How to Get Started Stringing Jewelry–The Right Tools
Starting something new is exciting, but it can also be a bit intimidating. However, with the right tools, the job becomes quicker and easier. Take cake decorating for example. Years ago I spent several weeks in culinary school studying to be a pastry chef. I loved everything about pastries and breads, and about pies and plated desserts. And I thought I did a pretty good job at cake decorating. But looking back, I recall how I really struggled with my cakes until I was introduced to the proper tools.
I hadn’t realized it before, but using the proper tools really does make the job easier and leads to more professional results. For example, I learned that there are numerous tips available to make a variety of decorative swirls and flower doodads on a cake. And I was shown how to use a coupler (a little ring thingy that attaches the decorative tip to the icing bag) to easily change from one type of tip to another without having to fill a separate icing bag each time I wanted to use a different tip.
I learned to use a palette knife with an angled handle to smooth the icing on the top and sides of a cake, and that dipping the palette knife into hot water beforehand results in smoother icing. I experimented with plastic and metal “cake combs” to add striped or zig-zag designs to the sides of a cake. And I became proficient at using a turntable to ensure an even design around the edges. Overall, it became clear to me that being armed with the right tools and a little knowledge on how to use them makes all the difference in the end product!
Getting Started Stringing Jewelry
When I started stringing jewelry many years ago, I used clear elastic cord and glass beads; I didn’t know about any of the other materials that existed. I diligently formed knots to join the cord ends, and then used a drop of clear nail polish to secure each one. The only tool I thought I needed was a pair of scissors (and a plastic organizer for all of my glass beads!). Then I discovered monofilament and crimp beads and taught myself how to use both–together. For the record, I don’t recommend using crimp beads with monofilament, as they are apt to slice right through the monofilament!
I also remember going to Home Depot and buying a pair of pliers to make a beaded wire hair clip that my friend and I spotted in a magazine. With my very first tool in hand, I thought I was well on my way to making jewelry, even though my tools and techniques were quite rudimentary!
I’m not sure when or how I was introduced to nylon-coated beading wire, but boy did that open up a world of possibilities! I soon learned about jump rings and clasps. I bought crimping pliers and wire cutters. I spent hours at my local craft store, combing through beading magazines and books and roaming the bead aisles. Eventually I taught jewelry classes at that craft store, and finally landed at Interweave, where I got my start on Jewelry Stringing and Beadwork magazines. The rest, as they say, is history.
Tools for the Beginner and Beyond
When I was teaching jewelry classes to beginners, I would introduce my students to the basic tools and findings needed to make a strung bracelet or necklace. To have a proper set of tools, a spool of nylon-coated beading wire and some flush cutters are essential. Crimping pliers and crimp tubes are necessary for adding any type of finding to the beading wire, such as jump rings or clasps. Having a good pair of chain-nose pliers is important. Round-nose pliers are needed once you start working with simple or wrapped loops, which connect components to one another. Of course there are many other tools that can be added down the road, but I consider these to be the absolute essentials to start making strung jewelry.
Are you just starting out making jewelry? Or do you have a friend that you’d like to introduce to the craft? You’ll want to pick up a Stringing Starter Kit HERE. This collection comes with everything shown above, plus the Getting Started Stringing Beads ebook by the founding editor of Beadwork and Jewelry Stringing, Jean Campbell. The ebook contains a comprehensive guide to the materials and beads used in jewelry stringing projects, illustrated how-to techniques, design tips, plus step-by-step instructions for various projects.
Remember when I mentioned that being armed with the right tools and a little knowledge on how to use them makes all the difference? Well, it’s all right here! You’ll love having all of the necessary tools and findings in one place, plus this thorough introduction to stringing beads by the foremost expert in the industry!
Debbie Blair, Beadwork editor
Jump into stringing jewelry with this comprehensive Stringing Starter Kit Bundle!