Tips For Successful Bead Stringing Projects

Like a lot of bead-weaving enthusiasts and artists out there, I got started stringing beads before I picked up a needle and thread and started stitching. When I think back on how I got started with bead stringing, I go back and forth between cringing and laughing at myself — I really had no idea what I was doing! With almost no beading tools and no jewelry-making findings like crimps or clasps other than the old spring rings (yikes!), my early bead stringing projects weren't exactly what you would call successful.

Two of my favorite successful "throw 'em together" bead stringing projects.

But even my earliest bead stringing projects had their good points. I loved to experiment with my beads, combining eclectic materials like glass and wood with sterling silver, and I had a strong color sense without really knowing what color theory was all about. And every now and then when I get the urge to do some bead stringing again, I remember those early beading projects and I think about just how far I've come since I started stringing beads on the living room coffee table! (Back then, my entire bead stash fit into one brown paper grocery bag. My, how times have changed!)

So as I sit here at my desk and look at all the beading projects I have lined up for the month of April, I'm reminded of three things that I've learned along the way for successful bead stringing projects:

1. Pay attention to the little things. When I first started stringing beads, I never really paid much attention to things like, oh, proper technique when I was making my beaded jewelry. Seriously — I was the person who would tie knots in her beading wire and then add a drop of glue to the knots, thinking that would be secure. These days, I take a lot of care in every part of making strung beaded jewelry. I let myself splurge on good handmade clasps, high-quality findings like decorative head pins, and beautiful earring findings. Just like in other parts of my life, when I'm making beaded jewelry by stringing beads, I find that when I pay attention to the little things, the bigger things fall into place almost by themselves.

2. Have a plan — or not. Sometimes, the best bead stringing projects come together when I just toss a whole bunch of beads on my bead mat and let them find their ways to each other. I used to subscribe to a few "beads in the mail" type of clubs, and each month, they would send a set of beads in all different shapes, colors, materials, and sizes, along with fun stuff like leather, suede, and chain. For me, the best part was dumping all of these beads out together in a big pile on my mat (yes, I'm one of those "messy beaders"), and trying to figure out how to make them all work together in one piece of beaded jewelry. It's a great exercise in letting go and allowing the beads to just do what they want to do by themselves!

Closeup of artisan clasp by Green Girl Studios

3. Don't be afraid to start over. I used to be one of those beaders who would never, ever, EVER cut apart a finished piece of beaded jewelry, even if it just didn't work at all. I used to revere that finished piece of beaded jewelry as something sacred and untouchable — until the day when I saw this one tired necklace in my jewelry box for what seemed like the five millionth time. That day, something was different. I picked it up, gave it the once-over, and thought, to heck with it, it was time to cut it apart and start fresh. There's something that's very liberating about being able to let go of my attachments to my finished beaded jewelry, and now that I'm not afraid to cut something apart if it's just not working, and I think it's made me into a better designer of beaded jewelry.

If you're looking for year-round inspiration for your bead stringing projects, go no further than Jewelry Stringing magazine. No matter what your taste in bead stringing styles, Jewelry Stringing magazine has you covered! Each issue explores the latest trends in beading and bead stringing through dozens of beading projects. Subscribe to Jewelry Stringing magazine and get four issues full of the best bead stringing projects you'll find anywhere.

Do you ever look back at your first projects made by stringing beads and laugh? What did you  learn from those projects? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your bead stringing learning experiences with us!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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