Imaginative stringing can change the most ordinary collection of beads and small ornaments into an eye-stopping piece of jewelry. Wooden, plastic, or glass beads are marvelous spacers between the main elements of necklaces of found objects natural materials, or heavy clay or glass beads. They provide that note of color or unusual texture needed to make a piece visually exciting. Space itself is an important design element. Loops of beads or varied dangles will help achieve a light, airy quality. Alternation of size, color, and texture of beads will eliminate the possibility of uninteresting repetitive results.
Materials used in stringing are relatively simple, and are chosen for the most part by the weight and size of the objects they support. Large clay beads might require a leather thong for both physical and visual strength. Monofilarnent or nylon fishline is excellent for stringing beads. The limp monofilament, at 8-pounds test weight, is fine enough to allow two or three strands to go through a medium- sized hole. It is better to use several strands than one heavy thread. In case one thread breaks, there will still be another holding the necklace. When you use several strands of material, it often helps to apply epoxy or clear glue for one or two inches along the ends. When dry, this forms a stiff needlelike point that can be used in stringing. Bead- stringing silk and dental floss are also excellent materials. Leather or cotton shoelaces make attractive “strings” for heavy objects, and elastic thread holds a great deal of weight unobtrusively. Wire can also be used, though it loses its shape as it is manipulated.
After completing the stringing, tie the strands onto the hook and catch of the clasp, and apply a drop of epoxy or glue to the knot. Model-airplane glue or household cement like Duco can be used. Then run the threads back through the beads, applying a bit of glue at every opening between the beads to give added strength to the fastening.
Pendants are much easier to string than beads. The character of the stringing material is very important! though! because it plays such a dominant part in the total design. The stringing material must relate well to the pendant itself.
Leather thong, often used for supporting large pendants, has become available lately in many beautiful colors. There was a time when it had to be dyed by the craftsman — either with leather dye! food coloring, or fabric dye — if any color but black, brown, or tan was needed. Now leather and craft supply shops carry all sizes, lengths, and colors. A refined! polished thong — beautifully rounded leather shoelaces — can be bought in men’s shoe stores, The color selection is limited, however, some leather shops stock round drive belts used in machines. This material has a good finish, and its substantial thickness makes it especially suitable for large-scale pendants. A lightweight pendant can be held by thin leather scraps pieced and glued together with rubber cement. Two thicknesses of leather should be used, both with the finished side facing out. For maximum strength, the joints on the two strips should alternate; that is, the joined edges of the top strip should be glued down in the middle of a solid piece on the bottom strip.
Increasing supplies of macrame materials have provided the jeweler with an unlimited range of colored, textured, and sized string. Bits of colored wool yarn, crochet cotton, and embroidery thread can also be used innovatively. Just plain cotton shoelaces with tipped ends make inexpensive thongs, and of course white laces can be dyed any color.
String and twine also can be easily dyed or left in their natural colors. The advantage of buying undyed string or twine is that it is available in all weights. Fine string, not strong alone, can be grouped into bundles and then wrapped at various places with string of similar or contrasting colors to create a truly handsome support for a pendant.
Commercial cords are available in jewelry supply houses, jewelry stores, and some department store trimming sections. These cords are usually black or brown, and have a tightly woven nylon covering. The ends can be melted with a match to join them. This creates a small hard lump of melted nylon that gives a fairly finished appearance.
Plastic line and gimp provide colorful and strong thongs. The main problem with plastic is stiffness, which may inhibit the hanging of lightweight pen.
Finding is the term applied to necklace and bracelet catches, pin backs, earring backs, and cuff-link backs. Commercial findings are the most satisfactory for pins, earrings, and cuff links, but handcrafted catches for necklaces are usually more in keeping with the character of a craftsman’s jewelry than commercial catches.
Pin backs are attached so that the hinge is on the right and the catch is on the left when you are looking at the back of the piece. The natural movement in putting a pin on clothing seems to be from right to left, although they may only be because commercial pins have this arrangement. Left-handed people, who have to make so many concessions to a right- handed society, should take this chance to do it their own way when attaching the finding.
If a pin is large, the backing should be applied above the middle axis to balance properly when worn. Pin backs may also be applied vertically down the center of a long, narrow pin. In this case, the hinge should be at the top, the catch at the bottom.
Earring backs come in many shapes and sizes. A safe way to decide where to place the earring button on the backing is to put the back on the ear and, while looking in the mirror, try the button into various positions. Note the position exactly, remove the back, and glue the button into position. Ear wires for pierced ears are easier to work with, for there is no special positioning or accurate gluing necessary. Balance and lightness are important, however, and should be kept in mind when working with varied materials.
Cuff-link backs are the most difficult to fasten onto various materials. The stress created by the active wrist is almost more than even epoxy glue can take. A good epoxy adherence is as satisfactory as lead solder, but a check should be made each time the cuff links are worn to see that they are firmly fastened. When fastening the back onto the decorative part, consider the position of the buttonhole and the shape of the cuff link. If it doesn’t matter what way the top goes, it doesn’t matter how the backing is positioned. But if the design is to be worn parallel to the arm, the backing should go at right angles to the shirt buttonhole. In other words, placing the cuff-link back along the narrow design would put the opened cuff-link back at right angles to the shirt buttonhole.