Whether beading and jewelry-making is a new hobby for you, or you’re already an experienced beader, there are a number of essential items that should have a home in every beader’s toolkit. The main item of course is beads and no doubt you’ll have a good stock of these already!
Collecting a variety of beads has to be the most fun part of your jewelry-making adventure. There are so many colors and types of beads to choose from, including dyed jade beads, glass and resin beads, gemstones, metal beads, seed beads and much more.
Aside from beads though, here are some other important items that you should keep handy for your next jewelry-making project:
1. Hand-held Tools
The main tools that are very useful for beading and jewelry-making in general are round-nose pliers, flat-nose pliers and wire cutters. Round-nose pliers are great for making loops in wire or in headpins – for example to connect an earring component to an earwire.
1 – wire cutter, 2 – flat-nose pliers, 3 – round-nose pliers
Flat-nose pliers are often used for flattening crimp beads and tiny bead connectors to secure them into place once they are strung onto wire to complete a beading project. Wire cutters can be used for cutting off strips of wire or chain and shortening headpins. These tools are often available as a pack of three and will make for a valuable addition to your beading kit!
2. Wire, Cord and Thread
There are many types of bead-stringing materials that you could add to your kit, depending on what type of jewelry items you enjoy making. Stretch Magic is a type of elasticated string which is also transparent and this is useful for making stretch bracelets for example. This is also a good material to use if you’re making a bracelet for a child, because it will expand to fit their wrist nicely.
Leather cord is useful when making heavier projects as it’s very strong and durable. You can buy wire in a range of different gauges and the thinner the gauge, the easier the wire will be to flex and bend. If you like working with wire, heavy gauge wire can be twisted into shape and hammered to create some amazing jewelry pieces. If beadwork is your passion, you might want to include a range of beading threads such as Nymo (and beading needles) as part of your beading kit.
3. Bead Findings
Findings are the “sundries” of the jewelry-making and beading world. From spacer beads, bails and bead caps, right through to connectors, clasps and earwires, jewelry-making findings are the necessities that you’ll need in your kit in order to piece your projects together.
You won’t need every single type of finding imaginable but having a good range in your kit to start with will not only give you inspiration, it will mean that you won’t have to dash out to your local craft store when you really want to be getting on with your project!
4. Bead Storage
To keep your beads and equipment tidy, there are many bead storage systems available. Most are in the form of compartment trays and you can find versions that stack on top of each other. These are particularly useful if you have plenty of beads to store.
If you have seed beads within your beading kit, it’s worth keeping these in their original containers. Seed beads are extremely tiny beads and if they get mixed up with another size, it can be difficult to tell them apart. Not only that, it can be a tedious task to separate them once they are mixed in with another batch!
5. Bead Board
A bead board is a handy piece of equipment that you can use for planning the design of your jewelry project before you make it. The indents in a bead board are there for you to lay your beads exactly where you want them and this is helpful when you want to see if your jewelry design will work well before you start making it. There are measurements around the outside so you can ensure your jewelry piece will be made to the correct length.
What can’t you bead without? Let us know in the comments!