Hobbies: Basic Beading Jewelry Design

While store-bought jewelry is nice, it is especially unique to make your own creative jewelry designs. The following are a few basic beading jewelry design hints and tricks to get you started.

Jewelry can help to dress up any outfit, no matter the style. While store-bought pieces are nice, it is especially unique to make your own creative jewelry designs. Hand-made jewelry also makes a fabulous gift that your friends and family are sure to appreciate. Beaded jewelry provides great design flexibility, ranging from a high-end design created from semi-precious stones to a low-end design made from inexpensive glass beads. Whatever your design, adding your own personal touch will help to make it special. The following are a few basic beading jewelry design hints and tricks to get you started. All of the materials mentioned below should be available at your local craft store, bead store or online bead store.

*Stringing Materials - You first need to decide what type of stringing material you wish to use. There are many varieties including elastic thread, silk thread and nylon coated wire cable (often referred to as "tigertail"). If you want a design that hangs in a loose fashion, consider using elastic thread or silk thread. If you would like a slightly more rigid piece that still has some flexibility, "tigertail" is a good choice. With elastic thread or silk thread you will use a knotting technique to hold the beads in place. With the "tigertail", you can use crimping beads (small beads that you squeeze flat with needle nosed pliers) to hold your beads in place.

*Beads - The next decision is what type of beads you would like to use. There are many varieties of beads from which to choose. Just a few include semi-precious beads, metal beads, wooden beads, glass beads, crystal beads, and the list goes on and on. If you don't know what type of beads you would like to use, a great way to get ideas is to look at catalogs from your favorite stores or to browse online. Often you can make similar pieces for a small fraction of the retail cost. If you are a creative type, you might consider just looking around the bead store until you see something that you like. Often, your bead design might include two or more types of beads. For example, you might alternate silver beads with glass beads. Use your imagination to come up with your own beautiful design.

*Findings - Findings include necklace and bracelet clasps and the hardware for earrings. Like beads, findings come in many varieties. You may select to use findings made from 14 carat gold, sterling silver, pewter or simply inexpensive metals. It is completely up to you to determine how much you would like to invest in your jewelry item. It is important to remember the style of your piece and match the findings accordingly. For example, if you are creating a dressier piece, you might use more intricate findings than you would for a casual piece.

After determining your design and purchasing your supplies, you are ready to put your piece together. Begin with a simple design, such as a single strand necklace or bracelet. This project calls for "tigertail" wire, two crimping beads, your desired number of beads for a necklace or bracelet plus a clasp. You will also need a pair of needle nosed pliers.

Cut enough wire for your desired bracelet or necklace length plus an additional two inches. String one end of a clasp onto the wire. Hold the clasp near the end of the wire, allowing for about a half inch to remain at the end. Bend the wire at that end so that the clasp sits in the bottom of the "V". String one crimping bead through both ends of the wire and slide it so that it is right by the clasp. Using your needle nosed pliers, squeeze the crimping bead until it flattens. This holds the clasp in place. Starting from the long end of the wire, string your pattern of beads until there is about one inch of wire remaining. Slide a crimping bead onto the wire followed by the other end of the clasp. Bend the wire back around and thread it through the crimping bead. As before, squeeze the crimping bead with the needle nosed pliers until it is flat and all the beads are secure. If there is any wire hanging off the end, you may clip it and tuck the end of the wire into the last bead so it is not seen.

Equipped with your new knowledge of basic beading jewelry design and a few required supplies, you are ready to make your first jewelry design. The more pieces you create, the better your designs will become. With a little patience and creativity, you can make wonderful jewelry designs that you and others are sure to enjoy for years to come.

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