through the small opening at
the base of the loop.
||For a more secure loop that can't open like a simple loop, make a wrapped
loop. Here's how: Before trimming the wire, grasp the loop with
chain- or flat-nose pliers. Using your fingers, or holding the end of the wire
with chain- or flat-nose pliers, wrap the tail down the neck of the main
wire at the base of the loop for about 2 or 3 wraps. Trim the wire at
the end of the last wrap. For tight wraps, think of pulling the wire
away from the loop as you wrap.
||Insert the loop end of the wire into the end of your beaded rope and
securely stitch it in place. If you haven't already, close the end of
your beaded rope with more stitches.
Use the end of the wire to string the bead cap down over the end of
the beaded rope and form a second wrapped loop. If needed, string your
clasp on the wire before forming the wraps. If making a hook-and-loop clasp, make sure the loop that will sit opposite the hook is large enough to accommodate the hook.
Be sure to turn to Beadwork magazine for great beaded designs to try this technique out on. For more tips on finishing beadwork, check out my How to Stitch Custom Clasps workshop (available on DVD or video download).
Do you have other favorite techniques for finishing the ends of ropes?
Editor, Beadwork magazine