Sunday, 23 June 2013

Finishing Beading Wire with Calottes

Jewellery made with beading wire is held together with crimps, tiny metal tubes (crimp tubes) or rounded tubes (crimp beads). The quickest and easiest way is simply to thread the wire through a crimp, then through a fastener or jump ring and back through the crimp and the first few beads, then squash the crimp with flat nose pliers to grip the wire.

As this doesn't look so pretty, the crimp can be scratchy on the neck, and the wire can poke it's way out from between the beads, there are ways to hide the crimp to give a more professional finish to the jewellery.

One way is to use calottes, or necklace ends, which are a cup shaped finding with a hole in the centre to thread the wire through. This one has a hook which closes around the jump ring or fastener.

You then crimp the wire inside the calotte, leaving a tiny bit of the wire sticking out of the crimp, just enough so that you can see it. Then you know it is well gripped and not caught by just one edge of the crimp. Gently close the cups of the calotte over the crimp.

Close the hook of one calotte over a jump ring, and the hook of the other one over a jump ring and fastener.

Another type of calotte has two loops above the cup,

Use it in the same way, attaching the jump rings through the two loops.

Calottes are best suited to lightish necklaces. Some beaders aren't keen on them, finding them quite weak, but I would say (again!) that there is a quality issue here. Good quality calottes and crimps will hold a necklace or bracelet together for a long time.

If you are new to crimping, it's a good idea to try and tug the wire out of the crimp. If you can't, you'll know it is gripping well.

Next time - using crimp covers.

Have a look at Handmade Monday for a great selection of crafty blogs

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Working with Coloured Beading Wire

The colour of beading wire comes from it's plastic coating. Therefore, a clear wire, the most popular among beaders, looks greyish or silvery as you can see the metal wires inside the plastic. This can be a great design feature, if some wire is showing between the beads.

Beading Wire also comes in a range of colours, many of them with a metallic look, and these can add zing to your jewellery

This is the same design, done with a soft gold colour wire to tone in with the beads.

You can play around with colours of wire and beads to acheive a different look. Here are some earring or pendant drops in purple and blue.

These are my sort of colour, but there are lots of possibilities for including a mix of colours, bright or subtle, in the same piece.

Here is a bridal one in crystal with Pearl Silver wire.

Next time - I'll be staying with beading wire for a while, as there are several different ways to construct a piece of jewellery with it, and I'll cover them over the next few posts.

For more crafty inspiration, have a look at Handmade Monday.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Beading Wire - All you need to know

When I go to bead fairs, I'm frequently asked about beading wire, so I thought it would be useful to write about it.

Beading wire is made from very fine strands of wire, twisted like a rope and coated in plastic, and is most beaders choice for stringing necklaces and bracelets. It can be used for earrings too (more about that next time). There's a huge variety of different strengths and thicknesses available, which is why some explanation is needed!

Basically, there are two things you need to know - strand count, and diameter.

Strand Count

Beading wire is available in different strand counts - 7, 21 and 49 strand are the most common, although 3 and 19 strand are also occasionally available.

7 strand (commonly known as tigertail) is the most economical, but also less strong and less flexible than the higher stranded wires. The images show a cross-section, so you can see how it's constructed.

As the number of strands increases, so does the strength and flexibility, and also the price. 21 strand is made of 3 strands of 7, which is like 3 ropes twisted together. 

49 strand, the strongest and most flexible of them all, is made of 7 strands of 7.


Beading wires are also available in a variety of diameters, from a very fine .0007" up to .024". Therefore, a 7 strand with a diameter of .024" is thicker than a 49 strand with a diameter of .014". But the 49 will still be the stronger and more flexible one.

Choosing your Beading Wire

Because we have such a huge choice, it can be difficult to make your decision. Price is obviously a factor, and 7 strand is a good quality at an economical price. It's the one I'd recommend for beginners, and is fine for everyday, not too heavy, necklaces and bracelets. But if you graduate onto the more expensive wires, you will really notice the difference. For heavy glass, metal or gemstone beads, 49 strand is by far the best. I also like a 21 strand .014" diameter for lightweight beading, as it gives a beautiful drape.


I would advise to always choose a known brand. Flexrite, Accuflex, Beadalon and Acculon are all good quality brands. I have made the mistake of buying a cheap unbranded one, that was just called Tigertail and it's barely good enough to give away, let alone to sell.

I hope that's clearer than mud, and that it's "all you need to know"! If you have any questions, or if I've left something out, post a comment below.

Next time - working with coloured beading wires.

For more crafty blogs, have a look at Handmade Harbour

Monday, 4 February 2013

How to Make Even Sized Loops every time

I'd been making jewellery for many years before I learned this simple trick, and I've been using it ever since. I came across it on the UK Beaders Forum, which is a great resource and discussion area for jewellery makers.

When you have designed your earring and are ready to make the loop, add a measure bead to the headpin. The one shown is 8mm, which I find is the best size. A 6mm measure bead would also work, but it would give a smaller loop.


Cut the wire where it comes out of the 8mm bead.

Remove the measure bead, and you will always have the same length of wire, making your loops the same size each time.

Aren't the simple things in life so often the best!

For instructions and photos on how to make the loops, see this blog post, and if you'd like to look at some creative blogs, have a look at Handmade Harbour


Next time - all you need to know about beading wire.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

How to Make Earrings

Hi, this is my first proper post, and I will explain, in words and photos, how to make loops for earrings.

You will need - your choice of beads, headpins, a pair of earwires, round nose pliers, and pliers to cut metal (nail clippers will also do this job, but they will wear out more quickly!).

First, thread your beads onto the headpin, and cut the headpin so that you have about 1cm of wire above the beads.

With the tip of the round nose pliers, grip the wire where it comes out of the top bead, as close as you can to the beads, and bend it over to an angle of about 45 degrees.

Now grip the top of the wire with the round nose pliers. Any wire that is sticking up out of the pliers will remain straight, so just run your finger along the pliers to make sure that the wire is sitting in the centre of the pliers. You should not be able to feel the tip of the wire.

Rotate the pliers towards the beads, so that the wire curves around them. You need to keep the wire hugging the pliers to form a nice circle. I find it helps to rest the wire on the index finger of my left hand (I am right handed) and hold it in place with my thumb. About half way round, you will need to slacken the pliers and reposition them to continue.


When the tip of the wire meets the start of the loop, your loop is complete. It should be sitting centrally above the beads, and there should be no gap where the wires meet. If not, don't worry, you will perfect this skill with practice.

Your earring will fit onto any standard earwire so long as there is a loop to hang it onto.

Next time - How to make even sized loops every time.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Hi, I'm Celia, and I've been in the world of beading since 1985. I started by making beaded jewellery as a hobby, then as a small business. I started selling beads and jewellery making supplies in about 1995, at my bead shop in a Sheffield suburb for 11 years. I closed the bricks and mortar shop in 2008 to sell online and through bead fairs around the country.

Beading has become much more sophisticated and varied over the years, with so many more beads, threads and findings available for us to use. I'm still learning!

Through this blog, I'm hoping to bring your techniques, information and inspiration for jewellery making and beadwork.