Getting Started Beading

Beading is a fun, magical way to reduce stress and explore your creative side - and it requires no special training. 
Put a colorful necklace together or create a beautiful matching set with a bracelet and a pair of earrings. Wear them, sell them or wrap them up and give as gifts. 

Getting started beading is easy and relatively inexpensive. You’ll find beading supplies at most craft stores, art supplies stores and discount stores.

Beading Tools
Here is a checklist of the basic tools you'll need to get started with your new beading hobby. 

Beads
Craft stores, discount stores, even special beading stores all carry an amazing variety of different sizes, shapes, and styles. Start off with a few favorite colors using inexpensive plastic beads so you can become familiar with color coordination and basic beading techniques. This way, mistakes won’t be so costly. Then you can work your way toward the finer glass, semi-precious, hand-painted, wood and cloisonné beads. 

Clasps
Craft stores offer a huge variety of clamps, closures and clasps, also called findings. Again, don’t be seduced into purchasing the best and the brightest in the beginning. Most products will have the instructions included on the front or back of the package, but if you run into a problem, consult a beading magazine or catalog which you can find either online or at craft shops. Inexpensive istruction books, like the one pictured at right, can easily take your skills to the next level with detailed instructions of complicated-looking designs. 

Containers
Depending on your budget and preference, you can either use the standard, flat containers - or go up a notch to the drawer compartments that many people use in their workshops for nuts, bolts and screws. Any containers will do, but, while working, you’ll want your beads to be easily accessible. Storing beads in dark, confined areas makes them more difficult to work with and to color-coordinate. Joann.com sells inexpensive beading containers, storage solutions, and totes inexpensive beading containers, storage solutions and totes specifically for jewelry-making and beading And Joann.com generally offers an online coupon that you can use to get a single item at 40 or 50% off. Momscape.com always posts the current Joann.com coupons are here.

Crimping Beads
These are an important element in bead-making. They are simply beads constructed of a flexible metal. Once the crimping bead is set in place, you'll simply  squeeze it tightly together, which will keep the clasp attached to the necklace. Crimping beads come in gold and silver and in several different sizes. 

Round-Tipped Pliers
Invest in a good pair of round-tipped pliers. You’ll need to use them often not only for picking up the beads but also to hold the components while working with them. Flat-nosed pliers also come in handy. Just  remember to select a pair that will allow you to crimp.

Trays or Boards
Using a beading tray is not mandatory but it makes it easier to pre-select and measure your beads. Most trays are made of plastic and incorporate a measuring device either in inches, millimeters, or both.

Wire, Line or String
Again, depending on budget and preference, there is a wide variety of wire, line and string to choose from. Before purchasing, be sure that it’s the correct size to fit the beads you’ve selected, or vice versa. Some beads have large holes to accommodate thick string while others, such as seed beads have tiny holes that only thread or wire will fit through. You  could even use fishing line to practice on, but beading wire is recommended because it doesn't have a tendency to curl, shrink and distort the way plastic lines do. You can also use string, raw-hide or thread When beading with string or thread, you'll want to use a special big-eye or curved needle.  

Children can also take part in stringing beads. Look for children’s beading supplies at most craft stores, generally found in the same section as adult supplies. It’s a great way to teach children coordination skills and keep them happy and occupied while you are working on your beading projects. Keep in mind, of course, that many of these items should be kept away from babies and small toddlers. Kids ages 5 and up especially love perler beads, which are a great introduction to beading for little fingers. 

For more detailed instructions and free beading patterns, subscribe to a beading magazine where you’ll learn different techniques and methods used by professionals. 
Coupons for discount magazine subscriptions are here.
Magazines for beading enthusiasts include Step by Step Beads (a quarterly publication), Simply Beads, Bead  Style, and Bead & Button,

About.com's Beadwork channel has a great online library of free beading patterns here
 
Once you start beading, you'll naturally start finding all kinds of ways you can use your new skill. Decorate your handbags or create charming wall art. Make lovely bookmarks, sun-catchers, key chains or plant holders.

You’ll be making attractive jewelry in no time,  and you’ll feel such a sense of pride when people begin to compliment you on them. There are so many amazing things you can do with beads, you’ll wonder what ever took you so long to discover them!