Back to Basics: Thread & Wire!

Hey Beady Friends! In today’s blog I wanted to go over for you some key supplies in the realm of “Thread & Wire.” Whether you’re new to jewelry making and beading weaving, you’ve specialized in one over the other, or you just want a refresher – this will be the blog to bookmark, especially if you’re looking for an approach that won’t be overwhelming! We’ll be talking about five different categories here: Beading Thread, Flexible Beading Wire, Artistic Wire, Precious Metal Wire, and Memory Wire. Let’s jump right on into it!

BEADING THREAD

First, for you Bead Weavers out there (or those who want to delve into bead weaving), let’s talk about beading thread. More specifically, let’s talk FireLine beading thread, which is my personal favorite and what I always recommend based on my experience. FireLine Braided Beading Thread comes in a few different neutral-type colors, but the most popular ones are “Smoke” (a medium grey) and “Crystal” a translucent white. I always make sure to keep a supply of both in my arsenal. Smoke blends in nicely with a good 50-75% of color choices, in my humble opinion, and Crystal picks up the slack when the Smoke simply gets a little too dark for the lighter or more transparent beads you might want to use. TIP: Keep a stash of Sharpie markers in your beading studio – you can easily color your Crystal Fireline to match your beads with the rainbow of options available in permanent markers!

As far as weights, Fireline comes in a variety of weights. They all have their uses, and I know Beaders who each swear by a different weight as their go-to, but my personal favorite is the 6 pound weight.  If you’re not familiar with FireLine, I recommend his weight as a good starting point so you can then further determine your beading needs. If you’re following a pattern, it’s often quite important to stick with the poundage they recommend for the project, but I find that 6 lb. gives you the most room to improvise.

TIP: Do you find you have a tough time threading FireLine through the eye of your beading needle? Here are two tried and true tricks that have always helped me: First, don’t “thread your needle” and instead, “needle your thread!” In other words, rather than trying to stick the FireLine through the eye, let just the smallest bit of FireLine stick up from your fingertips and press the eye of the needle down onto the end of the FireLine . Another tip is to flatten the end of your FireLine between a pair of chain nose pliers. Simply grab the very tip of the FireLine inside the jaws of the pliers, press down, and give a little tug – sliding the FireLine out. You may find this trick helps tremendously!

You may want to wax your FireLine! (“Wax, you say??”) Some Beaders do this, some don’t – I do, about 75% of the time. Waxing your thread (with a synthetic beader’s wax or a 100% pure bees wax) really helps with creating tighter tension, when you want it that is. Waxing also helps to keep your thread tail (that’s pulled through the eye of your needle) stuck to your working thread, thus lowering the chance of tangles and knots!

FLEXIBLE BEADING WIRE

Next, let’s talk bead stringing! For this, Soft Flex beading wire is my go-to. Depending on the thickness, it contains a varying number of fine stainless-steel wires all laid out together and then coated in nylon. Soft Flex is an industry leader in quality and durability, all the while maintaining a suppleness that lends itself to wearing delicately on the figure. It comes in various colors, but the most popular are neutral colors like Satin Silver, White, and Bronze. Soft Flex beading wire also comes in a variety of thicknesses. First, let’s start with my go-to thickness: Soft Flex 21-strand “Fine” diameter.

This diameter of wire is that one that I find to be the most useful and versatile and its the thickness I’d recommend first and foremost to anyone looking to give Soft Flex a try. It pairs perfectly with 2mm Crimp Tube to hold it best in place. (check them out here in gold, silver, and copper!)

This SUPER STRONG diameter can even fit through the very tiny 2mm faceted gemstone beads! That being said, another option for such teeny tiny lovelies if you want a much more supple drape is Soft Flex Soft Touch in “Very Fine”. It’s important to note, however, that different crimp tubes must be used and you’ll want to make sure you have 1mm or 1.5mm Crimp Tube beads on hand for this diameter. If you’re never worked with something like Soft Flex before, or crimp beads, you’ll want to make sure that you have the proper tools for cutting and crimping. A Flex Wire cutter is the best way to cut your flexible beading wire because you’ll get a nice clean edge that will make stringing your beads much easier. For squishing those crimps, you’ll need either standard Crimping Pliers or Micro Crimping Pliers, depending on the size crimps you’re using.

