Beading Supplies

Written by Sarah Provost
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If you're a newcomer to the wonderful world of beadwork, you might be feeling more than a bit confused about which of the many items offered you need to create a basic collection of beading supplies. Can you get along without jump ring pliers? Bead boards? What are findings, crimp beads, spacers and rondelles, and do you really need them?

Simplifying Your Beading Supply Needs

Assuming that your first projects are likely to be strung bead jewelry, the best tip I can give you is to use either elastic thread or memory wire as your stringing material. If you use either of these choices, you won't really need to buy anything else except your beads. Findings, clasps, crimps, caps, and most tools can be helpful or fun for a special project, but they are unnecessary for simple beaded necklaces. However, you will need a wire cutter if you plan on using memory wire. You can cut memory wire with ordinary scissors, but you'll never be able to use the scissors for anything else, so don't use your good sewing shears. You should never use your beading shears or cutters to cut memory wire either as it can damage them.

Elastic thread is just what it sounds like. Since it stretches, you don't need any kind of clasp or finishing beads. Just tie the ends together tightly and you're done. Note that you can't use elastic thread, or memory wire either, for stringing pearls, because they have to have a knot between each bead to keep them from rubbing together. But if you're just starting out, I'd encourage you to practice with something less expensive than pearls anyway. The most common stringing material for bracelets and necklaces is a 49-strand flexible wire.

Memory wire is a hardened stainless steel wire that comes formed in necklace, ring, or bracelet and anklet sizes. It returns to its original shape after being straightened, and simply wraps around your neck, wrist or finger. Therefore it too can do without clasps. Simply form small loops at the ends to keep the beads from falling off. A pair of needle-nosed pliers is helpful for forming the loops, but you should wrap the ends in masking tape to avoid scratching the wire.

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