Stitch Pro: Coloring Braided Beading Threads like FireLine
Seasoned beaders consider their thread like Yo-Yo Ma might his bow, Serena Williams' her racket, or heck, a 14-year-old girl considers her texting keyboard. (You probably know that I'm referring to my own daughter, who is a texting pro…she clocked in 15,000 texts one month. How is that possible? That is a lot of texts everyday, even though most of them are probably just "Hey" or "Wassup?"). As usual, I digress (and don't worry–I took her phone away and her grades are good). My point is that yes, beading thread is like an artist's paintbrush–it is such a personal choice that when I teach and provide kits, I tell folks to bring their own thread. There's just something about pulling the "right" thread through your fingers…I know this sensation makes or breaks the beading experience for me.
I was always a nylon beading thread gal (and my considerable stash of nylon thread shows this) until I taught a class several years ago at the Bead Society of Greater New York. Those gals introduced me to braided beading thread, and I never turned back. Because it doesn't fray, is strong, and is easy to pass through the tiniest of beading needle eyes, it has cut lots of frustration out of my beading sessions. The downside, of course, has been that it only comes in a few colors: smoke, crystal, moss green, and hot pink. This limited color palette means that I can't always match my thread to my beads, something I loved to do with the myriad colors of Nymo, C-Lon, and Silamide I own. There is a go-around to this problem, however, if you're willing to take another step. Let me show you how:
1) Go buy yourself a full kit of fine-point Sharpie permanent marking pens (then promptly hide them from your children, especially the 14-year-old texting kind, because these markers are so enticing that they will certainly disappear). Buy both the wide- and thin-tip kind.
2) Decide what type of braided beading thread you'd like to use and buy the crystal or white kind. (I use FireLine, but other people like Wild Fire and Power Pro.)
3) Cut a comfortable length of thread, no more than 4 feet or so.
4) Place the end of the thread on a thick piece of paper on a hard surface. Choose the marker with which you'd like to color the thread and place the tip on top of the thread.
5) While holding the marker in place, pull the short end of the thread until the entire thread is colored.
6) Use a tissue to wipe off any excess ink.
7) Repeat all to thoroughly saturate the thread with ink.
As you work with your new colored thread, the natural oil from your hands might lighten the shade (that's why I said to not go overboard on the length–the less handling the better). Troubleshoot any color loss by re-inking your thread at any time while working. You can also go in and touch up any areas with thin-tip markers, especially the edges of a piece where threads are exposed.
Jean Campbell, Senior editor