Monday, October 20, 2008

What do you string on?

Spent the better parts of Friday and Saturday at the Creativ (sic) Festival (you can't begin to believe how the affectation of spelling it "Creativ" bothers me!!!!) - demo'ing making various pieces of jewelry. When we ran out of one component, Cynthia would bring me a pile of something and say - "Here, we have lots of these," and away I'd go again. I came up with a nice bracelet using Swarovski cubes (whotasurprise) and square bead frames - look for that as an inspiration as soon as I can get it back from Cynthia to shoot it (read - pry it off her arm. She liked it.)

Probably the question I heard the most was: "What do you string on?" Well - that varies with the what I am stringing.

Generally, for a simple stringing project, one bead after the other, most of us around here use Softflex - which is a brand-name speciality bead-stringing cable. It is made up of multiple strands of stainless steel wire, twisted and coated with a durable, clear, nylon coating - which makes it very strong, doesn't discolour, and is not subject to fraying, and is kink-resistant - although not -proof. Now that we are also carrying more of the Beadalon line, we are finding that we like this product very much too - both are the same idea. Many people refer to these as beading wire, but they are not wire in the classic sense - being more flexible and durable than regular wire.

For your first spool - I suggest the "medium" weight - as it is the most versatile. The "fine" is best for smaller beads, and a must for pearls - as pearls have notoriously small holes. If your taste runs to large beads, lampwork, big stone beads, etc. - then the "heavy" weight is your best choice - as it better fits the larger holes of the lampwork beads (holes much larger than the stringing "wire" means the beads can shift from side to side, and don't line up nicely when hanging) - and better takes the weight and the possible abrasion of the stone beads.

This "wire" does need to be crimped to be secure - but as you already know how to crimp, that shouldn't be a problem.

If you are making something where you will be passing multiple times through a single bead, like a complex pattern or a bead weaving project - you'll want to pick something in a beading thread - like Nymo or similar. There are a number of threads on the market now, and they all have good points. We'll see if we can't get someone else to blog about threads - as I don't use them much and don't have a very sophisticated opinion on them.

For something that requires multiple passes through beads, but has perhaps metal beads or sharp beads, you'll want something both tough and abrasion resistant and slippery as well - like the braided threads. I like the Power-Pro - but again - not my speciality.

Silk is traditional for pearls - but, traditionally, pearls were also re-strung every 2 years or so because the silk decays and rots. ;-) In those days, if you could afford pearls - you could afford their maintenance - but these days - who has time for that sort of thing? There are synthetic alternatives. BTW - I have it on good authority that embroidery floss also works very well (divide the strands) and comes in a rainbow of colours. If you think white pearls knotted on white silk is so last century, try coloured pearls on contrasting thread.

There are lots of options for stringing these days - way more than the "fishing line or tiger tail" of 30 years ago - enough options to confuse the heck out of a beginner - but this should get you started. Once you've tried a few projects - then it's time to branch out a bit more! (Tiger tail, btw, is a fore-runner to the beading cable of today - it is a twisted steel cable, but does not have a nice protective coating, and is notorious for kinking accidentally and putting a bend in your necklace where you don't want it.)

1 comment:

Softflexgirl said...

We sure do appreciate your selling our products in your store. The next time I am in Toronto, I definitely hope to stop by the store. :)

Sara