It took me several years of self-directed study to get to the level of beading that I am at now, and I am still learning. There is no beading school, no beading degree that I know of, no pathway – do this first, then this, and now you’re a great beader. Through trial and error I found out what beads to use and which to cull out, what threads to use to achieve a certain stability or flexibility, and which clasps work better for necklaces or bracelets. All this takes trial and error, time and experience, and money.
I am using glass beads, mainly Miyuki Delicas. They are uniform in size and do not need much culling (i.e. when you discard the wonky shapes, or the ones that are too small, too large or broken). They are expensive, because they keep their colour well - except for some shades or finishes, that can wear down; again, it takes experience to find out what works best for what you want to achieve.
When beadweaving I am using Fireline thread. This is a braided fishing thread, available in different thicknesses and colours. It is resistant to the abrasions caused by the sharp edged holes of gem stones, crystals and cut (hexagonal) beads.
My necklaces are strung on a braided metal thread, which is resistant to sharp edges of glass or crystal beads. Different clasps work with different designs. Through experience – i.e. losing cherished bracelets – I have learned only to use magnetic clasps on necklaces, never on bracelets.
When using gemstones I am looking for natural, undyed stones, that are not stabilised. Stabilising infuses resins or other manmade material into the stone to achieve a more uniform finish or colour. Natural gem stones achieve that through polish. Polished gem stones retain their geological characteristics and beneficial properties.
All of this and more takes time to learn. Time and an open mind. Open to new experiences and also to admitting errors. My work is still evolving, and hopefully getting better – not only in looks but also in quality. Just the other day I tossed out a box of severely misshapen white seed beads, which originally I thought I should use up – nah, the finished pieces look better in quality beads. And then I threw out a spool of fishing line, which wasn’t the normal Fireline (I had traveled for the weekend and forgot, and made an emergency purchase at the local fishing shop). But the thread frayed and was difficult to thread. Out it goes.
Jewellery has its price because you purchase years of learning and experience, just like any other handmade item: a crafted chair, an embroidered pillowcase. They all show a piece of soul of the maker.