Friday 9 August 2013

Basic Beading: Single Strand Necklace and Earrings

This is a great beginner's project.  With a grown-up on hand to provide little help with the finishing, even pre-teen children can make this necklace.  

If homemade gifts are on your agenda, this would be a fine choice.

Knowing how to make these necklaces has saved me quite a bit of money over the years. 

When I returned to office work I had to provide myself with enough business casual, work appropriate clothing to get through the weeks and the seasons without spending a great deal of money.  Changing accessories helped to add variety to my limited wardrobe, and learning to make simple jewelry allowed me more variety than if I bought it off the rack.  My homemade necklaces cost less than the store-bought stuff too!

I'm a big fan of long, single strand necklaces (6 feet or more) that can be looped two or three or even four times to create the appearance of several different strands of different lengths. There is no fussing with fasteners, and a minimal amount of specialized materials and tools are required to craft them.

To make this necklace, I used:

  • Three 12-inch strands of 8 mm glass "pearls"
  • Three 12-inch strands of 6 mm glass "pearls"
  • 4 crimp beads (I chose glossy black)
  • Seed beads of the same approximate size and colour as the crimp beads
  • Multi-strand beading wire

I also used a sharp pair of scissors to cut the wire,a crimping tool to secure the beading wire in place after the necklace was finished, and a few dabs of E-6000 jewelry and craft adhesive.

I began by placing my beads in small bowls so I would have easy access to them while I worked, without having them roll all over the table.

I strung my beads onto the beading wire while it was still attached to the spool.  Doing so ensures that your beads won't slide off the other end of the wire while you're stringing, and it also eliminates the need to estimate the length of wire you might need to complete the necklace.

I strung a large glass pearl, then a crimp bead, then a small glass pearl, then a crimp bead. 

Once two crimp beads were in place I continued alternating large and small glass beads, with a seed bead in between each of the pearls, until only one large glass pearl remained.  

I finished the strand with that last large pearl, a crimp bead, a small glass pearl and another crimp bead.

When the beads were all strung, I cut the wire from the spool, leaving about 8 inches of extra wire at each end of the strand.

I carefully fed the ends of the wire strand through the beads so that two strands were overlapped inside all of the crimping beads. It's kind of hard to explain, so I made a diagram.  (Please excuse my poor drawing skills.)

I pulled the wire tight so there were no small spaces remaining between any of the beads, then crimped the crimp beads shut to secure the wire in place.  (You can find instructions on how to secure a crimp bead here.)

When the crimp beads had secured the wire, I put a small dab of E600 glue over each one as extra insurance against slippage. (This is purely optional, but I like to do it just in case.)

Because more 6mm beads will fit on a 12-inch strand than 8 mm beads will, I ended up with some of the smaller glass pearls left after I'd finished my necklace, along with quite a number of seed beads. 

I put most of the extra beads away for another project, but set two of the 6 mm glass "pearls" aside to make earrings.

To make the earrings, I also used: 

  • Two black ear wires for the earrings
  • A couple of short pieces of coloured scrapbooking wire (also sometimes described as jewelry making wire, depending upon where you buy it)
  • A pair of round nosed pliers
  • Wire snippers

I began by making a small loop at the end of each piece of coloured wire, to keep the beads from sliding off.  

I  slid the bead onto the wire and made another loop about 1/8 inch above the top of the bead.   

I slid the loop of the pre-made ear wire into the loop I made in the coloured wire, 

and then secured the coloured wire by wrapping it around the space below the loop.  When I'd wrapped it around enough to fill the space, I trimmed off the excess.  

(This process is called making a wrapped loop.  You can find detailed instructions on how to make a wrapped loop here.)

And that's it!  

Easy, wasn't it?  

Go forth and make jewelry.  :^)

Crafter's Notes:
  • The more necklaces you make, the less each one will cost you.  Supplies like beading wire, ear wires, crimp beads, and glue are sold in greater quantities than required for a single project and, of course, things like pliers are purchased once but then used for many years. You'll have to pay to purchase all these things when you prepare for your first project, but they will provide enough material for several additional projects with just a minimal expenditure for additional beads.
  • All of the supplies I used are available from craft stores in my area but beading supplies can also be purchased on line from many different sources.  Just be sure to read the descriptions carefully to ensure that what arrives in the mail is what you actually need to complete your project!
  • Don't overlook dollar stores, scrapbooking stores, and hardware stores as possible sources of beading supplies.  Dollar stores often sell beads and beading wire.  Scrapbooking stores sell coloured wire and cute little charms.  Hardware stores sell copper wire much less expensively than jewelry supply houses or craft stores and you can also find all sorts of neat washers to incorporate into your designs.