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What is Bead Stringing?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bead stringing simply refers to the craft of placing beads on a string. The term is sometimes used to mean beaded jewelery making in general, but its reference is usually to the creation of a necklace or bracelet by placing beads, through their center holes, onto string, wire, fish line or other string-like material. Even very small children can place large-holed beads onto a piece of yarn to create a bead stringing project. At its most intricate, stringing beads may be done with the tiniest glass seed bead and super-fine beading thread to create all types of jewelry, such as delicate drop earrings.

When placing very small beads onto thin beading thread, a needle may be used rather than the fingers alone. This method of bead stringing allows the crafter to place several tiny beads on the needle at once by sort of scooping them up through the small center holes. Beading needles are not only extremely thin, but also flexible. A regular sewing needle is too wide and solid for stringing tiny glass seed beads onto thread.

For larger beads, a beading needle isn't required unless it will help speed the process. Bead stringing can sometimes get monotonous as well as cause aching of the thumb and forefinger used to hold and place the beads on the string or wire. All different kinds of beads may be used for stringing. A string of beads may be all one type, such as imitation pearls, or they may be varied so much that each bead is different.

Bead stringing techniques range from just placing each bead in a straight row to twisting the thread or wire and adding more beads to create unique beaded shapes. For example, a popular way to create Christmas ornaments using wire and plastic faceted beads is to form them into a shape such as a tree, candy cane or star. The beads are strung on one side or section such as the bottom part of a tree branch before the wire is twisted to hold them on. Next, more beads can be added to finish the top section of the tree branch with the technique repeated until the ornament is complete and the two open wires can be twisted closed.

Bead stringing patterns may be made up by the crafter, found for free on some Internet beading sites or purchased online or offline from craft stores. Those interested in learning bead stringing should begin with the basic technique of placing beads on a straight thread, wire or length of fishing line. Even such a simple stringing technique can look stunning if beautiful beads are chosen for the project. A fun beginner's string beading project for a bracelet takes only minutes if a length of elastic thread and enough beads are used. The elastic thread should first be knotted before the beads are place onto it to cover it; the finishing touch is just a matter of tying the ends together.

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