5 Jewelry Making Mistakes to Avoid

Apr 18, 2013

I've been beading for almost ten years now--ever since I joined the staff of Jewelry Stringing. And over those ten years, I've made lots of beading mistakes. Thing is, those mistakes turn into lessons. Hard-earned lessions sometimes, yes, but lessons nonetheless. When learning to bead, it's as much about figuring out what NOT to do as it is figuring out what to do. I think you know what I mean. Below I offer some advice based on my screw-ups...I mean, adventures in learning.

Don't use your nice wire cutters on memory wire. Really. Memory wire is steel, and it's really hard. The first time I used memory wire, I was too lazy to go find another pair of pliers to cut it. So, I used my jewelry wire cutters. And, just like all the warnings tell you, it does mar the blades of the pliers, which makes it harder in the future to cut everything else. Buy some memory-wire specific cutters like the ones at right from Fire Mountain Gems, or use hardware-store cutters.

When closing jump rings, take your time and close them well the first time. In the past, I've wiggled jump rings back and forth so many times trying to close them perfectly that they actually broke in half. To avoid this, grasp each side of a jump ring's opening with a pair of pliers. Don't pull apart. Instead, twist in opposite directions so that you can open and close without distorting the shape.

When using beads on cloth, make sure the beads have a permanent finish. I once bead-embroidered some pillowcases (one of my very first beading projects) with cute little flowers. When I washed the pillowcases, the colors of the beads bled all over the pillowcase, ruining it. I should have known--they were cheap beads, but, hey, I was a newbie!

Be careful when using thread burners or lighters to cauterize the ends of synthetic threads. I was finishing a small earring project I had stitched with FireLine braided beading thread and thought I'd try the finish-by-fire method I've read so much about. I only had a lighter, not a thread burner like the one at left from Artbeads.com. I guess I got a little flame happy. Not only did I singe my tail thread, but I also burned through other threads, causing the piece to fall apart. Luckily, it didn't take long to redo my earring, but I learned that a little bit of heat goes a long way.

When  carrying your in-progress jewelry to a mirror to check out how the size of a necklace is working on you, make sure the ends are secured really well with bead stops. I've lost a few beads in the sink after some ill-placed bead stops fell off my piece, cause the whole necklace to come apart. I like the original size Bead Stoppers. Just make sure they've got your beading wire trapped securely in the coils before moving your jewelry around.

What lessons have you learned through beading trial and error? Share them below!


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on Apr 20, 2013 4:58 PM

One 'mistake' that I've been caught by several times is skimping too much on my wire or thread length.  Trying to economize, I cut the wire or thread too short - in the end it costs more because I have to throw out what's been done and start again.

ELENAH@7 wrote
on Apr 20, 2013 5:36 PM

Don't throw out wire, save it for bracelets or for shorter strands in a multi tiered necklace.

on Apr 20, 2013 9:35 PM

control your tension....when I first started bead weaving I tended to pull too tightly.  Somtimes you WANT to pull tight, like when you want something to curl, but sometimes it needs to stay pretty loose, like when you want to have a soft fabric texture.  

Also, when using light colored matte finish beads, do NOT...I repeat...do NOT touch them after handling citrus fruit before THOROUGHLY WASHING your hands....I should have known better...just didn't occur to me that just wiping my hands off with a paper towel would not be enough.

on Apr 28, 2013 12:08 AM

Instead of spending money on Bead Stoppers, I raid the stationary drawer and use some tiny straight-edged bulldog clips. They work a treat and can hold several threads at once. They're ideal for other things too, like braiding.

Kdemaret wrote
on Jul 3, 2013 5:27 AM

All of these are true lessons.

eskanos wrote
on Dec 15, 2013 2:40 PM

When using a toggle clasp, finish the bar end with small enough beads to allow the bar to go into the round side of the clasp.