One of the best therapies in life is being creative. Producing something original and being able to admire the outcome is extremely satisfying. I’ve found that beaded jewellery gives you the opportunity to unleash your creativity by combining fashion and art and it is an entertaining hobby as well!
Types of bead:
There is a vast variety of beads in all different shapes and sizes. The most common ones that are available in bead shops are pearls, plastic beads, glass beads, seed beads, Swarovski crystals and metal beads. You can use your imagination and combine any of these beads together to create interesting and unusual pieces of jewellery.
Tools and materials:
It is imperative to choose good quality materials as they play a significant part in adding to the overall appearance of your items. Any bead shop will stock these components:
• Wire cutters, round nose pliers and flat nose pliers are the basic tools needed.
• Bead boxes with dividers ensure that your beads are kept neatly and that you can work in an organised way.
• Chain, elastic or cord can be used to make bracelets and necklaces.
• Headpins. These are pins used to thread beads through and have flat ends. They’re available in different colours and lengths and are most often used for making earrings and for connecting beads to chains.
• Spacers. Small metal beads used for separating larger beads and used as decorative elements.
• Jump rings. Used for connecting different parts of a piece of jewellery. They are able to bend open and closed and vary in size and thickness.
• Crimp beads. Used to stop beads from falling out by pressing them down with your pliers.
• Earring hooks. Available in different styles.
• Lobster clasps. Most frequently used as its spring action makes it easy to open and close. Other clasps that can be used are magnetic clasps and toggle clasps.
• Crimp ends. Attached at the end of cord/elastic to hold it together.
• Making eyelets on headpins:
Thread the beads onto the headpins and, using round nose pliers, bend the pin at a 90 degree angle to form a circle and cut off the excess pin with the wire cutters.
• Opening and closing a jump ring:
Grip the ring tightly with flat nose pliers and open by bending one end to the front and the other to the back. Insert your bead through the ring and close again but be careful not to distort the shape of the ring.
• Attaching clasps:
Double up the cord or string and thread it through the hole of the clasp. Pull the knot tight.
If you are a first time beader, I would recommend that you visit a beading shop as most of them offer practical lessons on how to get started. It would also be a good idea to check beading websites or watch online tutorials to help you get the hang of it. Beading magazines and guides are also useful as they give you creative jewellery design ideas.
The best thing about beaded jewellery is that it is unique. I’ve had people come up to me and ask about a piece I’ve made that I was wearing and that gave me the idea to start selling the jewellery. Package them in pretty boxes and you’ll have one of a kind pieces that people will want to buy.
Rafeeah Laher is a freelance writer from South Africa who enjoys writing about diverse topics. You can follow her on twitter: @Rafeeah_L.