Help me become a more effective beader
July 2, 2004 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Beading question- I am making a simple seed bead necklace, a few bracelets, and earrings. The beads are too small for any needle I have, but it is excessively tedious stringing the teensy beads one by one (especially since I am working toward a thick, ropy and twisted necklace). I know nothing about beading, so I am wondering if anyone here can give me tips, shortcuts, or just tell me that there is no other way to do it.
posted by oflinkey to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are specialty beading needles available (for example) which are long and very thin and aggravating to thread, but much better than trying to string everything unaided.

Another option is to find some fine-gauge wire and fold it into a loop to hold thread - copper from multistrand cable cores works really well.
posted by casarkos at 3:32 PM on July 2, 2004

Or dip the last couple inches of your thread in some nail polish and let it dry. Should make it a bit stiffer, which will help you string more beads at a time.
posted by web-goddess at 4:45 PM on July 2, 2004

the big eye needles are very easy to thread but are too large for the smallest seed beeds. They're inexpensive though. Go to your nearest Hobby Lobby or Michaels or MJ Designs or what have you and they should have a selection. The long big eye needles are really meant for loom work but would work OK for necklaces and stuff. The nice thing about them is that you can lay out dozens of beads at once, which makes it easier to see the pattern, etc.

Look into more involved beadwork too, there is some great stuff, like DNA-looking necklaces, herringbone design, "peyote" woven necklaces, etc. It's all pretty easy.

Yeah. I'm a guy. I do all this stuff, I have a bead loom, etc. I'm a wacko.
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:46 PM on July 2, 2004

My wife and I do beadwork as part of making a living (her site is here). Bead sizes start at 12°, which is very small and most needles don’t go through them. 11° beads are larger and you can use a big eye needle with most of them. 10° beads are fine with most needles. I use the big eye needle, grab the beads from the hank with my thumb and middle finger and slip them on to the needle. Individual beads I poke from individuals trays. This works when you are using thread. It also helps to wax the thread to stiffen and preserve it.

If you are using a thicker string or cord, you have to use the larger size bead. There really is no substitute for just grabbing the bead(s) and sipping them on the string. Stiffening the ends with krazy glue or nail polish can sometimes help but for me it’s messy and time consuming. Beadwork basically is excessively tedious stringing the teensy beads one by one.

See Rusty - it’s ok, there are guys that do this. It’s not wacko, really!
posted by jabo at 8:31 PM on July 2, 2004

I'm OK with it. But yet I don't really talk about it with my friends at work over the water cooler. Once you get into the flow of things it's not so tedious, you can relax and do other stuff. I make mistakes all the time but I've gotten used to how to back out of them. Most beading patterns I've used for making woven things operate on faith. You just follow the instructions until you've done it a few times and see that it really does work. Through here, under there, count over 3 beads, back through the other side, pull tight repeat, etc. Lots of great books on this stuff at any craft store.
posted by RustyBrooks at 11:40 PM on July 2, 2004

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