First, gather your supplies:
- Wire (I use Accuflex or Softflex 49-strand .019, this is a medium weight wire good for most beading jobs)
- Clasp (only one side of my toggle is shown in this photo)
- Beads that will go between clasp and crimp (make sure the bead hole is wide enough to accommodate two thicknesses of your thread/wire)
- Crimp beads (I avoid plated crimps and thin metal crimps, opting for thick-walled gold-fill or sterling silver; I use 2x2mm crimps with 3mm crimp covers)
- Crimp covers (not shown in this photo)
- Crimp pliers (make sure you’re using the right size crimp pliers; “micro” crimp pliers are for 1x1mm crimp beads and will not work on 2x2mm crimp beads)
Step 2: String one crimp, then a spacer bead, then one end of the clasp onto wire/thread.
Step 3: Loop the wire/thread back through the spacer bead, then the crimp bead.
I do all that about an inch or so from the clasp.
Step 5: Use the wonderfully dexterous fingers of one hand to pull the two lines of wire/thread in separate directions. At this point, don’t wig out if your beads slide down the wire a bit (aren’t tight up against the clasp)… try not to let them slip TOO far, but a little space isn’t gonna kill ya… you’ll see why in a second.
Now that it’s in position, you use that very talented hand again to pull the wire/thread strands to the sides, and slide your two beads back up toward the clasp if you need to… don’t press the pliers down yet… only enough pressure to slide the beads up.
This is a step for which you must take extreme care. Go slowly… screwing up may wreck your entire piece of jewelry (unless you LIKE starting over from the beginning).
When you smoosh the crimp bead in these first indents, make sure your bead doesn’t slip (angle) and end up at a diagonal (or worse!). It must remain upright while you smoosh! You must fold the U perfectly in half.
Step 11: Cut the wire so that the end would end up in the middle of the length of the next bead to be strung on. The only problem you will ever have with this is if you string very loosely; then you run the risk of having your “tail” bit of thread/wire poke out and not be nicely tucked into a bead. If you know you’re going to string loosely, cut flush with a bead (see instructions for crimping the other end … coming up).
Step 12: Put your next bead on, making sure the tail of the thread/wire is tucked into it. All the rest of the beads (until the OTHER end of the piece of jewelry) will merely be strung onto this one thread/wire.
Step 13: Okay, now we’re at the other end of the piece. You put on all the beads you were going to put on and you finish (most likely) the way you started (bead pattern wise). So… the last two things on are a crimp and (in this case) a 5mm Swarovski.
Step 14: Loop that end of the thread/wire through the toggle end of your clasp (or whatever is the OTHER end of your clasp), and then come back around and go through the 5mm Swarovski (your spacer bead) and through the crimp.
… and through two (or however many you decide) regular beads (see note at end of article)… You’ve got room to move around up there, y’know… ’cause that loop around the clasp is plenty slack. Slide the beads however you need to in order to do what you gotta do. We’ll cinch it all up in a second…
Step 15: After you go through two or so beads past the crimp with the tail of the thread/wire, pull down on the tail while holding the last single-threaded bead. This keeps the beads on the necklace/bracelet in place, tight, and merely moves the thread/wire into its cinched up position.
Under my thumb is the continuation of the necklace.
Use needle nose pliers (or whatever works for you) to gently start smashing the crimp bead halves until they begin to meet (in a sphere covering your crimp). Now… I say “gently” here because these buggers seem to fall to the ground at least 10 times before I can complete my project. If it starts to slip and you smash too quickly, you will end up with a very crooked affair.
I stop before the crimp cover is all the way closed… See why? It’s slightly off center. But I don’t wig out. All I was trying to do at first was close it enough so that it won’t fall off as I’m trying to work with it.
A couple of notes/tips:
- Don’t do the crimps until you’re piece is complete and checked for accuracy and correct length.
- I prefer to err on the side of having WAY too much thread/wire as opposed to the alternate which includes not having enough length to finish your project or having only just enough to fight and struggle with it during the crimping process.
- Practice and time will eventually teach you how tight or how loose to make your pieces. Crimping is the final step that determines the tightness of a piece. And sometimes a piece may SEEM loose enough until you bend it into the shape it will be. The only remedy for too tight is to TRY to find a fragile bead (glass bead beads are the best) and break it with some needle nose pliers. This isn’t a recommended thing to do and should only be used as a last resort. If your piece accidentally ends up too lose, the only solution I can think of is to take a crimp cover and add it to the space (without a crimp).