Bead stringing has many advantages over other forms of jewelry making. Most beginners can learn the basics quickly. Another advantage is that you can do it just about anywhere with very few pieces of specialized equipment.
Bead Stringing Tools and Supplies
While several of the tools used in bead stringing could be found in most toolboxes or your tool drawer, those specifically designed for jewelry making are best. Feel free to use what you have at first, but realize that you always need the right tool for the right job. At a minimum you’ll need the following:
Round-nosed pliers: They aren't the usual kind from your tool chest, they are made just for jewelry makers. As the name indicates, the tips of these pliers are round. They are used for making loops or curling pieces of wire. Choose a pair with a spring in the handle.
Flat-nosed pliers: These are your basic pair of pliers with a flat nose, but the difference with those made for jewelry making is that these are smooth on the inside of the nose. Those in your tool chest often have ridges inside for gripping.
Wire cutters: You won't work with wire much while beading. But you still need a good pair of flush cut wire cutters to cut things like headpins (used to make earrings) or beading wire (a flexible coated metal wire).
Scissors: Small scissors like those used in sewing are handy to cut thread.
Glue: It’s handy to have jeweler’s glue. Hypo-cement is one brand many jewelry makers use.
Beads and Findings
Now you need the goodies to put together. Obviously, there are tons of different beads available. You can choose gemstones, crystals, pearls, glass and more. A visit to a bead store can set your imagination working on different combinations. It's best to see what you're getting when you are first starting out, even though you'll often pay more than you would by mail order. You can also shop online for beads, browsing through the choices.
Findings are all the little components you need to connect the beads together. You’ll need jump rings, headpins, ear hooks, bead tips, and clasps at a minimum to get started. These are available in all kinds of metals and designs. Pick what you like and what you can afford. Explore bead stringing findings, earring findings, and jewelry clasps and connectors.
Stringing Mediums for Beads
Now, what do you string all those beads onto? With new technology, there are almost as many types of stringing material as there are beads and findings, including silk, nylon, monofilament, nymo, silamide, and coated wire.
A good starting point is using nylon thread that comes on a card and has an attached needle with it. If you are using average-sized beads from 4 to 6 mm, get size number 4 in the color you prefer. Another material you will want to take a look at is beading wire. There are numerous manufacturers of this coated metal wire including Soft-Flex, Beadalon, and Accuflex. Get a small roll that is in the middle as far as thickness, like around .014 or .015 mm. Most bead vendors also sell stringing material.
This should help you get started making beautiful beaded jewelry.