Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to String Pearls and Other Beads on Silk

Making your own jewelry can be very rewarding. With this step-by-step guide you too can create professional looking jewelry with a few simple tools and a few dollars worth of supplies.

Every outfit can have its own adornment by learning this skill. The best way to learn from this article is to read my blog article “Tools and Supplies Needed for Silk Knotted Jewelry” before you start. After you have done this, gather your supplies and take each step at a time.

The first time you knot beads it won't be perfect but that is okay because you will still have a beautiful necklace to show for your efforts. Don't give up. Once you get through one complete necklace you will feel better about your knots and each subsequent necklace will look better than the last.

Note to reader: Very shortly I will be adding photos to this article of each of the steps below.

The Steps:

Step 1

Unwind the silk thread from the card. It is easier to work with if you run the silk through one of the slits on the card to help straighten the bends in the silk. One end of the silk will have a fine wire needle. On the end without the needle, tie a knot at the very end of the silk and a second knot directly on top of the first knot. This will make a bulky knot.

Step 2

Insert the needle end of the silk into the clam shell of the Double Cup. The needle should come out of the hole. The knot should be inside the clam shell part of the double cup. Add a drop of G-S Hypo cement. Close the clam shell with your chain nose pliers. The knot should be securely inside the closed double cup. All the remaining silk with needle should be coming out the hole of the double cup.

Step 3

Tie another knot with the silk as close to the double cup as possible. Use your tweezers to push the knot as close to the double cup as possible.

Step 4

Use the needle end of the silk and string your first pearl moving it all the way to the end near your double cup.

Step 5

If you are right handed follow these directions for knotting. If you are left handed just do the opposite in each hand. Holding the pearl and double cup end in your right hand, wind the silk over the index finger and middle finger of your left hand. With your two fingers spread apart slide the pearl into the silk between your two fingers and pull through the loop.

Step 6

You should have a large loop. Lay the large loop over your pearls, taking your needle nose tweezers pinch the silk down as close to the pearl as possible with the tweezers inside the large loop. Pull the silk so that the knot abuts the pearl. Before the knot is completely tight use the tweezers and move the knot closer to the pearl while pulling the silk. This will make a nice close tight knot.

Step 7

Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until you have used all of your pearls.

Step 8

Adding your final double cup is fairly simple. Take the needle end of the silk and go up through the hole of double cup. The needle and silk should emerge from the clam shell. This is instead of going down into the clam shell like you did to start. Tie a double knot (one on top of each other) using your tweezers for a tight, snug knot inside the clam shell. Add some glue. Snip the end of the silk as close to the knot as possible without touching the knot. Add a little more glue into the clam shell and close with your chain nose pliers.

Step 9

Adding your clasp is the final step. Hook the double cup on one side of the clasp's small ring. After you have done this, with your chain nose pliers curl the hook on the end of the double cup so that it meets itself in a loop. The clasp is now attached to one side of the double cup. Repeat this on the other side and your necklace is finished. Be sure to give your glue a chance to dry completely before you wear your necklace. It is fast drying glue. Ten to fifteens minutes should be sufficient.

Congratulations, you now know how to make a beautiful knotted pearl necklace. This skill with a little practice will serve you well. Be sure to try other types of beads using this method.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tools and Supplies Needed for Silk Knotted Jewelry

Making your own jewelry can be very rewarding. This guide was developed to explain the tools I use to make all of my silk knotted jewelry projects. Understanding the uses of these tools will help you start making beautiful silk knotted jewelry.

Tools Needed:

Needle Nose Tweezers
Cost: approximately $3.00

This tool is useful for knot placement. Most jewelers use a needle to move their knots close to the beads. I find that my method works just as well without the expense of a needle board.

Bead Board
Cost: approximately $4.00

The bead board is helpful for two main purposes. You can lay out your design before you start stringing. This is helpful as you will most certainly want to experiment with your bead placement.

The main purpose is for measuring. The zero at the bottom of the board indicates where your necklace will be centered on your neck. A sixteen inch necklace would take beads up each side starting at the zero to approximately seven and a half inches allowing an inch for your clasp. This is also helpful for pendant or center bead placement. This photo was borrowed from Fire Mountain Gems.

Chain Nose Pliers
Cost: approximately $4.00

This plier is helpful for closing your bead tips. I find that I reach for this plier for almost all of my projects. It is one of my most used tools. Note: Be sure that when you purchase this type of plier that the mouth is smooth or non-serrated. Serrated pliers leave marks on your finished pieces and take away from the quality of your work.

Cost: approximately $2.00

A small scissor is especially helpful for cutting in tight places and close to glued knots. Be sure that when you cut your silk that you have glued the knot first. It is very important not to cut the knot.

Cost: Approximately $5.00-$30.00

I use a five dollar caliper and it works great. Where can you find this item? I found mine at a local hardware store for a couple of dollars. The bead stores sell calipers but they often run over $20.00 and are digital. If you can afford it they are certainly easier to read.

Why the Caliper? Almost all beads are measured in millimeters. It helps to have an understanding about what size your bead is. If you have never used a caliper you will find that it not much different then working with a ruler except that you place your bead inside the mouth. The line indicating the zero at the slide part of the caliper lines up to a hatch mark. That hatch mark indicates the size of your bead in millimeters. This pearl is 7mm as indicated in the picture above.

16" strand of 6 mm pearls
Quantity 1 strand
Cost: Approximately $5.00

Sterling Silver Double Cups
Quantity 2
Cost: Approximately $3.25 for a package of 10 (size .029mm)

Sometimes this finding is called a bead tip. I have even heard it referred to as clam shells. You will need a total of two, one for each end of the necklace. This is what the clasp will be fastened to. The best size for most of my projects is .029mm.

Sterling Silver Pearl Clasp
Quantity 1
Cost: Approximately $3.50 each

Sometimes this clasp is referred to as a Filigree clasp. For a standard silk knotted necklace I find that a clasp with dimensions approximately 20x6.5x3.5mm works great. Other types of smaller clasps are also acceptable.

Griffin #6 white silk thread
Quantity 1 card
Cost: Approximately $3.00

The needle comes attached to the silk. You can easily get two to three necklaces out of one card of silk. Pictured here are both sizes 6 and 8. I use a size 6 for most 6mm bead projects. Note: Size 8 is a thicker silk thread than size 6.

Cost: Approximately $5.00

I use a specific type of adhesive called G-S Hypo Cement for jewelry making. I like it because it is durable, dries fast and clear like super glue. I believe super glue would work well; however, I have never tried it.

Be sure to store your tube of G-S standing up right if possible to avoid leaking. Wiping your tip clean before placing the needing back into the spout. This will keep your glue from sealing at the tip (see the oval picture). If you do this it will last for a very long time.

After you have collected these tools you will be ready to start one on my silk necklace projects.

All the photos used in this article I took myself.