An Introduction to Beading Terminology

By: Robert Thomson


Stringing beads has always been a great pastime for people. It has helped many to reduce the amount of stress of everyday life in a fun and creative way. You can use thousands of different types of beads to create necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets and much more. You can wear your creations, give them as gifts or even sell them to others. Beading is easy to learn and relatively inexpensive as a hobby. You can purchase your beading supplies at almost any craft store, art supply store and at most major retail stores that offer a craft section, as well as online, of course. There are certain tools and terms that you need to know about in order to begin beading as a regular pastime. Here is an introduction to what you'll need to know to begin your new hobby.

Beads - There are thousands of different shapes, sizes, colors and styles of beads that you can choose from. Picking a few of your favorite colors and shapes is a great way to start the process. This is also a good way to become familiar with color coordination and adding different elements to your creations. Mistakes on finished pieces can become costly, especially when you have to start all over. First, you will learn about the beads, with such names as cabochons, Bali beads, acrylics and African trade beads. Then you can work your way up to the finer things, like types of different glass, semi-precious stones, various wood names, cloisonne beads and hand-painted beads.

Clasps - There is a vast array of different kinds of clamps, clasps and closures, also referred to as findings. These are needed to complete your creations as they are what bring the beads together and hold them in place. This can be a tricky part of beading and if you happen to run into an issue, you can always consult a beading catalogue or jump online and look for tips on how to proceed.

Crimping Beads - These types of beads are an important element when it comes to beading. These beads are made from a flexible metal which allows the clasp to stay connected to the piece of jewelry you create. Crimping beads come in silver and gold and also in a variety of different sizes. They are managed (sometimes mangled!) with special crimping tools and pliers.

Containers - Based on the type of budget that you are working with, you can utilize either the flat standard containers or the more expensive drawer compartments to keep all of your beading products handy and separated. Nearly any container will suffice but as you're working you will want the beads to be accessed easily, so try and choose containers that will make it easier for you when making your pieces.

Trays or boards - Using a beading tray is not something that is required when you are beading but it does make it a lot easier when you want to preselect and measure the beads you're using. Trays are usually made of plastic and come with a measuring device either in millimeters, inches or both. Some craftspeople use mats as well, made of pebbled rubber or felt so that things stay put and don't roll.

Tool terms - Be sure and invest in a good pair of round-tipped pliers for your beading. These pliers are needed often for picking up the beads and holding the components while you are working with them. A pair of flat-nosed pliers is also recommended because these pliers help you to crimp things together.

String, wire or line - Again, depending on what you can afford and your personal preference, there are numerous kinds of line, wire and string that you can choose from. Before you make a final decision, you need to make sure that it's going to be the correct size and fit the beads that you have chosen. Since beads come in all different shapes and sizes, some have larger holes in order to accommodate the string, line or wire you choose. If you wish to practice stringing the beads, you can use fishing line to start with but beading wire is always considered best because it won't curl up, shrink or distort the way that plastic lines can.

Wires are known by their size and diameter but there are some type names. For example, tigertails are multi-strands of very fine separate wires.Learning the basic terms and following the basic tips should help you get started down the right path to beading as a hobby. Bead supply outlets will usually send color catalogues by request. These catalogues list hundreds of different types of products associated with beads and are great for learning beading terminology. A great way to stay up to speed on all the beading trends is to become a subscriber to a beading magazine where you will learn all types of different techniques and helpful hints from the professionals that have perfected their own beading methods.

Remember, beading is not limited to necklaces, bracelets and earrings. You will be surprised at how far you can expand your horizons with your beading skills. You will be able to navigate your skills to other great projects, like handbag beading, wall art, key chains, sun-catchers, bookmarks and even plant holders. There are so many great things you can do with beads that it will have you wondering why it took you so long to discover such a great hobby.

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Looking for the best silver beads? Too Cute Beads was founded in 1998 based on one principal- giving everyone the opportunity to create beautiful and unique jewelry at a reasonable price. From the beginning, we followed the principal that we would never carry a product that we ourselves would not wear and love. Since then, we have grown and expanded. Our designs have been featured in some of the top beading magazines.

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