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What Sort Of Beading Supplies Do You Need To Do Bead Weaving?
Bead weaving is unique in the fact that all the beading supplies needed are a needle, some thread and some beads. Because of this, you can take it with you everywhere. It hardly takes up any space. It weighs close to nothing and you can even watch TV while doing it. It really is the perfect needle work.
However beading takes time and lots of work. You really put a lot of hours in each piece of bead woven jewelry, and it would really be a shame if it was all in wain, because you picked the wrong beading supplies
I almost gave up on my bead weaving because of the beading supplies I bought from the local bead shop. Norway is not well equipped with bead shops, so it is limited what you can get hold of. It was so demotivating and frustrating just to thread the needle. The eye was to small for the thread, the thread frayed constantly and it was impossible to pass the needle through the beads more than once.
Thanks to internet I got hold of some good books about bead weaving, and found the right beading supplies to use. I will introduce them to you here, so that you don't have to be as frustrated as I was.
Lets start with the needles!
This is of course one of the beading supplies that you MUST have. If not your cannot do bead weaving. Most of the beading needles come from Japan or England. The Japanese are stiff, while the English are more flexible and bend when used. Because they bend, they are not so prone to breaking, but will eventually, as they wear thinner and thinner as you use them.
Beading needles come in different sizes. They range from 10 to 16. The higher the number, the thinner the bead. If you wonder what size to use, always choose a needle that has a number one higher than the beads you will use. So for seed beads size 11, you should use a #12 beading needle. For seed beads size 15, you should use a #16 beading needle.
You do of course not have to buy needles of all sizes to be able to bead. I use size 12 and find that they are very suitable for both bigger and smaller beads. However, if you do stitches like Square stitch, where each bead is passed through up to 4 times, it may be wise to use a thinner needle.
You can also use sharps, which are shorter than beading needles, and do not bend that easily.
Don't throw away used needles, unless they break. There are times when it can be handy to have a softer and bent needle, instead of a stiff and straight one.
Storing your needles
I keep my needles in the pack in which they came. It is flat and easy to store. I use one for new ones, and another for used ones. You can also use an empty pen. Just remove the inside and you can store the needles in the empty shell, apply the cap, and you have safe container to store your needles in.
There are also other needles to get for beading, like twisted wire needles, where the eye collapses as it passes through the needle. They are great for stringing beads, but not for piercing fabric.
As for the English needles I use the John James beading needles, and I am very content with them.
So, now you know about needles, let's move on to what types of beading threads there are.
As with close to all beading supplies, there are several beading threads to choose from, and sometimes it can be difficult to know which to use for your project. The most used beading threads are Nymo, Fireline and Silamid, but there are other threads that may be just as usable.
Nymo is a nylon thread that bear similarities with dental floss. It is strong and durable, and is said to be the finest nylon thread in the world today. You can get Nymo on spools and bobbins. The thread on the spools are softer and thinner than the one on the bobbins. This is because spools usually are used with sewing machines. The thread on the bobbins are covered with a some what waxy, sticky adhesive to prevent it from unraveling from the bobbin.
If you want your beading to be a bit stiffer and more durable, use the bobbins. If you want it to be softer, use the spools. Nymo does not easily fray but tangles easily and should therefor be waxed before use.
Nymo comes in different thicknesses from 00 to G, where G is the heaviest and 00 the thinnest. Size 00 to A is suitable when you have to thread through beads several times. Size B up to D is suitable for Bracelets and Necklaces.
You can get the bobbins in several colors. It is advisable, to strengthen the durability of your bead work, to always use double thread when using Nymo.
Nymo is a very good thread to use if you do bead embroidery, as it is soft and easy to handle. Although many do, I do not find it so good with bead weaving, as the bead work does get soft and lack the stiffness I would like some of my projects to have. My experience is also that unless you use double thread, it tears if the bead edges are sharp. That is why I mainly use Fireline when I do bead weaving.
Fireline is an inter knitted thread that has exceptional strength and versatility and is also my favorite thread among the beading supplies. It is UV protected and pre waxed and comes in different strengths from 1LB up to 6LB. Even 6LB is easy to thread so there is no need to choose the thinnest one for that reason. Use the thinnest for seed beads only, or where you plan on threading through each bead several times. It is too weak to hold larger beads as single thread. If you use 6LB, you are safe, no matter what kind of beads you use.
