Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Perfect Connection

Hello and thank you for visiting.
My first post for Bead Mavens I want to share some of the "tricks" I use when working with FireLine.

I started beadweaving in 2007 and was taught to use Nymo.  I became pretty proficient with Nymo but was not happy with how it shredded, how hard it sometimes could be to thread the needle and I didn't like how you always had so many threads to sew down when you had finished your creation. Then I purchased Diane Fitzgerald's book Shaped Beadwork and she talked about using a thread called FireLine. 

Berkley FireLine is a nylon thread used for fishing, can be purchased in 1lb, 2lb, 4lb, 6lb, 8lb strengths which are ideal for bead weaving and even higher strengths which can be used for bead stringing. FireLine fishing line comes in Crystal (white), Smoke (grey/black), Fluoro Lime Green, Fluoro Pink and now Berkley is releasing reels in limited colours aimed at beaders. I am primarily a beadweaver so I will talk about the main threads I use - 4lb and 6lb weights.

Diane Fitzgerald taught - on pages 14-15 of her book - how to not have a tail in your beadwork, securing a knot by melting the ends of the thread with a cigarette lighter. I used this technique one day, started weaving and almost finished a round when I realised I had the wrong count. Frustrated with the mistake I tried to pull the ring of beads apart. It would not come apart and I came close to cutting my hands.
That was when I realised a way of joining two pieces of Fireline together and I have been doing it ever since.


Things to remember:
1) when melting, take the FireLine end towards the base of the flame, NOT the top
2) do not make the 'blobs' of melted FireLine too large. 
3) do not allow the FireLine to catch alight as it becomes brittle and breaks easily
4) the reef knot does not need to be tight, just loosely pulled together.
If you are having problems seeing the video above try the link below:

When I teach this to my students often they are unable to pull the blobs together fearing breaking the thread. Give it a good tug and it should slide together. If it still won't slide then the reef knot you tied is possibly not allowing it to happen and you may need to try again. 

A 'blob' join in 4lb FireLine will travel through size 15s - yes size 15s!!

NOTE: if I already have a lot of thread passes I do not use a 'blob' join as you may break beads pulling the join through. Be discerning when to use this type of join and when NOT to use it.

I have also used a 'blob' join with 6lb FireLine and size 15/0s but I don't like to push my luck as you may have success for nine beads and then the tenth bead may break - very annoying. A 6lb Fireline 'blob' join is fine for size 11/0s and larger seed beads.  

Which brings me to my next "trick" - JOINING IN MORE FIRELINE.

If the area won't take a 'blob' join I melt a blob on a new thread, thread my needle with the other end. I choose an out-of-sight area, sew through a few beads, pull the thread through until the blob catches - do not tug it through - I sew a half hitch knot, pass through a few more beads, sew another half hitch knot and continue to exit where my old work thread is. I then tie the new and old threads with a reef knot and sew down my old work thread. The blob will not pass through the half hitch knots and you have a secure join.

I get pretty frustrated with 'tails' when I start beading, without fail I seem to get the tail tangled in my work. Whenever I can I make a join that does away with tails. 

FINISHING AND SEWING DOWN. As we know some ending threads manage to unravel after a period of being worn and handled. When sewing down FireLine I do the usual few half hitch knots, when I cut my thread I cut leaving about 3-4mm showing (1/8") I then use my lighter to quickly melt that small amount into a blob which disappears into your work. This melting hinders the thread from unravelling. NOTE: I do not use this ending near galvanised beads as I have had some change colour. Again be discerning when to use this method and when not to use it.

Every beader I have taught these methods to has never looked back and I am always thanked for sharing this information.  Give it a go on a practice piece and see for yourself how it really does work.
You have nothing to loose and everything to gain.

Happy Beading


All videos were taken by my dear friend Neva Brown of Nifty Creations, also a talented bead artist.