Stringing beads on beading wire is one of the most popular methods for making beaded jewelry. It's also one of the simplest -- which makes it a great technique for beginners. Once you get the hang of bead stringing, the creative possibilities for making beading necklaces, bracelets, and anklets are nearly endless. Read on if you're ready to give it a try.
1. Gather Your Beads and Plan Your Design
Begin by gathering your beads and planning out your design. In this tutorial, we'll use the same type and size of beads for the entire strand, taking the guesswork out of design.
When you use a variety of different types, colors, or sizes of beads, it's a good idea to use a bead board to plan out your pattern. By rearranging beads on the board, you can "audition" different color combinations and motifs before you start stringing.
You can string just about any type of bead on beading cable: large or small, glass or gemstone, round or shaped. However, it's best to avoid extremely heavy beads or beads with jagged edges, both of which may wear down your cable and cause it to break prematurely.
In the example, I used 94 4mm round Czech fire polished glass beads in Raspberry Mint Ice Cream HurriCane.
2. Gather Your Beading Supplies
In addition to beads, you'll need the following supplies:
- Beading wire in an appropriate size for your beads (the example uses 0.015", 19-strand Beadalon in "bright")
- Two crimp beads or crimp tubes in an appropriate size for your beading wire (the example uses 2x2mm sterling silver crimp tubes)
- Crimping pliers (the example uses medium size crimping pliers)
- Two pairs of chain nose pliers (or one pair of chain nose and one pair of flat nose pliers)
- Round nose pliers
- Wire cutters
- A ruler or yard stick
- End findings and a clasp of your choice (the example uses a 10mm sterling silver lobster clasp and two 6mm, 16-gauge sterling silver jump rings)
- Optional: A pendant or other adornment of your choice (the example uses a silver clay pendant)
3. Trim Your Beading Wire
Pull a length of beading wire from the spool, measure it out to your desired length, and trim it with the wire cutters. To determine the proper length, add about 10 inches to the total desired length of your necklace or bracelet, not including the clasp.
In the example, I'm stringing a necklace that will be about 16 inches long. I estimate that my clasp will take up about 3/4 inch (0.75 inch) of the necklace. To calculate how much beading wire to pull and cut, I did the following:
16 — 0.75 = 15.25 inches (this will be the length of the beaded strand)
15.25 + 10 = 25.25 inches of beading wire
(Please click on the images throughout this article for larger views.)
4. String On the First Crimp
Pass one end of the beading wire up through one of the crimps, positioning the crimp about three inches from the end of the wire. Then pass back down through the crimp, pulling the short wire tail until a small loop forms. Be sure to make this loop large enough to accommodate the jump rings that you plan to attach later.
5. Begin Securing the First Crimp
Notice that the crimping pliers have two pairs of indentations: one is round on both jaws, and the other is round on one jaw and notched (or serrated) on the other jaw (this usually is the pair of indentations closest to the handles).
Very gently grasp the crimp using the notched/round indentations, but do not squeeze down the pliers just yet.
6. Properly Position the Beading Wire Inside of the Crimp
While still holding the crimp with the crimping pliers, use the fingers of your other hand to separate the wire strands so that both strands (actually, the same strand folded over) run parallel to one another inside of the crimp. Hold the wires apart to keep them from crossing.
7. Squeeze Down the Crimping Pliers
Now squeeze the crimping pliers firmly to make the first indentation in the crimp.
The crimp should now have two channels (or little pipes), one on each side. One strand of wire should be inside each channel.
Tip: If you're using an extra-long crimp tube, such as a 3mm or 4mm tube, you may need to squeeze the tube more than once to make the initial indentation. Reposition the pliers as needed to indent the entire length of the tube.
8. Reposition the Crimp in the Jaws of the Pliers
Grasp the crimp with the pliers again, this time using the other pair of indentations (the double-round indentations). Turn the crimp 90 degrees from its original angle: the wire strands should be stacked on top of each other.
9. Squeeze Down the Crimping Pliers Again
Firmly squeeze the handles of the crimping pliers again. Your goal is to fold the crimp in half lengthwise, with one channel (and one strand of wire) enclosed in each half.
The crimp is now secured.
Tip: Make sure that the crimp does not open up during this step, rather than folding over. If you notice it starting to open, go back to Step 7 and squeeze down the first indentation again, this time using more pressure.
10. Trim Excess Beading Wire From the Wire Tail
At this point you can use wire cutters to trim the beading wire tail. How short you trim it is a matter of preference. Theoretically, if you use a proper size of crimp and close it securely with the pliers, you safely can trim the wire tail up against the crimp. This should not make the crimp more prone to slipping.
However, many beaders prefer to leave an inch or so of wire tail, and hide that tail within their beads. This gives the crimp a little extra room to slip if it becomes loose, without falling off the strand entirely.
In the example, I decided to trim the wire tail all the way up against the crimp.