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The String of Things

January 18, 2018

When I started beadweaving, I would spend hours searching and watching videos on YouTube.  The problem was that I didn’t understand some of the terms being used and so my projects turned out less than desirable at times.  For anyone beginning to bead, I hope that this blog series can shed some light on the common materials used in most beadweaving techniques.

Your material list for any project will probably look somewhat like this…
– string
– beading needle
– beads
– clasp
– other findings

…the difference from project to project will be the type, brand, colour etc. So what do you use when?

This entry will look at the different types of strings that you will hear about and provide some suggestions about what to stock your toolbox with.

 


Fireline: Pre-waxed braided beading thread.
I use Fireline for most of my projects because it’s light, durable and doesn’t get knotted up easy.

– Crystal or Fire Smoke are that most common colours.
* The Fire Smoke does come off on your fingers a bit but it doesn’t affect your project.

– 4lb, 6lb or 8lb test are the strengths that fireline can be purchased in.  The 6lb or 8lb are better if you’re using large or heavy beads so since the cost is the same, I usually just stock the 6lb in both colours.

beadsmith-fl06cr50-sm     Black

 


Wildfire: You’ll hear some videos requiring Wildfire string instead of Fireline. Wildfire is thicker and isn’t as sleek but still has its place in beadweaving.  The first time I try a new project I would tend to use the string suggested in the video.

– If I’m using crystal beads or beads with smaller holes, I typically don’t use Wildfire. The coating tends to rub off on sharp edges or against itself when it passes through the same bead multiple times; when the coating’s gone, the thread frays and breaks easily.

–  I usually keep the 10lb because I find it’s the most versatile and I stock both black and white just like with Fireline.

 

WF wht         WF Blk

 


Dandyline: Dandyline is inexpensive and for good reason… it’s not very good to work with. It frays, breaks, and knots WAY to easy.  Wildfire is technically a type of Dandyline thread, but I would avoid it if you want to make anything durable or without frustrating yourself.
I have read that Dandyline is good for stitching beads onto material but I haven’t tried it myself. It feels very much like a thick sewing thread so that makes sense to me.

 


Stretch or Elastic Cord: I haven’t worked much with stretch cord yet, so I can’t really recommend a specific brand but you should be aware of the thickness of the beads you plan on using so you know what thickness of cord to purchase. Make sure to note if you will be passing through a bead more than once because that might change the thickness of cord you need.

Through a bit of practice, I did learn a couple of handy tricks –
1. Use crazy glue on the knot to help hold it together
2. Pull your knot through a bead if you can to hide it.  I usually pull it through while the glue is still a bit tacky so it sticks inside the bead.
I haven’t had a bracelet undo yet!

If anyone has a favourite stretch cord or can add some insight, please leave a comment! I’m always open to learning new things!

 


S-Lon (Superlon): Twisted nylon cord
Superlon is great for Kumihimo, beaded crochet or macrame projects. Micro s-lon also works great for stringing the beads on a wrap bracelet. Because S-lon comes in a variety of colours, you can use it as part of your designed colour scheme – no need to pick a colour that blends in!

The most common S-Lon thicknesses I’ve seen are 0.3mm (micro s-lon) and 0.6mm.

My only trick for S-Lon is to flat iron your threads before beginning your project.  It tangles easy if you don’t, although it is usually easy to undo without worry of fraying the thread.

slon-fine

 


Stringing Wire: Beading wire isn’t used for beadweaving but it is definitely an essential in my beading tool box.  Sometimes simply strung beads can be very elegant.  Stringing wire generally comes in silver colour but I have also found gold and black.

Wire is sold by two different measurements: number of strands and strength

Number of Strands: 7 strand, 19 strand, and 49 strand, 49 strand being the most flexible.  The more flexible the wire is, the less likely it is to kink. Once it kinks, it’s almost impossible to straighten again.  If you’re using more expensive beads and plan on selling your project for a pretty penny, I might suggest investing in the 19 or 49 strand wire.

Strength: There is quite the range of strengths (7 – 90lbs) and diameters (0.010 – 0.36″) that really depend on the project you’re making.  Definitely know an estimate of how much your finished project will weigh and make sure that you choose a thickness that will fit easily through your smallest bead – or finding!

My favourite brand is Flexalon and I stock 49 strand in a 0.014″ diameter.

 


Filling your Toolbox:

  • 6lb Fire Smoke Fireline thread (~15.00 CAD/ea)
  • 6lb Crystal Fireline thread
  • 10lb White Wildfire thread(~12.00 CAD/ea)
  • 10lb Black Wildfire thread
  • Flexalon Stringing Wire (~$10.00 CAD/ea)
  • S-Lon – purchase as specific colours are needed, or wanted (~$5.00-7.00 CAD/ea)

 

Ok – that’s all I have for strings. If you need any clarification or want me to add a specific string you’re wondering about, let me know.  Also, if you have something to add that you think I’ve missed, please feel free to leave a comment.

Keep on beading!

 

Cheers!

Melanie