The Dangers and Joys of Braided Thread for Beading
A First-Aid Kit for Beaders?
How's this for an idea? Beaders should keep a first-aid kit near their workstation. I am constantly running to the medicine cabinet to get a bandage. You know like when you're trying to get at a particularly tricky place in a piece of wirework and the chain-nose pliers slip and nick the skin on your knuckle? Or you jam a needle underneath your nail? Argh!
My current injury–and I should have learned to avoid this by now–is pinky slashing. You might be prone to this if you do beadwork like me, using the pinky of your dominant hand to provide resistance when you pull the thread tight. I often use braided thread –a.k.a. fishing line–like FireLine and Power Pro. It's really tough thread, so my pinky is usually slashed to bits. Come to think of it, braided thread really shouldn't be allowed on airplanes.
Tips for Using Braided Thread
Braided thread is red-alert dangerous but at the same time quite divine. Supple yet strong; doesn't fray. I love it. Here are a few tips on using it:
- It can be hard to make a clean cut from the spool, but you can do so by slightly opening a pair of Fiskars scissors and pulling the thread over the bottom blade where the blades meet. This works better than actually holding the scissors and cutting the thread with both blades, which frays the end.
- Some braided threads are a total hassle to thread. A needle threader can help, or if you're really having a hard time, use a Big Eye needle. I have luck by pinching the very end of the thread between the fingers of one hand while I place the needle down on the thread, feeding the thread up through the eye at the same time.
- Most braided threads come in clear, smoke, moss, and white. Clear works really well if you're working with crystals or light-colored seed beads. I end up working with smoke a lot because the dark color recedes into the beadwork. The nice thing about white is that you can color it. I learned this trick from another beader: First cut your thread length. Place a piece of cardboard on your work surface with the thread end on top; touch a permanent marker in the color you're aiming for (Sharpies come in a huge array of colors) to the end of the thread and pull the thread through. Instant colored thread.
- Some braided threads have a bit of a greasy residue that can leave black marks on your hands. It probably won't mess up your beadwork, but if it bugs you, just hold a Kleenex or paper towel in one hand while you pull the line through with your other hand. It will take the coating right off.
- Braided thread works well for bead weaving, but you can make strung pieces with it, too. I usually use a 4 to 6 lb weight for my beadworked pieces because it's a little thinner. But you could use a 10 lb or even a 20 lb weight for strung pieces that include really heavy beads.
- You can get braided thread at most bead shops, but you can also pick up some at a sporting-goods store.
Oh, and don't forget to wear a Band-Aid on your pinky.
Editor's Note: Where can you find pink FireLine? Who has the best price? See what other members have been saying on this topic ("Beginner Project: Peyote Stackable Rings") and join in the conversation!–Michelle Mach
Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!