Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bead Stringing How To

Today I am working with heishi river shell beads. Some people are under the impression that since beads are prestrung you can simply slap closures on the ends and voila you're done! While some designers may do this it is simply not acceptable at Bellina Creations. When dealing with man made symmetrical beads and crystal it is much easier. But when using organic pieces such as stone and shell it's almost like putting together a puzzle. It takes many strands of shell to make one necklace. For this necklace it took three strands. All the shells must be removed from the strands they came on and be properly strung on beading wire.

Beading wire differs in strand count. You want a kink resistant, strong, flexible wire that will give the piece you are working on the drape you are looking for.

Each shell is inspected.  A few shells are strung together to see how they fit against one another.  Obvious less desirable shells are removed and put aside.

You want to try to look for shells that have the hole directly in the middle.  You will find many with the hole on top, bottom or off to the side.  If you don't inspect them carefully and see how they fall together you will end up with something that looks like a pregnant earth worm.  This photo below is actually the string laying straight and you can see it is very misshapen and won't lay in a straight line.

While you may think at first it looks better to not be able to see any of the beading wire it is a must.  In order for the finished necklace to have give you must leave a small amount of play between the beads so that it can bend.  Otherwise when you finish your strand it will resemble a straight wooden stick and you will not be able to drape the piece.  

Strung too tightly strand has no give.

You don't want to make your shells so perfect that it looses it's organic quality.  And since they are not synthetic it will not be machine made perfect.  Your final piece should look something like this.

Blue Heishi River Shell Unisex Necklace

Blue Heishi River Shell Unisex Necklace


  1. That's beautiful! I've never done much with beads before... you make it seem so easy!

  2. Nice post, good info here!

    Laura - stopping by from EBT
    Have a great day!


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