Stitch Pro: Breaking Bad…Beads

My son has tried to get me hooked on the show Breaking Bad ever since it appeared on Netflix. I'm always happy to have a new show to bead by, and since I beaded through a couple seasons of Weeds, he probably thought I'd like it. But after I watched the first episode and found myself unable to shake the image of a rather trouserless science teacher stumbling from the meth-making fumes he produced in an R.V. in the middle of the desert, I figured I was done contributing any more of my brain power to such drivel.

You're probably wondering why I'm telling you this. Well, while I was watching that first episode, I was so spaced out and made so many mistakes in my beadwork that I found myself breaking many badly placed beads to straighten out my stitching. Breaking Bad, indeed! The irony of the situation made me laugh, helping me forget my frustration.

Yes, breaking a seed bead now and then is just something we beadworkers do…on purpose. In one case we may have added too many beads in a stitch, In another, we've placed the wrong color of bead. There's a point at which you have to make a decision whether to rip out, start over, or just break a bead and clean up the stitching, and many times the best thing to do is that final choice. Breaking a misplaced bead is pretty easy, but what's the best way to break a bead? Here are two of my favorite ways:

Chain-nose pliers: Put on your safety goggles (we're going to be breaking glass, you know!). Isolate the offending bead as much as possible by loosening the threads around it. Grasp the bead with chain-nose pliers, cover the area with your hand, and squeeze the pliers to break the bead. Note: Only use this method if you're using a braided beading thread like FireLine. The broken glass is very abrasive and can cut the thread.

Awl: Again, put on your safety glasses. Place the point of the awl into the offending bead and, taking care not to stab yourself, gently push the awl into the bead until the bead breaks. Note: This method is a little easier on the thread than the chain-nose pliers technique, but you'll still want to be careful about thread abrasion and flying glass.

Do you have other favorite ways to break beads that you'd like to share? Or maybe some television shows you like to bead by? We'd love to hear from you!

Happy beading-

Jean Campbell, Senior editor, Beadwork magazine


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