Buffer That Bead! Protect Your Stringing Material When Using Lampwork Glass Beads

Nothing gives your beaded necklaces and bracelets a bit of character like a handmade lampwork glass bead. These lovely little bits of glass art come straight from the human imagination, and I love the way they can infuse a beaded necklace design with a little splash of unexpected color or draw your eye to their unusual shapes. Working with handmade lampwork glass beads requires a few tricks for making beaded jewelry that lasts, particularly when it comes to protecting your stringing wire.

lampwork glass bead on a head pin
The easiest way to protect your beading wire is to string your glass bead on a headpin and make a wrapped loop.

Lampwork glass beads can have bead holes with rough edges, and after a while, these edges can cause significant wear and tear on your beading wire. I can attest to the fact that there's nothing worse than watching a beaded necklace fall apart after having your beading wire worn thin! Taking care of your beading wire can make your finished piece last a lifetime – or longer.

Smooth out any rough edges using a bead reamer. A diamond-coated bead reamer is the perfect tool for smoothing out any rough edges on your glass bead. Hold the bead and the reamer underwater and apply gentle pressure to the edges of the hole in your glass bead. A bead reamer can also be used to widen the hole in a glass bead to accommodate a thicker beading wire. Always use the bead reamer under water, preferably in a large pan of water. The water will keep the glass cool and prevent any stray pieces of glass from flying towards your face. (That said, you should also wear safety glasses when using a bead reamer to prevent injury to your eyes!)

For glass beads with larger holes, a bit of french bullion can protect your beading wire.

Use your seed beads. For glass beads with larger holes, you can string a section of seed beads on your beading wire the same length as your glass bead and then slip it over the seed beads. The seed beads will keep the edges of the glass bead from rubbing against your stringing material and prevent wear and tear. If you don't want the seed beads to show, use a bead cap over the ends of the glass bead. The bead cap will add a little extra protection to your beading wire, too.

Cover the beading wire with french bullion. If the bead hole is too small for seed beads, try using a small piece of french bullion (wire). Cut the wire slightly larger than the glass bead and slip it on your beading wire. Then slide the glass bead over the french bullion. Cover up the ends of the french bullion with some pretty bead caps or cones, if you'd like.

Wire it up! My old standby for protecting my beading wire from the wear and tear of glass beads is to put the bead on a head pin or eye pin and then string it as a dangle. Make a wrapped loop on either end of your glass bead to use it as a fancy link, too! In this case, though, you also want to make sure that you protect the hole of your glass bead by stringing some spacer beads or seed beads on either end of your head pin. The spacer beads will take some of the pressure off your glass bead and prevent the bead hole from cracking.

Now that you know how to protect your beading wire from the wear and tear that can be caused by your favorite glass beads, how about a little inspiration for some new beading projects? Every season, Stringing magazine brings you fabulous beading projects from your favorite designers using all types of wonderful jewelry making components and glass beads. In every issue of Stringing magazine, you'll learn new techniques and get the buzz on new beading products. Subscribe to Stringing magazine today and don't miss a single issue!

Do you have a tip for protecting your stringing material when you use lampwork glass beads in your beading projects? Leave a comment here on the blog and share it with us!

Bead Happy,


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