Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Tuesdays Tutorial - How to make a full string of beads necklace

Many of you will be aware that I run basic jewellery making workshops throughout the year, which is great for those who want to learn how to make their own jewellery, if you live in Staffordshire or Shropshire, but for those of you who live further afield it's not so great - so I thought I would provide a series of simple basic photographic tutorials on this blog. Of course if you were to attend one of my workshops all the materials and tools are provided for you, whereas you are going to have to source your own, but there are a huge number of good bead suppliers out there so that shouldn't be too difficult for you!
I have been making jewellery now for twenty years and although I am totally self taught never having attended any workshops myself, the way I make my jewellery works for me, you may read about or be shown alternative techniques which will probably work just as well, but this is how I make my jewellery.

Today I am going to show you how to string beads to make a necklace.

You will need:-
A pair of sharp scissors
2 pairs of snipe nosed pliers
a board or mat to plan out your necklace
nail varnish - preferably clear
beading thread
thread conditioner
2 calotte crimps
2 jump rings
1 split ring
1 clasp
a selection of beads of your choice

Okay here we go!

Preparing your thread before stringing your necklace

firstly you need to select your beading thread and cut a generous length, more than double the length of your finished necklace. thread on your needle.
I use these twisted wire needles, but you may prefer to use a fine metal needle that holds its shape better - it is all down to personal preference!

once you have threaded your needle tie both ends together in a double knot and secure the knot by brushing some clear nail varnish over it -

Your thread will also benefit from being conditioned, place thread over conditioner and then hold it down with a finger whilst gently pulling the thread across the conditioner to the other end, then gently work the conditioner into the thread by pulling through your fingers two or three times.

place the thread to one side to allow the nail varnish to dry.

now it is time to
plan your necklace
When I first started making jewellery, my work board was a chopping board, it worked perfectly well especially as it had a small ditch near to the outside edge to catch the beads or even plan out designs.

Now I find that these soft mats work very well and I will use these most of the time for my designs

The main draw back though is it doesn't have measurements so if you are planning a necklace to a set length it is best to use a necklace planning board

so here we go...

Once the necklace has been planned it is almost time to start threading -

firstly though let's cover up that ugly knot, the nail varnish would have dried by now so you need a calotte crimp, these are similar to tiny clam shells, basically they are a round hollow bead with a loop at the top and have an opening along one side.
slip the knot inside the crimp with the loose ends coming out at the loop

then with a pair of snipe nosed pliers gently pinch the crimp closed so it looks like a round bead at the end of your thread

Threading you beads
Now you can thread your beads - it doesn't matter which end you start at but once you have committed yourself, keep going in order. Every so often hold your threading up to check that you haven't missed a bead or added an extra one, also check that you are happy with the design, it is never too late to remove your beads and adjust your design, the key is to keep checking!

Once all your beads are on and you have made a final check over them and you are happy with your design, hold your necklace so that the string hangs down and you have the needle end at the top - tie a double knot fairly close to the last bead - if knot is too close to the beads they won't hang properly and the necklace will look slightly rigid, if it is too loose you will see the thread at the end and the beads will move about. Secure the knot with nail varnish again and leave to dry - 

this is when I will then make a pair of earrings to match - if you want to do the same please take a look at my earring making tutorial

earrings made and the nail varnish on your second knot should now be dry so you can attach the calotte crimp in the same way as the first, then you need to cut off the thread sticking out from the crimps as close to the crimp as possible 

Time to attach the clasp

twist open one of your jump rings using both pairs of pliers, use one pair to hold the jump ring and twist open with the other, don't pull the ring open as this will weaken the metal. Once the jump ring is open slip in the split ring and then slip the jump ring through the calotte crimp twist back the ring  closed. 

repeat for the other end attaching the clasp 
then all is done your necklace should be complete