MIXED LEVELS OF EXPERIENCE
Q. I have a couple of friends who share my passion for beading and wire art.
However, our skill levels are different so it's hard to find something that
we can do together and all have fun. Any suggestions?
A. We recommend you choose projects that have a basic instruction list that
can be embellished. Thankfully, this is true about many projects. You might
choose to make a bracelet such as our wire-cuff bracelet that a beginner
will enjoy. However, the more advanced artists can add or alter the project
with additional techniques they know. Also, encourage the beginner to take
risks. Most projects are not life threatening or even that costly if
mistakes are made. It should be fun - you're not being graded!
UNDERSTANDING THE DETAILS
Q. I feel like I know just enough about beading to be dangerous. I know
about beads, how to create designs, but I'm not very good at the finishing
work. Where do I learn more?
A. It's true, creating is the fun part and finishing is usually the less
exciting task. I recommend reading The Basics of Beading spending time
working with different types of findings (jump rings, clasps, headpins,
etc.) and how to properly use them. Just sit for an hour and practice over
and over again with inexpensive findings until you feel comfortable with the
techniques and materials.
Q. Hi BeadChix! First, thanks for the newsletters; I’ve found them very helpful and fun to read. My question is, I just finished a beautiful woven necklace but the thread is starting to show. What should I do?
A. There are several reasons this could happen so here are a few recommendations:
1 –Thread Condition. When you use Nymo (a brand of nylon beading thread) as your beading thread it must be pre-stretched. To do this, cut your working length of thread, take one end and about half the length and gently tug feeling the thread give. Do this several times. Move to the other half of thread and repeat. This process will help eliminate sagging threads, which can occur after you have finished your piece.
2 – Thread Tension. New beaders often have trouble controlling the tension of their thread. Too tight and the piece puckers, too loose and it sags. Solution: practice, watch as you go, and don’t be afraid to redo a section. Soon you can avoid these problems.
3 – Finishing. The best way to finish off a piece of thread is to weave the thread back into the beadwork. However, sometimes the threads will loosen and show. To prevent this from happening you can singe the end of the thread with a flame, which can be tricky. Cut thread 1/4 inch from beads, put flame up to (but not on!) the thread, and it will ball up. If you are not comfortable with this method, trim the thread close to beads and put a small drop of clear nail polish on the end of the thread. This will prevent thread from shifting or unraveling. This is also the preferred method if there are children in the home. And, thanks for the compliment!
HOW MANY BEADS?
Q. I'm trying to figure out how many beads I will need to buy to create a
necklace. Can you tell me how to calculate this?
A. Good question! We use a
chart to assist our customers here in the store. Thanks to your questions we have now added the chart to our web store
to help you determine the approximate number of beads to purchase. We always
suggest that you get a few extra in case of loss, breakage, or defective
WIRE SIZE & TEMPER
Q. I am just learning to wirewrap and am not sure what wire to order. Can you explain the difference between the size and what soft & half hard mean?
A. Wire comes in a variety of sizes or gauges. The higher the number the finer the wire.TOP
28g – extremely fine – too small for most jewelry applications
26g – extra fine – for very small gemstones
24g – fine – for pearls & most gemstones – easy to work with
22g – medium – fairly universal for glass beads, fits some pearls & gemstones
20g – medium heavy – great for earwires, clasps or larger beads
18g – heavy – often good for chainmaille or when you want a heavier look
16g – heavy – often used as a base to wrap finer wires around
14g – heavy – often used as a base to wrap finer wire around
12g – very heavy – hard to work with, seldom used in jewelry
Wire Temper – Measures the amount of spring in the wire.
Soft or deadsoft – Has no spring when you bend it. Good for making wire beads.
Half-hard* - Has some spring, but is still malleable. Good for basic wirework. Hold its shape well.
Hard or full Hard – Very hard to bend, doesn’t work well in most jewelry applications.
Annealing – Heating the wire to soften it.
Work hardening – Hammering, drawing or rolling wire will make it harder.
*We recommend half-hard for most jewelry applications, unless the wire gauge is heavier than 20g, then use soft.
PRICING YOUR WORK
Q. I have been making jewelry for my friends & family, but would like to try selling my jewelry. I have no idea how much to charge, can you help me with pricing?
