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How to Pick Beads & String for Beaded Jewelry

Learn how to pick beads and string for beaded jewelry with this Howcast video about how to make jewelry.


So beading is completely different than stringing and knotting, because beading is more like sewing with tiny little beads. And stringing and knotting is about using beads, but you're going to be putting it on a string, as opposed to sewing it with a needle and thread.

So the first material, of course, are like the gemstone beads, which, you know, all gemstones come mostly in bead form. These, for example, are amethyst. These are pearls. And then another material that is popular now are the Czech glass beads, which come in lots of colors and sizes, and it gives you more flexibility, because all the holes are very calibrated, so they're all the same size. So it's easier to choose the stringing material that it goes on.

And then another popular item type of bead now is, that I like to use, are these African trade beads, which are called African trade beads because some of them are really, really old, like these ones. And they are originally, I would say these are probably from Urano, Italy, from the pattern that you see here. They're great, because they're a little bit beaten up already. They're not perfect and beautiful and shiny. If you want that look, you should be going with a Czech glass bead. If you want more of a used, sort of worn look, you would go with something like a gemstone. These I like because they're matte. If you want a more polished, fancy look, you would go with something more like a polished gemstone. For men, a lot of guys like to wear these trade beads, now. You can just quickly throw them on leather, and make a quick bracelet, which I'm going to show you later on.

Once you have chosen your beads, the most important thing is looking at the holes of the beads to determine your stringing material. So, for example, I have a few different types of things here. The stringing material really depends on the beads you choose; normally, most traditional jewelry is strung on silk. So this is a great product because it has the silk cord, and it comes with a needle, so that's very easy. You just go, you pick your silk cord's color and size according to the size of the holes of your bead. So that's for something more like gemstones, where you want drapey, sort of more polished. So you would put that on silk.

Then, if you have something that's a little heavier, you would use something like a Bead-a-lon product, which is, Bead-a-lon are tons and tons of little wires, and it's all wrapped in a nylon coating. So you would, it also comes in sizes, and it also comes in different weights that you need to choose. So it comes, so this one, for example, comes with a gold nylon coating, and this one is seven strands. Seven strands of wire inside. This is good for something like metal beads. Metal beads on silk, it'll cut the silk, whereas if you use something like this, it'll be able to withstand the weight and withstand the sharp edges of the beads.

Then if you go with something larger, you can use leather, of course, which is great and easy. Because it's easy to knot, and you don't have to do a lot of fussy things with it. Then there's also hemp, and that also comes in different thicknesses and colors, and the colors are a little bit more faded, vegetable dye looking, as opposed to bright. Then we also, for people who are not into leather, like at our store we have a lot of, sort of, vegan type people, so we offer them the wax cord. So it basically is just cotton cord that has a wax finish on it to make it smooth and not sharp and edgy, and those also come in lots of colors.

Everything comes in different thicknesses, so that's one of the most important things to decide when you choose your beads. Then another thing I like to do is also use things like ribbons, or twill tape, or things from the trim store where it's more like a fiber material. So you can get great cotton, like thick string, you know, because I come from the fashion world, so I love shopping at trim stores, and there's always tons of great alternative materials that are just, you know, that you can use and incorporate into your jewelry designs.

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