Posts filed under ‘Tips & Tricks’

NEEDLE THE THREAD (don’t thread the needle)

One of the reasons I don’t work much with seed beads is that I HATE to thread a needle!  Whenever possible, I use the wonderful “Big Eye” needle, which, if you have never seen one, has an “eye” running the entire length of the needle.  The only problem with the Big Eye is that it is not thin enough to use with your smaller seed beads.

So…I set out to find all the best tips and tricks to threading a needle, and here they are!

1.         Good light…and dollar store glasses!  These are my most important tools when I thread a needle.   I use my portable, rechargeable Ott Light, and the strongest over-the-counter reading glasses I can get, usually from the dollar store.  They work for simple magnification.

2.         Wax the thread with bee’s wax or Thread Heaven.  Cut at an angle.

3.         Check which side of the needle’s eye is larger.  Because needles are stamped, one side of the eye is larger than the other side.  If you’re having problems with one side, turn it over and try the other.

4.         “Needle the thread,” instead of threading the needle:   Hold the thread in your non-dominant hand between your thumb and forefinger and pull it down until just the very tip of the thread shows.  Take the needle in your dominant hand and slide it down between your thumb & forefinger onto the tip, then pull that tip up and further through.

5.         If the eye of your needle gets clogged with wax, dip it in rubbing alcohol.

6.         If all else fails, use a “Super-fine Needle Threader” available at in my eBay store, along with regular needle threaders, needles, wax, Big Eye needles and more.

7.         In a pinch, you can make your own needle, which means you don’t even have to thread it!  Use 34 gauge wire.  Fold about 4-5 inches of wire over the center of your thread and twist the wire tightly.  Trim the ends to get a nice point.  This will not work for bead weaving, but is fine for simple stringing.




October 8, 2009 at 2:43 pm Leave a comment

Antiqueing or Coloring Bone Beads

Make your bone beads go from bland and boring to colorful.  Bone beads are lightweight and can add a lot to your design without adding weight, but they are usually a plain white color.

Bone beads or pendants can be antiqued in hot tea or coffee, or sauteed in oil Sauteeing produces a rich, golden color, but the smell of the oil will be retained in beads. The tea or coffee method can produce gray areas where the bone is not entirely white.

You can use Rit dyes for adding color to bone beads: Use a teacup and boiling water, add grains of dye until the desired strength has been reached. Leave your bone beads in there until they are the color you wish, then rinse well.


September 27, 2009 at 9:52 pm Leave a comment

Tools and Tips for Measuring

With some of my beading projects, I actually work over a ruler.  An example would be when I make an illusion-style necklace.  I like to start from the middle and work from side to side.  In order to keep my intervals between beads nice and even, I set the beads in place right over a regular plastic school ruler.

Here are a few ideas for keeping a measuring instrument at hand!

At the hardware store, you can purchase self-sticking measuring tape for around $2. Use a strip on your bead table, another on your bead tray, or even on your traveling bead case.

Keep a measuring tape in your traveling bead box. You don’t need a 6′ measuring tape, so you will be able to find one that is compact and fits easily with your gear.

Beadsmith came out with a little job called “The Ultimate Folding Ruler.” I ordered some and will be listing them in my eBay store. It is very clever – it folds out into the length of a regular ruler, with both inches and centimeters, but then it folds up into a little compact cube about the size of a Chunky candy bar! (actual measurements 1.5″x 1.5″x 1″.) It will retail for about $1.75 and is cute as a bug!

In a later post I will address the tools you can use to measure your beads.



February 8, 2008 at 3:51 pm Leave a comment

Straightening Headpins and Wire

When you order headpins in bulk, they can arrive looking like a bird’s nest.  To straighten them out, you can roll them between two surfaces.  The Wire Whacker is a good tool for this, as it is made of a heavy plastic which will not mar the headpins.  Another great tool to straight headpins (or any wire for that matter) is the nylon-jawed pliers that I call “Mr. Smoothie.”  For light headpins, a nylon-jawed chain-nose plier would be fine.


January 27, 2008 at 6:53 pm Leave a comment

Removing Chalky Bead Release from Lampworked Beads

Indian and Chinese lampworked beads can be an inexpensive and attractive alternative, but quite often you have to contend with that thick white stuff lining the holes of the beads. It’s called bead release, and it is what allowed the beadmaker to remove the bead from the steel rod (called a “mandrel.”)

You can remove bead release safely and easily with denture tablets. When I go to the dentist, I ask him for a package of samples. Just plop a tablet or 2 into a bowl of water along with your beads and allow the denture tablets to do their magic.


January 22, 2008 at 4:50 pm 2 comments

Removing AB Finish from Old Crystal Beads

I am a thrift store/yard sale/flea market fiend.  If you are like me, you know that you can often find old crystal jewelry for a pittance.  The problem is, often the clear crystal beads have an AB finish which is scratched and tatty-looking or faded.  You can remove it completely and use the clear crystal beads by rubbing the beads very gently with very fine steel wool (#000 & #0000)  This will also work well with tarnished metal vintage findings.  What do you have to lose?


January 21, 2008 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment


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