Do you remember the popularity of “love beads” in the late 1960s and ‘70’s? Everyone wore bead earrings, wrist and ankle bracelets, and of course, several strands of long bead necklaces that swayed and rattled out their message of peace and love with every movement the wearer made. Well, beads are back! If you’re looking for a hobby that brings out your creative flair, reduces stress and results in fun creations that you can wear yourself, give to relatives and friends, or even to sell for extra cash, stringing beads is the hobby for you.
Not only is basic beading and polymer clay jewelry making easy and fun, but it doesn’t cost much to get started. A wide variety of beading supplies are readily available at crafts and art supplies stores, discount stores and specialty bead boutiques that carry both basic beads and the more expensive beads that are often used by professional beaders. Many beading supply warehoused will mail free color catalogs to you, upon request. A search for “beading supplies” on the Internet will give you many great resources for what you need to get started beading.
To get started on beading, you will need a few basic tools and supplies. Here is a checklist of what you will need:
Beads: The beautiful fancy beads, made from glass, wood, semi-precious gemstones, hand-painted and cloisonné are so very tempting for beaders at any skill level. However, mistakes made while using finer beads like handmade glass beads can be costly. Avoid unnecessary expenses by starting with simple plastic beads. They come in many different shapes, colors, sizes and styles. Start off with plastic beads in a few of your favorite colors. Jewelry made from inexpensive pony beads are a great hit with children and teens. Experimenting with your beads will teach you color coordination and how to apply the finishing touches. After you become more skilled, you will be able to work with those tempting fancy beads.
Clasps: “Findings” is another name for jewelry clasps, clamps and closures, and can be purchased at most stores that sell beading supplies, both off- and online. There is a wide variety from which to choose, and beginners should start with the less expensive findings. Most findings products have instructions on the package, but, again, advice can be found in beading catalogs or magazines sold online or in crafts stores.
Crimping Beads: Crimping beads are made of flexible metal that are clamped shut to help keep clasps attached to jewelry. An essential to beaded jewelry projects, crimping beads are gold or silver and are available in different sizes.
Tools: Purchasing the right tools for your beading is a must! At the most basic, you will need round-nosed pliers that can be used for crimping. If you can afford it, add smooth edged needle-nosed pliers, a bead crimper, light wire cutter, wire straightener and jewelers tweezers. These tools are not required, but they do make stringing beads easier. Before making a purchase, choose the size and style of tools that best fit your hand, and make sure that your hands are strong enough to easily use the tools.
Beading Boards: Beading boards make pre-selecting and measuring beads and working with multiple strands much easier. Most beading boards are made of plastic and are equipped with a device that measures in inches, millimeters, or both. Although any segmented plastic tray can be used, a beading board is highly recommended.
Stringing Materials: These come in a variety of sizes and types. Beading strings are made of silk, nylon, leather cord and coated wire, just to name a few. Fishing line (mono-filaments) is less expensive than many other kinds of string, but beginners may want to use flexible wire. It is easier to use, and doesn’t shrink, stretch or curl. Working with thread requires special large-eye or curved needles made for beading, and can be found in most stores that sell beading supplies.
Beading is a hobby that is enjoyed by people of all ages and sizes. Making beaded jewelry and accessories is a good hobby for the elderly. Using the appropriate tools can aid in improved grip and hand coordination, while magnifiers make small parts easier to see. Children love stringing beads and it will keep them occupied while you work. Allowing your children to work alongside you is not only fun, but is one way to spend quality time together. Beading supplies for children can be found alongside those for adults. Be sure to check package labels for recommended user ages; many beading supplies should be kept away from babies and toddlers.
Beading pattern books and magazines can be purchased at craft stores or online. Free patterns can be found on the Internet, on beading forums, message boards and pattern sharing web sites. You will also find tutorials and help with new techniques on these sites, as well as tips and tricks for using tools more efficiently.
Beading is a hobby that will provide you with hours of fun while creating beautiful jewelry and other items that you and your family will love. You can bead clothing and handbags, make amazing wall hangings, curtains, sun catchers, plant holders, and even key chains and bookmarks! Do extra projects and sell them for supplemental income, as so many beaders have done. Beading is a great way to have fun, relieve stress, make a little money, by just staying home with your family and doing what you love. Once you are on your way, guaranteed that it won’t be long before you turn your jewelry making into a profitable hobby.