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Quick Primer on Stretch Cords

Dateline: 08/14/00

I have been getting some inquiries about the new stretch cords lately, so I thought this might be a good time to pass on a little information about how to use these cords.

First of all - let me define the different types of stretch cord, or at least the ones that I know of! There is Stretch Magic, a very strong, very elastic beadwork cord. It is commonly used for the new "endless bracelets" and has other great applications as well. It is a bit on the pricey side, but is extremely durable. Another product on the market is good old covered elastic cord. it is now made in a diameter thin enough to be used with 11/0 seed beads, and is very inexpensive. It is, however, not very durable and should be used with care.

There is also a cord called Monofilament and one called "Illusion" cord. These are not generally stretchy cords, but are clear cords to be used in the "floating" and "illusion" necklaces.

So - I generally recommend the Stretch Magic, or one like it; there are several different brands. It is about the most durable and tough elastic cord on the market.

As for how to work these cords - there are a few schools of thought. I prefer using the smooth, cylindrical crimp, and crimping them with a crimp tool. This makes for a smoother edge. The other way to work it is to stretch the cord out, then knot it. The easiest way I have found to do this is to use a "third hand". This is a tool specially designed for this type of task. Check Rio Grande for availability of this neat little gizmo.

Then, I add a drop of Super Glue to the knot, just to hold it in place. I have tried clear nail polish, which does not work well. Wait until the glue has dried to clip the ends, as the knot will slip out if the glue has not set. Push the knot inside one of the beads to hide it.

Another way to secure the cord is to melt the knot together. The absolute best way to do this is to use the lit end of a piece of stick incense. Personally, I am not completely sold on this method, as my eyesight is not as good as it once was, and to make sure I do not get the incense close to cord that holds the beads. If you do melt a bit of this, even if you do not melt through it, you will weaken the cord and the piece will probably break in a short time.

Keep the finished pieces out of water, and out of light when not in use. These elements can weaken or disintegrate any type of stringing material. Also, I do not know how long these cords will last, I have heard reports of over a year with constant use, when finished properly. I would not recommend using this cord with very heavy or very valuable beads, as there is too much loss potential. However, the cord can be knotted, so that might be a fun project to try, and would add a great deal of security to the piece, as long as the knots do not slip freely between the beads.

Try some of this cool new stuff! I bet you can come up with some really cool new ways to use it. And when you do, let me know. Send me pictures. I love to see all the cool ways so many talented beaders can utilize new products!

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