If you’re new to beading and jewelry making, stringing is probably one of the easiest techniques to try. You don’t need a lot of special equipment and the possibilities for creative design are endless.
What you will need:
Tools – Crimp pliers, Needle or chain nose pliers, Small wire cutters
Flexible beading wire such as Soft Flex, Accu Flex, or Tigertail
Findings – Crimp beads, Jewelry clasps, Jump rings (for hanging pendants)
Beads – any colors, any shapes, but large enough to fit over the wire you’ve chosen
Work surface – a beading board or cloth will help your beads not roll away.
All these supplies can be found at a general crafts store such as Michael’s Craft or JoAnn’s Fabrics, or online at bead retailers like Firemountain Gems and Beads and Fusion Beads.
One of the most enjoyable parts of stringing is picking out the beads. When you enter a bead shop or a craft store, you may be overwhelmed by all the varieties and tempted to buy them all. Who can resist? But you need to try or your wallet will be left with lint. Try to focus on one project at a time and buy beads that seem to coordinate with one another in color or shape. That way you’ll be more likely to use them, Many beads are sold in 16-inch strands, and one or two strands should be enough for a necklace when you are mixing them with other miscellaneous beads.
Consider including some metal beads to act as spacers between your other beads and break up the color, or try mixing some smaller beads like 4mm ones with larger ones (such as 12mm) to act as spacers and give your design some breathing room.
The basic process for stringing a necklace is to start with a crimp bead on your wire, then add your clasp and bend the wire so it forms a loop by putting it back through the crimp bead. Then use your crimp pliers to close the crimp and hold the loop and the clasp in place. Firemountain Gems and Beads has a great online guide for using crimp pliers. The important thing to remember with crimps it to buy pliers and crimps that go together. Some crimps are smaller than others and require a smaller (micro) set of pliers to bend them properly.
After you have the clasp on one end of your wire, measure out about 24 inches of wire if you are planning a 16 to 20-inch necklace and cut the other end of the wire with your wire cutters. Now you’re ready to string.
A beading board can be very useful at this stage because you can lay out all your beads in the order you want to string them and adjust the pattern if you need to. Some beading boards, such as the model shown below, also have measurements on them to help you see how many beads you need to make a certain length necklace.
Once you know the order of the beads, start from one end of your design and string them on your wire. When your necklace is the length you need it, string another crimp bead, then your clasp and create the loop to hold the clasp and crimp as you did to start. Trim any excess wire from the edge of the crimp bead with your wire cutters. If you don’t like the look of crimp beads, bead covers are available that you can place over the crimp bead to hide it. The covers looks like small metal beads after you close them.
The links below provide additional information you may find helpful and I’ve also listed some books about stringing that you may enjoy.
JEMLibrary.com: Beading Wire and Tigertail for Jewelry Making
Bella Online: Jewelry Making Techniques – Bead Stringing & Beadwork
How to Make Beaded Jewelry: How to String Beads