3 Ideas for Jewelry Bails, Plus Free Project

New Beads, Old Problem

Take a look the cool tagua nut circles that I recently bought for a summer necklace.  Do you see the problem?  No?  Neither did I, until I started trying to design with them last weekend. 

When I'm bead shopping, my brain never gets past the "ooohhhh, pretty!" stage, so I end up with lots of beads like these that have giant holes, holes in odd places, pendants with loops facing the wrong way, or no holes at all.  It's only when I'm back at home and recovering from my glorious bead high that I realize I have no idea how I'm going to transform these beads into wearable jewelry.

3 Ideas for Jewelry Bails

As a result of buying so many beautiful "problem" beads, I've become obsessed with bails, a helpful finding that allows you to connect  pendants to necklaces.  You can buy a ready-made pendant bail or make your own.  Seed bead bails and wire bails are most common, but you can use other materials.  Recently, I made a simple bail for a large round porcelain pendant using cotton cord and knotting.  Here are three more ideas to get you started:

Copper Swirl
Susan Price Johnston

This pretty necklace uses a purchased sterling silver pendant bail.  I love how the swirls of the bail echo the swirls of ceramic pendant.  Generally, this type of bail has a spike on each side that goes into the bead's hole.  It works especially well for beads that are flat like this ceramic pendant.  It doesn't get much easier than this!


Delicate Spiral
Miwako Nara

This spiral rope necklace features a right-angle weave bail.  Nothing beats a seed bead bail for a seed bead necklace, since you're able to match both the colors and the texture of the necklace.  Other common stitches for bails include brick stitch, peyote stitch, and square stitch.  Of course, you're not limited to them–use whatever you like.


Caged Beach Glass
Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

If the item you want to hang doesn't have a hole, create a wire cage to hold the object along with a bail to hang it.  I love how the bail becomes a part of the overall pendant design and not just a tacked-on afterthought. 



New Free Project

Delicious Donut Lariat
Katie Hacker

Use a simple peyote stitch bail to turn a patterned shell donut and several strands of seed beads into a lariat necklace.  This is a companion project to Katie's Beading Secrets in the June/July 2009 issue of Beadwork.  In every issue, Katie showcases the newest beading products and offers clever suggestions and tips for how to use common materials in unconventional ways.  Her June/July column focuses on donuts and rings.  Subscribe now so you don't miss any of Katie's upcoming columns. 

There's lots to like in this new July/July issue of Beadwork, including the winners of the Beaded Book competition (check out the Dr. Seuss book in beads!) and great summer designs.  One of my favorite pieces is Jean Campbell's peyote stitch and square stitch focal in her Sjournee Flower necklace (pictured here).  Isn't it striking?  I'm tempted to follow her suggestion in the magazine and create a bold cuff bracelet with several flowers instead of using it for a necklace.  What do you think?  Share your thoughts on the website

Post a Comment