5.29.2012

Free Jewelry Making Tutorials: Bead or Pearl Knotting

silk jewelry cord knots knotting hand pearl beads gemstones
Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): hand knotted beads

One of my favorite jewelry making techniques is knotting between beads using silk cord. I'm drawn to this jewelry design technique because it allows me to incorporate one more layer of texture in my work. It also reminds me of the softness and elegance of textiles, which provides a nice contrast to harder gems and metal.

Another reason for adding knotting to your jewelry making techniques is that it helps prevent the loss of beads if a necklace breaks.

Free Bead or Pearl Knotting Tutorials


This hand knotting pearl video by Fire Mountain is a pretty clear tutorial on how to do this technique but doesn't cover how to attach a clasp at the end. It also seems to use two strands of silk, which isn't always practical for smaller holed gems.

This Beadalon video uses a French wire at the end, a bead reamer, and beading awl. This shows how to use an awl instead of tweezers and then goes on to demonstrate a clever knotting tool you can purchase instead.

Making Beaded Jewelry offers a pearl knotting tutorial that is most like the technique I use except that I do mine flat on a jewelry tray, and I put a dab of glue on the knot inside my clamshell bead tip. They also offer photos of the knotting tools and how to determine the size of silk jewelry cord.


silk jewelry cord knots knotting hand pearl beads gemstones
Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): hand knotted bead

 

 Helpful Tips from Beth


What type of cord should I use?

I recommend using silk jewelry cord for knotting because it ties easily and has a soft sheen. My favorite brand of silk for knotting is Griffin Bead Cord, which has very thin, twisted stainless steel needle attached to one end to make stringing small beads with tiny holes a lot easier.  They have around 20 different colors and are available in thickness sizes #0 through #16 in lengths of 2 meters (6.5 feet). The most popular sizes are #0, #1, and #2 when using pearls or smaller gems and then #4 and #6 with larger beads.


silk jewelry cord knots knotting hand pearl beads gemstones
Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): hand knotted beads

How do I pre-stretch my silk jewelry cord?

Silk jewelry cord stretches over time so it needs to be pre-stretched before stringing and knotting beads. To pre-stretch my silk jewelry cord, I unravel the whole length of Griffin silk from the card and tie the end that doesn't have a needle around a doorknob. I shut the door. I then take the opposite end of the silk and walk away from the door and when it becomes taut, I stretch it for a couple of minutes. When I'm finished, I cut the stretched silk jewelry cord off the doorknob.

What size silk jewelry cord should I buy?

Make sure the size of the silk jewelry cord that you choose fits easily through the holes of your beads and bead caps, but still is thick enough that when a knot is made the bead will be held in place.

Do you have any suggestions for getting out knots that are mistakes?

Buy thread conditioner and run it through the entire length of the silk cord before you begin knotting your strand of beads. This helps loosen knots you make by mistake along the way without damaging the cord. I use this brand of conditioner called Thread Heaven.


silk jewelry cord knots knotting hand pearl beads gemstones
Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): hand knotted beads

 

Do you have any tips for using clamshell bead tips?

When I use a clamshell bead tip, I sometimes knot a super tiny seed bead inside to hold my silk jewelry cord in place instead of just tying a large knot. I also dab a little bit of glue on the knotted seed bead or large knot inside my clamshell bead tip. For a free tutorial on how to use a clamshell bead tip check out these instructions by Tammy Powley or this video by Blue Moon Beads.


silk jewelry cord knots knotting hand pearl beads gemstones
Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): hand knotted beads


What can I do if I don't have a clamshell bead tip in my stash?

If I don't use a clamshell bead tip, I tie my silk cord directly to my clasp or chain and make a double knot. I place a dab of glue on the knot to seal the fibers of the silk and cut off the excess cord. My preferred glue is G-S Hypo Cement because it has a precision applicator that controls the flow for fine detail work and keeps things clean. You may be able to find G-S Hypo Cement at your local Michael's or craft shop. I only use this technique for tiny strands of knotted gems (2 - 4 inches) that I incorporate in a chain necklace or bracelet design. If you are going to do a whole knotted necklace, to bear the weight I recommend purchasing clamshell bead tips or using the French wire technique demonstrated by Beadalon.


silk jewelry cord knots knotting hand pearl beads gemstones
Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): hand knotted beads

What other tools do you use to knot your beads?

I prefer to knot my beads on a jewelry display tray that has a removal black velvet insert. The black colored background helps me see my work with the fine silk, and the cushy velvet lets me stick the tips of my tweezers into the base of the tray to hold everything steady while I make a snug knot.


silk jewelry cord knots knotting hand pearl beads gemstones
Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): hand knotted beads

Do you have any other unique design suggestions?

Other ideas might be to tie double knots in between beads, tie a series of two or three knots side by side to create a decorative motif between beads, or use contrasting colored silk cord with beads to create an eye catching design.


3 comments:

  1. Wonderful tips! I've been trying to do a knotted cord for the first time, started last week, and I found I was fumble-fingers at first. Hopefully, it gets more coordinated with practice?
    Cheers,
    Lynn

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you! Looking forward to checking out the tut on the beading awl, and getting some thread conditioner!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I haven't tried any bead knotting yet. You have some great tips, and I really like the ideal of not losing beads if a necklace break. I will have to try my hand at bead knotting. Thanks for sharing your great tips.

    ReplyDelete

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