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Knowledge Centre - Beginners

We have assembled an assortment of questions we have been asked on the subject of starting jewellery making.

Beginners Stringing Ordering Design Tips Miscellaneous Selling

Hi - I'm keen to make a long pearl necklace, roughly 130cm in length. I'm not sure of a) the best type of silk to use, or b) the type of knot to do at the end by the clasp (and how to secure it). I assume it's just best to hand tie simple knots between each bead? If you could advise me on what silk I need and if there are any other things I need to know in advance, that would be much appreciated! Many thanks

Jenny

Dear Jenny

I have my own particular way of stringing pearls, and have found that our mediumweight silk is excellent for stringing - this comes with a needle attached, and it is just a process of patiently getting your knot as close to the pearl as possible - however, I have looked online for a more meaningful description of how to do this and I think the best instructions are those I found below (I have adapted them to make them a little easier to read) --- I will in due course probably write a tutorial as to pearl stringing, but in the meantime, I hope that this helps - the below was taken from https://beadwork.about.com/library/weekly/blear.him.

Kind regards
Stephanie
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Here's how to knot a great strand of pearls for yourself:

Pearls and/or beads of your choice
Silk cord in a size to work with your pearls
Calotte Knot Covers - 2 (Necklace ends)
Glue
Chainnose Pliers

1. Unwind a card of silk cord, the size most suitable for your pearls. I like to pass it through a curling iron or even press it with an iron to smooth out the kinks from the card.
2. Make a knot in the end of the silk. Tie over it about 3 times, to end up with a large knot. Leave the tail of silk cord attached.
3. Place a calotte/necklace end knot cup over the end of the cord. Add a drop of glue to your knot, trim the tail of cord and close the calotte/necklace end.
4. Tape the closed clamshell to your workspace and make a knot right next to the calotte/necklace end.
5. Add your first pearl and slide it up the silk until it sits right next to the knot you just made in Step 4.
6. Make a knot next to it, and continue adding pearls and making knots until you come to the end of your strand of silk, or until your knotted strand is the length you desire.
7. When you have reached the end of your strand, add a calotte/necklace end and make two or three large knots right next to it. Add a drop of glue, trim the remaining silk and close the calotte/necklace end.
8. Add findings on both ends, being sure to closed the calotte/necklace ends gently. Remember, if they should break, you will have to start all over, as it is very difficult to salvage the strand after the silk has been cut.

Tips: If you have trouble matching thread, use one a shade darker and one a shade lighter to make a blend that will add depth and look very nice in your finished product.
Check your knot and bead placement carefully and make any changes before you finalise the knot.
If you make a mistake, knots can be untied BEFORE the final tug on the silk. After that, it's pretty hard to undo the knots.

Hi I love your site which I have just found.   Could you please advise me which tools I might need to buy first as a beginner.   To begin I would like to make bag and phone dangly things so I am interested in clasps, wire to hang bead/stones on and the bit that goes on the end. I also do machine knitting ( no interest to you) but I use 6 mm barrel beads ( ones with largish holes) for that so would like to keep to the same size. Do you sell those or similar? I would also like to make pins for shawls which are a round ring with a pin that goes in and out through the ring and shawl. Have you any suggestions for making the pin?   I live in Spain and return on the 13th Sept so I would like to be able take it home with me if possible to avoid extra postage.  

Many regards   Jillian  

        Dear Jillian  

Thank you very much for your e-mail Yes, we stock phone charm findings --- these are to be found in our Sundries section under number SU-145 and SU-193 and these are £2.00 for 10; you have a choice of silver-tone or gold-tone; to attach your beads to the charm, you will need headpins, and I would suggest that plated metal ones would be just fine for these and these are PF-7 OR PF-10 depending on the metal colour you are after - you won't need a clasp, because the cord end passes through the zipper or hole in the phone and when looped back round, is what holds your charm onto your bag or phone or whatever; then you will just need to add beads and/or charms.....and of course on that one, over to you - if you do take a look at the site, there are some worked examples photographed when you click on the picture of the phone charm findings themselves.  

As for tools...again, we do a basic range of tools - you will need something to cut your metal, something to make a loop and something to hang on - three pairs of pliers - we also do a three-in-one type plier, or you could do what I did when I first started and raided my husband's tool stash whilst you are deciding whether it is worth investing in tools.   If you need help with techniques, please take a look at our Hints and Tips sections on the site.   We do struggle to source beads with large holes, and in fact apart from a few sterling silver beads are not currently carrying any - sorry not to be able to help on this one.  

As for the pins, yes, I have seen hand-made pins which have been hammered and forged, and it is possible to make your own with sheet metal and wire though this is more of a silversmithing area and this of course is not the focus of BeadAddict --- I am unaware of any that are ready-made as all the examples I have ever seen have been worked by hand by a metalsmith - I took a smithing course at my local college, though I am not sure if that is an option available to you in Spain - its a relatively easy exercise, but making anything like this by hand is very time consuming; I hope you will have a go at making your own at some point as working with metal sheet is interesting and rewarding (though I decided not to pursue it because I did not like the nasty scary flames in the workshop!!!)  

Postage to Europe is £4.50 (I think - though Mark deals with this area, so please do forgive me if I am incorrect here), or free if your order totals over £100.   Hope this helps

Kind regards     Stephanie  

Could you give any tips on how to string pearls and finish/attach the ends to a clasp?  

Dear Nathalie  

Thank you for your order.   With regards to your query about how to string pearls, I am presuming you are referring to using silk thread.  Most people use calottes for the ends of the thread; then it is a case of threading on a pearl, and then making a neat knot or a double knot right against the pearl and so on and so forth - this is the tricky bit, and most people use a needle to guide the knot downwards to ensure a snug fit against the pearl.  It takes practice, it can be frustrating, and it is often not one of those things that just happens straight away.   I personally tend not to use the calottes; I tend to use my own method (hints and tips) where I make a loop with rocailles or sterling beads which I can then thread onto the fittings I use.   Finally, there is also the option of using gimp/bullion/french wire - you thread your silk through and make a loop then knot and then thread on your pearls - this is the most traditional method - its up to you which one you favour.   The point of all these ends to the silk thread is basically to protect the silk and stop it wearing as quickly as it would unprotected - over time silk will stretch, take on bodily oils and perfume, and will need renewing dependent on how often your piece of jewellery is worn - silk is a thread that will not last forever, but it drapes pearls beautifully, and is the expected threading medium for quality pearls.   It can be very very tricky indeed to get the silk to 'behave' but once you do it really is worth the effort.   Hope this helps  

Kind regards Stephanie  

Stephanie  

I have just started making jewellery and have been buying some beads from you (just about to place another order) and wonder if you could advise me on something which is frustrating me!   I always seem to end up with plier marks on the silver wire I use and wonder if you have anything which I could use to ‘smooth’ and polish the wire to its original state. Or perhaps there are pliers which don’t mark so much. Mine are inexpensive hobby pliers with metal ends.   Can you help?  

Regards Amanda  

Dear Amanda....   try wrapping masking tape a couple of times round the ends of your pliers....and experiment with different pressures on your wire - I know exactly what you mean about this, but you could consider making deliberate marks up and down the wire too to give the impression that this is what you intended all the time - if you get hold of a dremel machine and etch a design into a small headed hammer then hammer your wire gently, this will mark it fairly uniformly and you've hidden your working marks...alternatively there are nylon jawed pliers on the market....we used to sell them but found that they were not that effective because they kept slipping off people's work so we discontinued them....but hopefully the above will have given you a few ideas and I hope at least one of them will work for you.  

Kind regards Stephanie