Making Beaded Jewelry – Part IV
by Bina Shaji Kurup
A mind boggling range of cords, threads and wires are to be had for the creative beader – bright colors, braids, thin, thick, natural, synthetic and much more – making a choice is not easy. Some of the popular options in synthetic cords are listed below to make it easier
Threading Options II
Polyester Cord: The polyester cord is strong but prone to fraying. Although, pre-waxed the wax tends to come out while beading, making it slightly difficult to thread through the beads. Available in many sizes, the polyester cord can be used with even small size beads and larger metal beads as well.
Elasticity in the threading material makes it easy to create the jewellery, just string in the beads, tie up the two ends and voila the necklace or bracelet is ready for use. Made popular by designers who have created jewellery, especially bracelets, anklets, armbands etc, to fit everyone which is the main advantage of Elastic cord – the ornament can stretch to fit anyone! The beaded piece also becomes multi-functional – for eg. an anklet can also become a bracelet since the cord stretches. Elastic cord can be cut by sharp edges and will also loose its elasticity over time so it is not a good choice for beads with sharp edges. Elastic cord is sold in many colors and sizes and it does not fray which makes beading easy. Unlike other materials this does not require clasps, hooks etc at the ends making is a great option for quick to make beaded jewellery. Some of the brand names it is sold under is Stretchalon, Stretch Magic etc.
A steel elastic option, sold under several brand names. Just like the elastic cord, the memory wire remembers its shape and size hence the name. This product is very strong and special pliers are required to cut it. Unlike regular cords, Memory wire is not sold in spools but is sold as continuous loops in several sizes. It takes the shape and size of the wearer due its elastic nature making it easy to create pretty beaded jewellery – even by children.
If your design has the appearance of beads strung together without any visible cord, almost floating around your neck or ear or wrist then choose the Illusion cord. This monofilament or nylon cord is transparent and has a slight elasticity to it. Making knots is difficult and many beaders use tiny crimps to ensure beads stay in one place. Unlike a Memory wire, it is preferred, that Illusion cord jewellery be tied together with clasps at both ends.
A cheaper alternative to natural silk threads is Nylon. It is stronger than silk and does not stretch as silk does, but it does get cut when used with beads with sharp edges. Also called Nymo, this product is composed of several strands of monofilaments giving it a tendency to fray. Waxing it will reduce the fraying and pre-waxed nymo is also available. Easy to knot, the thinner sizes of Nymo can be used to string pearls, heishi and other lightweight beads, heavy beads are not suitable to this cord. A similar cording material with some modifications, called C-Lon has been also been launched.
Bonded Nylon Threads
Another version of Nymo are the Bonded Nylon threads – stronger, more resistant to fraying and abrasion. Even gemstones can be strung on Bonded Nylon without the fear of the cord breaking. Both Nymo and Bonded Nylon are available in a range of colors and need a needle for easy beading. Silamide, which is waxed nylon twisted thread. It is quite strong and flexible.
Yet another option for beaders is a heavy, strong, braided thread sold as Power Pro / Fire Line and other brand names. The waxed braid ensures minimal fraying and it can be threaded through a needle for easy beading. Even beads with sharp edges like gemstones, metal beads etc cannot easily cut into this cord. This material is a great option for pieces where the threading material is hidden from the outside view especially since it is not available in too many colors. Easy to knot, with a minimal stretch, necklaces created with this thread look great.
The flexible nylon coated cords range from thin cords with just 5 or 7 strands up to more than 49 strands. Coated and non-coated versions are widely available under brands called Tigertail, Softflex, Beadalon, Accuflex etc. It is a stiffer threading option and does not hold knots well, crimps are normally used to keep the beads in place. The main advantage of these cords is its strength and resistance to fraying. Some of these are coated with real gold or silver.
Craft wire is not recommended for important beading projects since it cuts very easily and is mostly used in amateur crafting projects.
Copper, German Silver wires have also caught the fancy of jewellery designers. The technological advances in making threading material is so advanced, it is difficult to guess which cord is actually a wire and which one is a natural thread. Only after the thread is used to make the jewellery, will the differences between each of the various threading options be visible.
The interested beader can choose from the exciting array of varied threading options.