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Bead Stringing - Shopping for Materials

The Beginner's Shopping Guide For Basic Bead Stringing

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If you're just learning how to string beads, and don't yet have any tools or supplies, you have a couple of choices.  You can ask for help from someone knowledgeable like at a bead store, or you can do some reading and figure it out for yourself.

Getting Help From a Bead Store

The easiest way to be sure of what you want and need is go to your local bead store.  They often supply tables to string your own creations, have staff on hand to help you out, and have tools to borrow while you're there.  Talk to the staff about what they recommend, have them show you some techniques, and make something while you're there.  This is a great way to learn.

A quick warning: While at the bead shop, do be careful of the bead prices.  Typically these types of stores sell the beads singly and each clasp component has an individual price tag too.  A pretty clasp might run you $5 or $6 (or more), then there's the crimp beads, the jump rings, and at $0.15 or $0.20 for the lower priced beads, and $5 or 10 for the more expensive ones your bill adds up quickly.  If you don't pay attention, you'll spend the afternoon making a necklace, and when they ring it up, you'll realize you owe them $50 or $100!

DIYer Type Beginners

If you're good at following instructions and figuring things out for yourself, you can save yourself some money and create your own toolkit and buy your beads and findings by the package or the strand.  You can find these items at most arts and crafts stores, some fabric stores, and at bead stores of course. 

If you can't find what you need in your local area, there are a tons of online supply sources.  In the United States and Canada, I like Artbeads.com.  They have a beautiful selection of beads and free shipping in the U.S., $1 shipping to Canada. 

Believe it or not, Amazon.com, and your local Walmart (in Canada and the U.S.) are two other good places to try with very reasonable prices, a selection of jewelry making tools, some bead collections, and Amazon.com offers some nice-looking kits too .  Kits are nice because it cuts down on the time you need to spend hunting around for components.  You need to buy tools separately, but most kits have everything else you'll need.

The Beginner's Basic Bead Stringing
"Only What I Need" Toolkit

When you get to the store or start browsing the online catalogues, you might feel overwhelmed with the dizzying array of materials to choose from.  Let's cut through all that.  Here's a basic bead stringing toolkit to get you started.  You won't be as equipped as a professional, but you'll be able to make a pretty decent necklace or bracelet you can be proud to show off.

If you want to make a basic stringing project, here's a basic shopping list:

What You Really Need:

  • Chain-nosed Pliers (ideally 2 pairs, but you can improvise with tweezers in pinch)**
  • Round-nosed Pliers**
  • Crimping Pliers**
  • Flush Cutters
  • Measuring Tape
  • Masking Tape
  • Nylon coated steel cable (tigertail (Acculon) if you can find it, or softflex or beadalon stringing cable size .019")
  • Crimp beads or crimp tubes size 2/0 (pronounced two ought)
  • Clasps (if I had to pick only one type of clasp to buy, I would get a toggle clasp)
  • Beads

**For a guide to buying pliers, click here to go to my article on jewelry pliers for beginners

How to String your Beads

Now that you've done your bead stringing shopping, you'll want to make something!  To get started, try my Basic Bracelet instructions for an easy beginner project.

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