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Tips to make your beading life easier!

* Why use sharp needles?
* I can't wear those earrings!
* Project Trays on the Cheap
* Getting Those Pesky Beads Back in the Tube!

Note: If you have a beading tip that you would like to add, please send it to <banshee@beadingbanshee.com>. Tips included will be properly attributed and linked whenever possible.

Tip 1: Why use sharp needles?

To quote from Anne Hawley of the Hillsinger Fine Hand Beadwork website: "What good is the point on your needle? It isn't. Cut it off. Beads already have holes. " Sharp needles can pierce your thread and weaken it. While cutting the tips off and filing the end of the needle works, I recently found an even better solution. I found out that John James makes a tapestry-pointed #10 beading needle! I came upon this needle by accident when I ordered a package of #10n "sharps" needles at my local needlework store. They accidentally sent the tapestry pointed needles instead. These needles are perfect for working with Delicas, although they are a bit large for multiple passes through the smaller holes in regular seed beads. Anyone want some brand new sharp beading needles?

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Tip 2: I can't wear those earrings!

I love to make beaded earrings, but found out the hard way that I can't wear anything but sterling silver or at least 14K gold earposts. Unfortunately, I wear gold more often than silver, and after a particularly nasty infection, I found out that even gold-filled earposts are not pure enough for me. I was down-hearted, because the high cost of 14KT earwires and earposts were much too expensive for me to buy every time I made a new pair of earrings.

I finally came up with a solution, which I thought others might be able to use. Instead of finishing my earrings by going through the loop on the ear wire, I finish it with a jump ring or a spring-ring clasp.

The jump ring can be used with any of your favorite post-style earrings. In the picture above, the piece on the left has the post earring attached, while the one on the right shows the jump rings I used to form the chain.

A spring ring clasp works great with earwires. You simply buy a single pair of earwires, and when you want to wear a particular pair of earrings, simple hook the clasp to the ring on the end of the earwire. Using the spring-ring clasp helps keep the loop on the earwire from wearing out, since you don't have to open it each time you want to change earrings. The spring-ring can also be used with a post-style earring if the earrings suits either style.

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Tip 3: Project Trays on the Cheap

I'm afraid I can't attribute this tip correctly. It was posted to a mailing list, and I can't remember who posted it. If you know who it is, let me know so I can give her credit!

This is a great idea for those small projects, or projects where you are using lots of different colors, but don't want to have them sitting out all the time. Start collecting the lids off of Pringles cans or other similarly sized cans with plastic lids. They are a perfect size for holding seed beads for a project, and after you are finished using that color, or when you want to put the beads away, all you have to do is bend the lid in half. The beads will then slide easily into a tube or bag.

You do have to be careful, though, when pouring the beads back into the tube. Make sure you have a good grip on the lid, because if you don't, the lid acts as a springboard, as it snaps back into shape, and your beads go flying everywhere!

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Tip 4: Getting Those Pesky Beads Back in the Tube!

OK, even though I like the plastic lids for small projects, I still prefer my pistol case and ceramic trays for long/larger projects. But I've always hated putting the beads back away when I was finished with them. Most of the scoops on the market don't really work well in the wells of the trays, and so I would spend a lot of time dabbing at the beads with a damp finger, or trying to scoop them up with the lid of the tube, without the beads spilling over into the other colors in the tray.

One day, as I was trying to get some beads back in their tubes, I accidentally spilled some of them onto the foam in the pistol case. A light bulb went off in my head! It is easy to pour the beads onto the foam, and then you can scoop them up easily with the tubes! It works like a charm. I usually hold the ceramic tray at a slight angle with one hand, while I scoop the beads out of the well of the tray with the other. (You don't have to hold the tray at much of an angle, so you can even do this if you have several different colors in the tray.) Then I set the tray aside, pick up my tube, and run it along the beads, pressing slightly into the foam at the same time. The few beads that don't get into the tube are then easy to scoop up with the lid of the tube. Instead of spending 15 minutes trying to put the beads away, it only takes a couple minutes!

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Copyright © 2002 Mary Winters-Meyer
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