A. That’s a common question. The answer depends on a number of factors and will vary from person to person.
Here is a list of things to consider:
1. What is the hourly rate of pay you would like?
2. How much did you spend on the materials?
3. How much are you spending on overhead?
Craft fair entry fees
Booth set-up & display
Space & utilities
Advertising & promotion
4. Do you want to sell direct to the public, or do you want the option of selling to stores? If you want to sell to stores, you will have to determine wholesale pricing & retail pricing. When you sell direct to the public you will be selling at retail. When you sell to a store you will be selling at wholesale, which is usually half of retail.
Now that you’ve given some thought to these considerations let’s put it all together. You made a necklace & would like to get paid $20.00 per hour. It took 45 minutes to make, or $15.00 in labor. The materials cost $6.40. You have decided to add on $5.00 to each item for packaging & overhead. This would mean your wholesale price is $26.40. Double that & your retail price is $52.80. You may want to round up the price to $27.00 wholesale & $54.00 retail.
The last consideration is what will the market bear? You can usually ask yourself if you would pay that much for a necklace like the one you made? Is it competitively priced? Are you in the right market to sell? Is the design unique?
If you only want to sell direct to the public you can reduce the price, however, once you have made this decision it may be hard to sell to a store should you change your mind. Most stores will not buy from you if you sell to people for less than the store will have to charge.
The most important thing is are you still having fun? Sometimes a hobby becomes a business opportunity and if you have a passion & are able to make money doing what you love – go for it! But, beware - often once you are creating for profit you may find that the pressure of covering your expenses takes the fun out of it.
Q. I just received my order of beautiful dichroic glass beads. I can’t believe how beautiful the colors are. Can you tell me more about what dichroic glass is?
A. Dichroic Glass is a beautiful iridescent finish that reflects and transmits light in a variety of colors depending on the angle of viewing. Originally developed by the aerospace industry as interference filters, dichroic is thin layers of vaporized metal oxides that are deposited on the surface of the glass in a high temperature vacuum furnace. The process may be repeated up to 30 times to achieve the desired effect. The range of colors depends on the oxide composition.
UNDERSTANDING SEED BEADS
Q. I am new to beading and am confused by all the sizes of seed beads. Can you tell me how many beads I get in each different size?
A. Seed beads are measured in aughts. This can be confusing as we are used to inches and millimeters as our unit of measure. Aughts are the number of beads lined up side by side in a given space. A 6/0 bead means that you will get 6 beads in the space. 11/0 will be eleven beads in the same amount of space. So the smaller the number the bigger the bead, as it takes fewer beads to fill the space.
This chart will help you determine the number of seed beads per inch based on size. Remember that this is approximate as there are differences between manufacturers, country of origin and finishes.
beads per inch
Q. What is the difference between the 3 "Hemps"?
A. The size and strength. Hemp cord is somewhat inconsistent in size as it is a natural fiber. 20# is approximately 1mm, 48# is about 2mm and 72# is a 3mm cord. The number refers to the test strength of the cord. The number of pounds of pressure before the cord breaks.
Q. I just started beading and want to know why the Soft Flex wire cost so much more than the Tiger Tail wire?
A. Tiger Tail is the old industry standard beading cable. It is 3 or 7 strands of stainless steel wound together to create a strong flexible cable. The problem with Tiger Tail is that it has a tendency to kink and once the wire is kinked it will not look good when worn.
Soft Flex is a brand name for a softer, more flexible beading cable made from 21 or 49 strands of stainless steel threads that are woven together & coated with nylon. Because the threads are so fine, the result is a much softer product with less tendency to kink.
Both of the wires are strong, but the Soft Flex wire out performs the Tiger Tail and worth the extra money. FYI – other companies make similar products. Brand names for Tiger Tail are Acculon, Beadalon 7 and Jewelry Wire. Brand names for more flexible wire are Soft Flex, Beadalon 49, Acculon & Griffin Jewelry Wire.
Q. Help please! I just started beading and am having an awful time with crimp beads. They rarely hold and if I do get them to work, I feel like I need to start lifting weights I’m squeezing so hard. I’ve almost given up on them and have started wrapping everything. Please help, I’m supposed to do a small craft show in a few weeks, my first one, and I don’t want everything falling apart on me!
