When starting a beading project, the focus is usually on the beads you plan to use and the design you plan to create. Especially for beginners, selecting a beading material for a project can be a distant consideration.
String, however, is one of the most important beading supplies you choose for a project. Those beads have to go on something. Selecting a thread that is durable, beautiful, and easy to work with can make the project both easier to accomplish and more beautiful in the end.
There are many different types of strings (and wires and threads) to choose from. However, you can more easily identify the best one for your project by considering some of the following factors.
Every bead you use will have a different width at the opening. Seed beads, for example, can have an opening that is a half a millimeter wide. Larger beads, on the other hand, can have openings that approach 2 millimeters. You need a string that will (1 Fit into the bead opening and (2 Secure the bead snugly onto the beading material.
A good rule of thumb in order to achieve both of these goals is to choose a thread, wire, or string that is as wide as possible while still fitting through your bead hole. For example, a bead with a diameter of .6mm requires a string of about .5mm, while a bead with a diameter of 1.7mm can take a thread or wire with a diameter of about 1.6mm.
Your beads and your string should both come with measurements. Check both to ensure that you can easily use them together. The right string will help you to get your beads snugly into position without too much effort.
Your finished piece of beading should successfully support all of your beads in the desired position. If your beads are too heavy for your string, you may encounter sagging. Weaker string may even break.
To avoid these problems, match the weight of your beads with the strength of your beading material. For example, avoid using thread with stone beads, but embrace a silk thread for pearls or seed beads. The right weight will ensure that your project retains its beautiful shape long after you finish.
Type of Beads
The string you choose should also match the beads you choose. For example, delicate beads like pearls can break easily. They require a thin, delicate string that will not damage them during the construction of the project. Silk is often preferred, because it also matches the pearl beads in quality and is easy to knot in between beads.
On the other hand, certain beads have sharp edges. Hematite, for example, can fray or cut through certain types of beading string over time. To protect your project, you may want to select a durable, non-fraying string or wire.
Practical considerations aside, your thread, along with all of your beading supplies, should match the style of your project. A wraparound bracelet made of copper wire will look much different from a wrap around bracelet made of hemp or nylon. A project where beads are the focus should use a less conspicuous thread, like a monofilament.
The color of the string you use should also depend upon your project. Clear or white works well for projects where you want to hide the thread. Colors like green or yellow or blue, however, can accent or complement your beading palette if you want the thread to add to the overall appeal.
Every type of beading string, wire, or thread has its own degree of elasticity. That is, each will stretch (or not stretch) to a certain degree. Copper wire, for example, is not going to stretch. Elastic, however, will stretch quite a bit.
When choosing a string to add to your beading supplies for a new project, consider how much stretch you want. Simple bracelets or necklaces for children or inexpensive jewelry, for example, may require elastic. Wraparound bracelets, however, may do better with copper wire. You may want a little bit of stretch for knotting in between beads, or you may want rigidity to achieve a certain shape.
Whatever your needs, select a string, wire, or thread that delivers the elasticity you need for your project.
Finally, when choosing a material for your beading project, consider the quality of the project you are undertaking. Expensive beads, like pearls, require a higher quality string than do plastic beads. You wouldn’t use silk for a child’s bracelet, because it is too expensive, but you would never use elastic on expensive beads.
Similarly, consider what the project will be used for. If you are planning to sell it for a few dollars at a craft fair, a less expensive thread might work. If you are creating a custom piece you hope will last for many years, you want to invest in a beading material that will stand the test of time.
Beading projects are more successful when you use the right kind of string. To that end, consider the material you use carefully before adding it to your beading supplies. Consider the size of the beads you will use, the weight of the beads you will use, the type of beads you are using, the style of the project, the elasticity you need, and the overall quality of the project.
Then, stop by Austin Bead Gallery to get the beading supplies you need. We offer a wide range of materials and beads for any project. We offer classes to help you improve your skill, and we can provide guidance when choosing string or beads. A visit will set you up for a more successful, and enjoyable, beading project.