Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tips: Best Ways of Loading Beads onto Cords

I get several emails a week asking me for the best way to load beads onto nylon bonded cord such as the C-Lon Cords or Nylon #18.

Here are some suggestions:
  • Big eye needles
  • Tapestry Needles or Beading Needles preferably with blunt ends such as bead Embroidery Needles - Size depending on the cord and beads sizes
  • Collapsible needles such as a Griffin needles
  • Threaders such as fine cord to pull your cord through. For example using C-Lon Micro Cord to pull through C-Lon Bead Cord. You can also use a needle attached to the threader or make a self needle with the threader.
  • Self needles using Fray Check by dipping or rubbing some Fray Check onto the end of the cord. Let dry overnight or at least for a few hours. Cut the cord at an angle and use it as a needle. Re-cut at needed.
  • Self needles with beeswax. Shred the cord with the blade of a scissor or a razor blade. Wax it. Shred it again and wax it until you get a nice point. Cut the end at an angle. Roll it with you fingers into a nice point.
The first 4 methods let you insert the beads with an actual needle, so they can be a bit faster than self needles. But since you also have to get the folded cord through the bead, it is sometimes too bulky for finer beads or thicker cords.

Loading beads with a self needle is best for beads with fine holes such as pearls, or when you wish to insert more than one cord into a bead.






Beeswax has several advantages over the Fray Check method. The beeswax does not require waiting for drying time. Fray Check tends to thicken the cord, whereas the beeswax self needle with a little practice gets the cord into a fine point that can get through finer beads than any of the other methods described above.

Note: Not all beeswaxes are equal. Some are sticky as they have too much residue left inside. My beekeeper tells me that the beeswax quality also depend on the bees diet. His thrive on a varied diet from the hills of the California coastal range from South San Francisco to the Santa Cruz Mountains, making his beeswax nice and hard. I leave mine close to a light so it soften a bit with heat, and applies more easily to the cord. Then it can harden right onto the cord making a sturdy self needle.

Of course in the end it is best to try all the different methods, find your personal preferences and your favorite way for specific projects!
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