A. Crimping is a critical component of creating beautiful, lasting jewelry. If you are having difficulty with the crimp beads holding there are a couple of options. Try buying a different type of crimp bead. The crimp tubes are made with a softer metal, which will be easier to crimp than the more traditional French crimps, which have a corrugated or ridged surface. I also recommend using crimp pliers. Although they are not necessary for successful crimping, they do seem to give a more secure crimp and a more rounded look - not a flattened look where they can leave sharp edges.
Be sure to follow the instructions for the crimp pliers to ensure success. It is a two-step process. Start by placing the crimp into the lower U shaped channel and squeeze firmly. Then turn ¼ and place in the top rounded channel, squeeze and you have a beautiful rounded crimp.
Q. I have always heard that fishing line should not be used for beadwork, but now many of the projects call for fire line - isn’t that fishing line? Should I use fishing line or not?
A. It’s true that fishing line (monofilament) as a beading material had a tendency to break down over time causing the beadwork to break. However, many of today’s fishing lines are made from Dynema, which is a gel spun polyethylene (GSP). This is one of the strongest fibers available and is virtually indestructible. The Dynema line is sold under the brand names Spider Line, Power-Pro, and Fire-Line. It comes in a variety of sizes, but you will usually use a 6lb or 8lb test for beading. It also has a softer drape than ordinary fishing line and can be knotted. The only drawback is the limited color selection. So, as with other areas in our lives technology is changing the industry and the old rules no longer apply. Just be sure to use a line containing GSP.
Over time we’ve received many questions about metal beads and findings so here is a few of our most common questions.
Q. What is Sterling Silver?
A. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver metal. Silver clasps are often marked with “.925” to indicate they are sterling. Since pure silver is such a soft metal findings and beads are made with 92.5% sterling (vs. 100% sterling) and mixed with a stronger metal to achieve the desired stability and hardness. The majority of our sterling is made in Bali, India, and Turkey.
Silver colored beads and finding are less expensive but may also be less flexible and durable. Personally, I prefer to use sterling silver for all my finding to ensure consistent quality for jewelry I create and sell.
Q. Are gold beads and findings made of real gold?
A. There are a few different types of gold beads and findings:
24k Gold: 100% pure gold, which is relatively soft and very expensive.
14k Gold: 58.3% gold mixed with other metals to influence hardness, color, and cost.
Gold Filled: Actually the opposite. Layers are bonded together, gold on the outside and a base metal on the inside. Our gold filled beads art 14k gold on the outside. Durable, looks like real gold, but without the price.
Vermeil: Pronounced “ver-may” is 14k gold plated over sterling silver. Looks like 24k gold but not as durable as gold filled.
Gold plated: Gold color metal plating over a base metal such as pewter or brass. Inexpensive but the plating can wear over time.
Q. What are the different metal finishes?
A. There are a variety of metal finishes to create a variety of looks:
Bright: Shiny, glossy, polished, looks new.
Stardust: Rough texture which creates a shimmer.
Antique: Metal dipped into a solution which leaves behind black accents that make a piece look old or tarnished.
Brushed: Textured to make the metal look dull or matte with some lustre.
Q. I want to start making earrings, but don’t know what kind of earwires there are?
A. Earwires are the part of the earring that goes through the ear lobe. They come in different styles to offer variety and functionality:
Kidney Wire: One thin wire that goes through the ear lobe and hooks into the front. Works well for delicate jewelry and can be secure if there is enough tension where the front and back come together.
French Wire: One wire made into a partial S-shape which when placed through the ear lobe will hang freely. Some people will add a plastic back to keep the earwire from working its way out of the ear lobe. Very easy to use and can be quite decorative. Currently a popular style.
Leverback: An upside down “U” with a hinged bottom piece which closes against itself. More secure than the French wire but less obtrusive.
Stud: Straight wire which goes through the ear and is secured by a clutch behind the ear lobe. The front of the wire can be decorative or can be used to glue an item directly on the front and dangle an item off it.
