Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crossing the Finish Line!

Hi All! Twyla, from Lady Abeada Designs here. First, I want to take this opportunity to say how thrilled and honored I am to be one of the Bead Mavens this year. Thank you, Mikki, I am having the time of my life!! :) Please be aware that what follows is merely my opinion, not fact, and should be taken in kind. I am certainly not an expert on anything and can only share with you what works for me. :) Having said that, let's get started.

What I would like to talk with you about today is something I feel is of great importance when it comes to bead work, but sometimes seems to get overlooked on the conversational end of things, and that is finish work. You might ask what constitutes finish work?  For me, it basically comes down to three main areas; over-all thread tension throughout the piece, knots and thread ends, and closures or clasps. The finish work one does can make or break a beautiful design. Stop and think about it for a second. Haven't we all, at one time or another, had the experience of being drawn to a piece of bead work, but then upon closer examination of the piece, discovered things about it that weren't quite up to muster?

I know I have, and for me, one of the quickest things that will easily derail the professionalism and natural beauty of a gorgeous piece of bead work is to have an unequal thread tension running throughout the body of the work; too tight in some areas and too lose in others.

Thread tension is largely responsible for the over all drape of your piece, and therefore, extremely important to the success or failure of the work. Maintaining an even balance where thread tension is concerned can prevent puckering, buckling or having gaps in your beading, and while it sounds easy enough, learning to control thread tension in bead work is really a learned process that takes a great deal of practice to achieve lasting success with.

I have found that small steps will accomplish leaps and bounds; try giving your thread a little firm tug after each stitch or making a half hitch knot every so often to maintain the thread tension of the work you have already completed.  Upon occasion, perfecting thread tension can easily translate to something as simple as using a larger or smaller size thread or even a different brand of thread for the project you are working on. It really comes down to experimenting  and finding what works  best for you as an individual beader.

Another thing that will seriously detract from a  breath taking piece of work is to see thread knots or thread ends sticking out or up from the beads.
Fortunately, there are many different methods available that one can use to hide threads and knots, but my own experience has taught me that no matter how closely I trim those thread ends or how many times I change directions while weaving through the bead work,  that over time and with wear, they will almost certainly find a way to wiggle free and poke out their ugly little thread heads just where I don't want them to be. So, what can you do to prevent this from happening?

My solution is to hold the thread taut and put a tiny dot of glue on the thread just above where I intend to cut and trim it, so that when the thread retracts into the bead work, it will glue itself into place within the piece. Remember though, you only want to use this method if you are completely finished with your piece and are 100% sure that you will not be taking the bead work apart. Whatever method you choose, in the end, the desired result is the same; you should have no visible knots or thread. :)

When you have your project completed and all the threads are knotted and tied off, and the ends woven in, it's time to choose a clasp or closure. There are several different types to choose from.  Most of the patterns I have ever seen tell you to add a clasp, but normally they won't say which kind to use or why you should or shouldn't use a particular type. So how do you decide which type of closure to use on your project?

I am certainly no authority on the subject and am not even sure if there are any hard and fast rules on the matter, but I do know that choosing incorrectly can certainly put a damper on the overall ascetic of your work.

When putting that final touch on your bead work, you may want to consider such things as the lines, color, weight, texture, size, drape and perceived value of your piece. All of these things individually or taken as a whole can influence your final decision when it comes to making a choice for a clasp.  

For example,  you wouldn't want to use a lobster clasp that is normally intended for a single strand, light weight necklace on a heavy, fully textured, bead embroidered piece. You would be more inclined to consider  making a choice that is more geared to handling a heavier weighted piece, such as a toggle clasp, S hook, or something along those lines. 

Maybe you prefer to design and bead or create your own clasps. Many designers do and I happen to be one of them.  In the end, it makes little difference whether you purchase clasps or create your own. By taking a little extra care and paying a little extra attention to the details of your finish work, you will end up with a piece of bead work that is not only functional and ascetically pleasing, but high quality, and something you will be proud to put your name on.

I would love to hear about any special techniques or tips that you may use or have discovered along the way when doing your finish work. Please share them with all of us in the comment section below. :) For more on my beading explorations, you can catch me on my personal blog:

Until next time-
Bead True to Yourself!