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Design FAQs

Over the years, our design team has received many, many questions. Some of them are very thought-provoking and interesting and, quite honestly, a few are beyond our range of expertise. The vast majority of questions we get, though, are questions from those of you who are just starting out in the big world of beading. We hear from a lot of people come through who have experimented with a variety of crafts, from ornament-making to paper crafts to knitting and sewing. While they may be skilled in one craft area and may even know a bit about another, there are always questions about what to use when, what you need to get started and a few other, random fun things that only the creative would ask. Here we have compiled some of our favorite questions we have received and provided comprehensive answers in the hopes that we can help many, many more aspiring beaders.

What size beading wire do I use?
The answer to this question is not as easy - or as brief - as one may think. If you are working off a pattern or a project from a website or a magazine, always use what the designer specifies in his or her instructions/materials list. If you are just trying to wing it, here are some general guidelines to follow:
  • Use .015" beading wire when you are stringing beads with small holes, such freshwater pearls and smaller seed beads (Delicas, for example). 19-strand wire also generally works better with these beads because it is a bit lighter weight and softer than 49-strand, but sturdier yet more supple than 7-strand.
  • Use .018" beading wire with your "regular" beads: gemstones, crystals, glass pearls, larger seed beads (size 8/0 and size 6/0, especially). 49-strand wire is best for these applications, but you may also find that you like 19-strand just as well.
  • Anything smaller than a .015" diameter should be reserved for projects where you are incorporating a weave into a beaded design. If you, for example, are creating a right angle weave pearl bracelet, choose a 19-strand .012" wire; it will be the most flexible and should pass through bead holes twice.
It doesn't help to keep multiple sizes on hand for the variety of projects you will be using. As a matter of fact, our designers highly recommend that you keep a .015" and .018" on hand at all times. (You may want to do a 19-strand .015" and a 49-strand .018" if you are just starting out.) Keeping in mind that your beading wire may be exposed in your beaded pieces, you may want to invest in colored wire as well. If you are a person who plans on using a lot of copper in your designs, get a spool of Satin Copper beading wire.

What size crimp bead should I use?
You will almost always use 2mm crimp beads. As stated above, most of the time you will be using .015" and .018" wire in your designs. Both of these call for the use of 2mm crimps. As a matter of fact, the only two times you will use 1mm crimp beads is if you are: a) using very fine wire, such as a .010" or b) making an illusion necklace.

My work never seems secure. It either breaks or my crimp bead falls off. What am I doing wrong?
Without looking at your piece, we can almost automatically guarantee that you are not crimping correctly or that you are using the correct crimping device. As we have already stated, you will most likely be using .015" or .018" wire with a 2mm crimp bead. This means that you will use one of two tools to crimp. You can use the Designer Crimper Tool, which has two different notches to compress your crimp bead into a C-shaped device that holds the wire in place. Or you can use the Magical Crimp Forming Tool, which forms your crimp into a small round bead, giving it a very polished look at the end of your bead work. If you are using the right size wire with the right size crimp with the right tool and you are still having problems, check the pressure you are applying on your crimp when you are finishing your piece.

How do I end beading thread? Do I crimp it?
In a word: NO! Do not - we repeat, DO NOT - crimp your thread! Think of beading thread like the thread that holds the seams of your clothes together; it needs to be handled gently and it needs to be knotted. Beading thread is not, as the name would suggest, used for stringing or beading; instead, it is used primarily for bead weaving. To finish jewelry using this kind of thread, you will need to tie a series of knots to secure your piece or use a thread burner. (NOTE: Monofilament cording like Supplemax is different. It can be used in illusion necklaces and, though it is recommended that you finish it with knots inside clam shell tips, the ends of Supplemax can be crimped.)

How do I finish pieces using Artistic Wire?
Artistic Wire, which is a craft wire, is not the same as beading wire. Beading wire consists of tiny stainless steel strands coated in nylon. It is a soft and flexible yet durable material. Artistic wire is a craft wire that requires tools to bend. Most necklaces you own are made out of beading wire; if your rings were hand-crafted, they would be made out of craft wire. Our design team recommends learning to work with the softer, more flexible beading wire before you begin working with craft wire, just so you get your basic tools, supplies, terminology and techniques down. Once you feel ready to work with harder wire, you will want to watch wire working videos to help you learn how to finish your jewelry by wrapping loops. You will never crimp Artistic Wire; it just wouldn't hold. The technique to finishing it is to create wrapped loops, which takes patience, practice and time.

I am new to jewelry making. What do I need to buy to get started?
Well, there's a question that's hard to answer. If you have been beading for a while, you can hardly even remember all the expenses: the tools you had to buy, the beading wire, the beads, the crimp beads, the findings... You probably stocked up slowly because, if you didn't, you would have been shocked to see the receipt for all the beads, tools and components you bought. Whenever we are posed with the question of what a beader should buy, we always recommend that you start with something you like and build from there. Find a project that inspires you. Watch videos and find a technique you like or that looks doable at your current skill level. Beading projects will almost always come with materials lists, so use those to determine what you need.
Aside from that, here are a few basic things we would recommend buying to get yourself (or any aspiring beader) started:

One of the wonderful things about beading is that there is always something new to learn and explore. It is one of the most gratifying and wonderful parts of our jobs when we get to help someone new discover this craft that we love so much. So, keep on beading and keep on sharing your work, as well as your wisdom - and your questions - with us!
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