Bead Soup! What to do?!

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I’m guilty. You’re (probably) guilty. But I’m REALLY guilty. I blame my love for beads – my utter infatuation with them. What am I talking about, you ask? BEAD SOUP is what I’m talking about.

So inevitably, every single time I finish a beading project I have beads left over. Do I put them back? Do I re-organize them back into their little baggies and viles and slots and bins? Of course not! I push them off to the side into a pile and excitedly jump to the next project. Once I finish that project those leftovers get pushed aside, too! (And usually into the last pile) I make BEAD SOUP – all the time. Bead soup – with every sparkly spice there is. My name is Leah, and I have a problem. But the first step is admitting it, right?

Ok, so what’s the best course of action? I could take the time and go through all of them (piles of dozens, sometimes hundreds of beads) and re-sort them but why do that when I can use these beautiful organically-made mixes of crystal, pearl, and glass to make some gorgeous jewelry! Problem solved, it’s a win-win!

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While a jumbled mix of beads in varying shapes, sizes, and materials can be daunting, I’m here to walk you through the steps of a really great casual necklace design that’s perfect for Bead Soup. We’ll utilize a selection from my soup mix along with some fine-gauged wire, leather, and contemporary side-placed Toggle closure!

 

 

MATERIALS / TOOLS

**NOTE** Click any of the images below to see them LARGER!

1.) To start, you’ll have to cut a length of your leather cord. The piece of leather cord will be the back of the necklace heading down towards the front of your neck. Don’t worry too much about determining an exact length as you’ll be able to adjust how long your necklace is when you’re working on the beaded portion later. However, the amount of cord you cut should be around 12″-14″ in length. The beaded portion of your necklace will add the additional length needed/desired to make the necklace fit however you’d like.

2.) Slide the end of your cord through the loop of your Toggle closure LOOP. Bend the cord back to itself and use your wire to tightly wrap and secure. Wrap approx 6-8 times, tightly, and then use your wire cutters to snip off the ends.

 

 

 

3.) Use your chain nose pliers to gently tuck in the 2 ends of the piece of wire. It’s important that no sharp edges of sticking out that may be uncomfortable on your neck. Once you’ve completed these steps with one side of your cord, REPEAT on the other end of your cord EXCEPT do not thread your cord through anything, simply leave it as a cord loop with nothing hanging off of it (see third image below)

 

 

 

4.) Now we’ll be working with your Bead Soup to design the beaded strands of the necklace. My tip for getting started is to pick out some “focal” beads that you want to feature. Place these in front of you – laying out some focal beads for both the top and bottom strand of the necklace. Next, pick a smattering of small beads to fill in between them. **If you’re already starting with a lovely looking Bead Soup, you can’t go wrong with what you pick to go in between your focal beads so sometimes the less you think about it the better. (Check out our Bead Soup video for some extra tips on bead-layout!)

String up the beads for both beaded sections of your necklace to see how they look on your SoftFlex. I recommend cutting a piece of SoftFlex (7-8″ long) and starting your bead stringing in the middle and work your way out from the center. You want the upper strand to be slightly shorter than the bottom strand, so make sure to use about an inch LESS of beads to create this graduated look.

 

 

 

5.) Once you’re happy with what you’ve strung up, we’re now going to attach your beaded strands to the rest of the necklace. Slide on a crimp bead to the end of your wire and then thread on some small beads all together. (In the image below, I’ve used (6) 3mm Fire Polish beads – but any group will do! Their purpose is simply to decoratively cover up the beaded wire loop we’ll be making now.) Now take the end of your SoftFlex and slide it back through your crimp bead. When you pull this tight you’ll have a small beaded loop going through your leather loop. Take your Chain Nose pliers and SQUISH your crimp bead so it holds everything in place. Lastly, slide a few beads from your strand over the tail of wire that’s left.

 

 

 

6.) Now repeat the crimping process on the other side of your SoftFlex, attaching this end to your Toggle Closure BAR. The only difference here is that you won’t be using any small beads to create a beaded loop like you did in the previous step. …So thread on a crimp, thread your wire through the small loop of the toggle closure bar, and then thread your wire back down through your crimp and ALSO the first few beads right after it. Then, PULL so it all tightens up. Lastly, SQUISH your crimp with your Chain Nose Pliers to secure.

 

 

 

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7.) Repeat steps 5 & 6 with the other strand of beads.

 

 

 

8.) Now… You’re ALL DONE!  Enjoy 🙂

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