Tip: Make sure not to use your regular side wire cutters, meant for hard wire, to cut your Soft Flex as the stainless steel inside will dull your cutters over time. Flex Wire cutters also shouldn’t be used to cut head pins, as it will result in flattened rougher cuts on your Soft Flex which can make stringing smaller beads more difficult. In other words: use the right tool for the right purpose! 🙂

Not sure how to “crimp” and best utilize this type of beading wire for long-lasting stringing projects? Check out my video on the Eureka Crystal Beads YouTube channel to see these techniques demonstrated!

ARTISTIC WIRE

Artistic wire is a nickel-free and tarnish-resistant plated round craft wire. It’s very soft, as far as how hard or soft a wire can be to bend, which makes it a great choice for all sorts of wire crafts because it’s pretty easy on the hands! It comes in many different gauges (thicknesses) but my favorite to work with is 26 gauge. I like 26 gauge for the craft wire projects that I like most: creating fun hair accessories! We carry it in both gold plated and silver plated, and the coatings are nice and bright, with the silver nicely mimicking a sterling silver look – not a dull grey, like some other craft wires can be.

If you want to learn some neat projects for this inexpensive wire, you can take a look at some of the fun videos we have up on the Eureka Crystal Beads YouTube channel! Learn how to make a dazzling beaded headband, various simple and complex beaded hair pins, and bobby pins, all encrusted with Swarovski crystal and utilizing this versatile craft wire!

PRECIOUS METAL WIRE

My favorite of wires to use! I simply love knowing that I’m pairing my semi-precious gemstones and freshwater pearls with wire of truly the same caliber. Precious metal wire is made of just that – precious metals – or at least a percentage of precious metal.

I always have a collection in my jeweler’s box of various thickness, hardness’s, and shapes of wire – but my favorites are the ones that are most versatile – 24 gauge half-hard round wire (in both sterling silver and 14 karat gold filled) is a great starter gauge to play with. It will fit through most bead holes and it’s not too hard on the hands to wrap with! Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. (Have you ever noticed “925” stamped on your sterling silver jewelry? This is where it comes from!) It’s actually the 7.5% copper that’s tarnishing (not the silver!) when your jewelry looks less than lustrous. All it needs is a good rub with a polishing cloth. Sunshine polishing cloths are my favorite for this. 14 karat gold-filled wire is similar to gold-plated wire only the “plating” is much much thicker, and therefore a higher content of gold in your product. I love 14 karat gold-filled for a soft gold look that I don’t have to worry about rubbing off.

Have you never worked with wire before? Check out my video on making Vintage Inspired Wire Wrapped Earrings or this Simply Sweet Lariat design!

MEMORY WIRE

Memory Wire is a great way to introduce yourself to jewelry making. The concept is so easy: You simply turn a loop at one end, slide on all your beads, and turn a loop on the other end to hold all your beads in place. You can bead up as many coils as you’d like to make your bracelet wrap around your wrist for a great layered look. As if it couldn’t get any easier, there’s no clasp – you simply wrap it around your wrist, easy peasy! The neat thing about memory wire is that you can make the designs more complicated than you might think! You can use dangles, thread the next coil through the second hole of a previously strung 2-hole bead, and use almost any bead size and shape you want to get an array of amazing looks! It’s IMPORTANT to note that Memory Wire requires a special kind of tool to cut it. If you were to use your regular Side Wire Cutters to cut Memory Wire, you’ll simply destroy them! A Memory Wire Cutter is a good investment if you want to make piles and piles of these fun and easy bracelets.

Check out these 2 blog posts of mine for a couple of cool Memory Wire projects! Use a lovely coordinated bead mix to make a bracelet that whips up nice and quick! …Or, try this one, which uses IrisDuo 2-hole Czech Glass Beads for a more complicated design!

I hope you found this blog helpful, regardless of your skill level as a jewelry crafts-person! Perhaps you learned about a new product or simply picked up a great new tip that was “worth the price of admission!” Make sure to follow Eureka Crystal Beads on social media to always know what’s coming down the pipeline: new products, projects, and sales!

Until next time beady friends….

-Leah

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