Q. I want to start selling what I make. Can you give me some tips to be successful?
A. There are many formulas for success. Here are the Basics: 10 Tips for Success
1. Develop a vision. Think about where you want to go with your jewelry line or creative endeavor.
2. Take action – choose your future & take steps each day toward your goal. Make a commitment.
3. Express yourself – develop your own style & express it through your work.
4. Get involved – be proactive. Believe in yourself and your dreams; network with others in your industry. Be honest and follow through with commitments.
5. Understand your market. Choosing the right venue for your work is key to successful selling.
6. Build a support system. You can’t do it all… all the time. Identify who you can rely on for help. These could be friends & relatives who believe in you. You should also seek out a team of professionals such as a graphic designer, lawyer, accountant, photographer and sales rep.
7. Try to find a recession proof line. Even when times are tough you can depend on the basics to sell.
8. Get inspired. Look around you to find inspiration, the colors of nature, the lines of a beautiful building, the hardware store. You never know when or where something will click, look for the beauty in the ordinary.
9. Put yourself out there. Wear what you make & show your enthusiasm & passion for what you do. Carry your card & let people know how or where they can buy your product. Have fun!
10. Be grateful. Celebrate your success. It rarely happens overnight, don’t give up! Acknowledge your achievements as you move toward your dream.
Q. I am drawn to your furnace glass beads, but want to know why they are so expensive.
A. You’re right, they are expensive. The reason is in the beadmaking process. Furnace glass beads, a.k.a. cane glass beads, tube beads, blown glass beads, pulled or drawn beads, are handmade by gathering glass in a furnace at temperatures over 2000º. The gathered glass has a core color and is then built upon with as many as 7 layers of color. It is critical to maintain the temperature of the glass during the process of adding color and blowing the glass. A blowpipe is used to blow a bubble into the center of the blob. The glass is then pulled, or drawn, to create a long hollow tube called a cane. The length of the cane can reach up to 80 feet long. The cane is then annealed, a process of cooling the glass slowly to room temperature, which releases stress so the b3ead does not break. The cane is hand cut, or sliced, using a diamond saw, tumbled to smooth the edges and fire polished in a kiln or with a torch to create a shiny finish.
Q. I want to make a freeform peyote bracelet and found instructions online. One of the "ingredients" listed is bead soup. What is it and where do I get it?
A. Bead soup is a blend of beads that work together. Occasionaly Bead Shops have bead soup mixes made up, but generally you create your own. Here is a basic recipe for bead soup, but feel free to blend what feels good to you. This is a great way to use up your leftover beads.
1. 2-3 grams of 11/0 seed beads in the primary color you want to use, then add about 2 grams of varying shades of the main color in the same size and a gram each of complimentary colors.
2. Move up to a size 8/0 and toss in a couple of grams of the same or similar color, then move up to size 6/0 and do the same. This is a good base of color.
3. Now add a variety of shapes to give texture to the mix. Keep the beads in the same color range and do not use extremely large beads as you want to keep the scale of the mix in mind. You can always use your mix around a larger focal bead on a future project.
4. Next add a touch of sparkle. Faceted beads, charlottes, 3/cuts, silverlined or metallics are a good choice for bringing the mix to life.
5. Step back and look at your blend. You may want to add a little something more or bring in another color at this time. If you are stuck, think about what inspires you - I tend to gravitate to the colors of nature, the variation of color in the sunset, the ocean or the desert. There you have it - Bead Soup!
Q. I am trying to create a necklace that will be able to resist LOTS of possible wear/tear (it is for a very active dog). Normally, I use sterling silver crimps and lobster clasps and soldered jump rings or split rings, plus Sof Flex wire. Do you have any suggestions to make my necklace more durable? For instance, it there a more secure clasp that I should consider, or perhaps a better way to end the necklace that is more secure than a sterling silver crimp (I use 2x2mm SS crimps)? Any suggestions for improvement here would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you!
A. I too make necklaces, collars and leashes for my dog Paris, who weighs 75 pounds and is very active. What I use depends upon if it's decorative (necklace) or functional (collar). When creating for pets take into condiseration size of pet, length of hair and activity level.
