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Material and tools preparing for handmade bead jewelry


When working with beads it is possible to achieve very impressive results without needing to invest in a huge range of materials and tools. You can start with a small selection and build up your collection as you develop your skills.
Materials – The thread you select for your chosen project will depend on the size and weight of beads you are using and the techniques you intend to use. Beading wire such as soft flex is strong multi-strand steel cables coated in nylon. You may come across tiger nail, which is also a beading wire, but usually with a lesser number of strands. The higher the number of multi-strand wire the less they are prone to kinking. Both types of wire are best finished with crimps. It is my personal preference is 2x2mm sterling silver crimps for strength, finished with 3mm or 4mm crimp covers.
Synthetic threads are usually worked with needles and are available in different thicknesses, while natural threads such as silk and linen are available in various sizes and colors but do not have the strength of the synthetic versions. Some beading threads are already waxed, but if not, you will need to purchase some beeswax or thread conditioner to enable you to work with them more easily. Metal wire can be obtained in range of finishes, sizes, and hardnesses.
Tools – Round-nosed pliers for making neat loops; Flat, snipe-or chain-nosed pliers for tapered to a flat end for working with wire and attaching findings; Blunt-nosed pliers which is not tapered but useful for attaching large findings; Crimping piers are for finishing with crimps and very useful to neaten wire-wrapped loops; Split-ring pliers are to protect your finger nails when using split rings; Wire cutter is best selected with small ends to get in close to the beading wire you want to cut, although heavy duty cutters are needed when working with memory wire; Hammer and block is great for flattening wire-worked shapes like zigzags for use as connectors; Needles that you need a selection of needles for bead waving or knotting; Tweezers are used for undoing mistakes in knotting or removing knots; Reamer is ideal for smoothing any rough edges around the holes in beads to prevent damage to threading materials.
Shopping for materials, especially semi-precious gemstones and silver, is part of our favorite pastimes. Taking a selection of raw components and shaping them into a statement piece of bead jewelry gives us a real sense of achievement and pride.

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