Beadwork: Tips and Supplies

Here is a link to a website that offers diagrams on how to begin beading.

And here are tips to begin the journey…

Disclaimer: Many artists have different preferences for things such as materials and techniques. These are mine, but if you know someone who does it differently, that is equally valid.

1. A simple design on printer paper, drawn or printed from the computer. You don’t want to start with anything too difficult, such as a realistic animal or a photograph of flowers on your first piece. You need something with easy lines that is small enough for you to hold without having to bend the design too much. My first beadwork was a medicine wheel. Tip: If you really must bead an animal for your first beadwork, try googling “eagle clip art” or something to that effect so you get simpler lines.

2. A spirit of patience: It won’t be perfect on your first try, and you will have to invest a lot of time in your piece. However, over the months and years as you continue to bead, your lines will become more fluid, and you’ll be able to bead much more quickly.

3. Czech seed beads: These are the most high quality beads. You can always use other beads, but if you’re spending multiple hours crafting a piece that will be passed onto your great-grandchildren, you will want to use the best crafts. A ream of beads normally costs less than ten dollars.

4. Small needles: I use size 13-15 for beading, and leather needles for later in the project when I’m sewing my finished beadwork onto leather.

5. Nylon thread: This special thread can be purchased at specialty beadwork stores or online, same as the needles and beads.

6. Scissors: You’ll be threading a lot of needles, as well as tying them off. It’s good to have a pair of scissors nearby.

7. Desk Lamp: Threading all those tiny needles isn’t easy if you’re squinting your eyes. It’s also helpful to have really good light.

8. Burlap-like material: You will take your printed-off design, cut around one to two inches around it, and sew it onto a burlap-like fabric, which can be found at Ben Franklin or other craft supply stores.

9. Small Pliers: Sometimes you put a bead somewhere you didn’t mean to, or you find that something you’ve done doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the piece. That’s where pliers come in handy. I usually only use them one or two times per piece I create, or sometimes not at all. It’s helpful to have, though, just in case.

10. Elmer’s glue, paper bag, and iron: Once you finish your piece, you will put Elmer’s glue all over the back of your beadwork. This secures the threads. Then put a cut out piece of a brown paper bag on the back of your beadwork. Turn the beadwork over, so the beads face the table, and then iron the back of the beadwork. All at once, you will see your beads look exactly as they were meant to look. When you behold your creation, it will be worth the countless long nights.

11. Metal hair clips: You can buy these for a few dollars. They should be plain. I use the Goody brand, but any will do. Sew one onto your beadwork before putting leather on the back of it. You should tack down each side around six times.

12. Leather: You will sew your design onto leather if you’re making a hair clip, bracelet, or necklace. If you intend to sew it as a patch on a jacket, you won’t need leather. Many people cut the leather to their beadwork. Then, they use one or two needles to line the piece with each stitch as they sew the beadwork into the leather.

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