For something decorative use .019 (or heavier) Soft Flex wire, heavy sterling crimp tubes, and a large sterling lobster claw clasp. Add an additional crimp bead to secure the beads to the wire first, then again to attach the clasp. That way if your dog does pull it apart at least the beads will not go flying!
When choosing beads and charms remember to consider the length of your pet's hair. The longer the hair the larger the beads. I have also learned that with delicate beads like crystals you should use a spacer bead between each crystal so they don't chip or break with an active pet.
Remember to allow extra room (like a regular collar) and to attach ID. You can also use alphabet beads to spell your pet's name on his collar. When designing remember that the heaviest part of the necklace will end up under your pet's chin. So the opposite side should be the most decorative, but also lighter in weight.
For a collar that can be used with a leash - head to the hardware store. They make a nylon-coated cable (like Soft Flex on steriods) and something that looks and works like a really big crimp bead. You can also buy the clip component at the hardware store or get one from a used collar at a second hand store. Put the collar together like the necklace, but you will need bigger pliers to secure the big crimp bead. I also recommend using larger holed beads and charms. I have also purchased large guauge wire from the hardware store and made a wire wrap collar - but it's a little tough on the hands!
Last comment - never use something on your pet's collar that you cannot afford to loose... to them it's just a collar!
SEMI-PRECIOUS BEAD HOLES
Q. I recently purchased a strand of semi-precious beads. When I got home I went to make a pair of earrings but could not
get the headpins through. Why won't the pin go through when they were strung when I bought them?
A. Stone beads and pearls are drilled by hand. The process is to drill from one end to the center and then the other end
to the center. Many times the beads do not meet perfectly in the center and while a flexible cording will make it through,
a stiffer material, such as the headpin, will not. Sometimes you can use a bead reamer to enlarge the hole. You can also
use a dremel or flexshaft with a dimaond bit, but make sure you keep it wet or the bead will break. If you plan on making
earrings you may want to buy loose beads & check them with a pin as you go. If you purchase online make sure to mention
that you need the holes checked prior to shipping.
Q. I am confused by all of the bead finishes - can you help me understand the terminology?
A. Good question! There are many finishes in the bead world. You will notice we use abbreviations in our catalog as well. Click here to look at this handy chart that will explain the meaning behind the word.
Q. I am having a heck of a time keeping my beads from rolling around while I am working. A friend suggested a fine terrycloth towel, but my needle is aways catching it. What would you suggest.
A. I have seen a lot of good ideas over the years. My favorite work surface is a vellux blanket mat. Most bead shops now carry these. They are inexpensive, can be cut down to fit a lap tray and are available in many colors (although I prefer the lighter shades). Your needle does not catch and the beads stay put. Use a bead shovel and clean up is a breeze! You can easily create a travel kit by lining a lid of a food storage container with the blanket material then store your beads & tools inside for a take along beading kit.
Q. I am making bracelets for Chistmas and am stringing them on softflex wire and using crimp beads and a lobster clasp.
When I go to put the bracelet on it seems hard to put on and not at all flexible- one of the crystals chipped while I was
fastening the bracelet. What am I doing wrong?
A. This is a common mistake when you are learning to bead. The bracelet is strung too tight. When you are making a bracelet
or a necklace, add the beads in the pattern desired, when you are ready to add the clasp, make sure it is in the position it
will be worn before you crimp, this allows the flex the bracelet needs. When the bracelet is not being worn you will see a
gap between the clasp and the beads. This is normal!. If you do not have that space the cable can snap or you can break the
BEAD GIFT FOR 12 & 13 YEAR OLDS
Q. My daughter and niece are just getting into beading and I want to get them something for Christmas to encourage the hobby but not being a beader myself, I don't know where to begin. What would be good presents for these 12 and 13 year old budding beaders?
A. We have a variety of books that offer easy projects that their age group will enjoy. Here are a few appropriate suggestions.
Easy String Jewelry
Seed Bead Chains
Also, consider her interests. We have an amazing selection of Charms.I'm sure you will find some she would like. We also have Letter Beads - Name bracelet and Charm bracelets are very popular. If you still can't decide we offer Gift Certificates which allow them to make thier own choices and are always appreciated.
Thanks for your note,
Have a Great Holiday
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