You can get Fireline in crystal and smoke. Both blends nicely into the beading. Fireline is a kind of hybrid between beading thread and cable wires/beading wire. It does not stretch and will not be cut by sharp bead edges like crystal and gemstones. It may in fact be a bit tough to cut with ordinary embroidery scissors, so get a pair of sharp craft scissors if you don't have one.
Fireline is great for many things, because it is so invisible. Use it to create stunning floating necklaces, like the one you can see in this tutorial: Floating Necklace With Pearls
Silamid is a twisted 2-ply waxed nylon thread with supple strength, and was originally made for tailors. It can be a bit harder to thread than Nymo and Fireline, but fits most beading needles. Silamide size A can be a good alternative to Nymo. It is sold on cards and on spools and come in several colors.
Fishing line is a gel-spun polyethylene thread that is very strong, (it is used do haul in big fish, so...) and does not fray. It is too thick to use with a needle though, and is therefor suitable for techniques where you don't need a needle. Making crystal jewelry with Right Angle Weave is often done with fishing line, using both ends of the line, and no needle. Since the fishing line is quite thick, compared with other beading threads, it gives a very stiff result, that cannot be achieved using any other thread.
It works very well with crystals and gemstones, and will not be cut by sharp edges. Since it is so thick, it is not good for knotting. You therefore finish off by passing it through all the beads again and again until you no longer have space to pass it through anymore. You then either just cut the line, or burn it of with a thread burner or lighter.
It comes in different strengths like Fireline, but are in general thicker. You can get it in green or crystal. Fish line is not among the beading supplies you can get from bead shops, but can be bought everywhere you can get fishing supplies.
As the beading enthusiasm grows, so does the beading supply market. Therefor there are several other brands and types of threads you can buy. Here are some of them.
This is a strong, fray resistant, non stretchy thread, that is made especially for the beading industry. Its size is comparable with Nymo B and can be thread through most beading needles. It comes in many colors.
This is a Polymer thread similar to Nymo but much stronger. It comes in many colors and feels like silk. It is suitable for needle size #10 or #12.
C-Lon C = Nymo D
C-Lon AA = Nymo B
SONO is the newest thread on the market for beading supplies and comes from Japan. It is said to be tenacious and strong, yet pliable. Also very good in fray resistance and workability.
Similar to C-Lon and Nymo size D. It needs to be waxed before use. It is more expensive than the other two, and comes in several colors.
Additional beading supplies
There are not many other beading supplies needed for bead weaving, but some additional tools can be good to have, never the less, like:
Most beading threads need to be waxed so that they will not tangle or fray. You can use Beeswax or buy a conditioner especially made for beading thread, like Thread heaven. Use it generously, it really makes your beading easier.
A Speedy stringer is a bowl in which you pour beads. When you spin it, the beads are spun onto your needle. A real time saver if you are going to string a lot of seed beads. You can get one from most beading suppliers.
When you do bead weaving, there are always ends of thread that needs to be fastened. You either make a knot or weave the thread ends into the bead work and then make a knot. Sometimes if you do not burn/melt the end/knot, the knot may come loose. Using a lighter or a match to burn it off, is sometimes very unpredictable, since the flame is so big. The Thread Burner has a small, pointy tip, that enables you to burn of just what you intend, and not other neighboring part of the bead work.
Beading mats prevent your beads to roll all over your work surface. You can get them in different sizes. However, a towel will do the same trick, so don't go overboard to get a beading mat, unless you absolutely want one. I have never used one, nor a towel. I use paint palettes instead. The chambers make it easy to sort the beads, and therefor save you from sorting them after you are done.
Pliers are not among the regular beading supplies, but sometimes it can be difficult to get the needle through the bead, so I will mention them anyway. Use a pair of pliers to pull it through. A pair of chain nose pliers will do the trick for you, but if you don't have one, use what you have.
Bead scoops come in different sizes. They are used to scoop up beads, so that it will be easy to put them back in the container where they belong.
Well, that was it! Try out the different beading supplies, to find which works best for you. You may find that one thread is good for this and another is good for that. Just take care not to have a thread that is not strong enough to hold the size of beads you use. If in doubt, go for the thickest and strongest, and use a pair of pliers to pull the needle through if it gets tight.
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