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·· Knotting pearls on silk part 3
·· Knotting pearls on silk part 2
·· On knotting pearls on silk

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Beading Blog - October 2008

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One woman's adventures in the wide, wonderful world of beading.
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Knotting pearls on silk part 3
posted by Colleen Shirazi, October 27, 2008 at 9:23 PM (Pacific)

Still working on my first project! I had decided to make it a multi-strand pearl necklace, and haven't had much time to work on it.

The first strand is finished--large freshwater pearls on #4 silk. I haven't glued it, but the clamshell is knotted in place on one end; waiting for the rest of the strands to be knotted before finishing the other end.

The second strand, of small tried doing it on #0 silk, doubled. #4 was too thick and I didn't have anything else on hand. Bleh. I got the strand done, using a larger knot. #0 is so thin, the usual overhand knot is too small. But I don't want to use this technique any more; it's too time-consuming, and uses too much silk (doubled, 2 meters of #0 is just enough to do one standard-length strand of small pearls).

While I was doing this strand, I found you can rescue a knot which comes out a bit too far from the pearl, by adding in another overhand knot, and incorporating the first knot into it. I don't know if this will work with thicker silk (the resulting knot might be too big), but for fine silk, it worked well.

So I need to buy more silk. I'll probably go with I've ordered from them many times; they're quite reasonable, free shipping, no minimum purchase, and most items can be bought by the piece.

Despite all the head-aches of figuring out the right kind of silk and how you wish to finish the ends (clamshells vs. french wire), it's a good skill to learn. Say you wanted a necklace of large round beads. You could string them on softflex, but knotting makes the strand look so much nicer.

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Knotting pearls on silk part 2
posted by Colleen Shirazi, October 21, 2008 at 6:56 PM (Pacific)

Argh! Of course by now I've discovered how different are the thicknesses of silk (or rather, how differing the drill-holes are in pearls!). I tried my #4 Griffin silk on some smaller pearls I had on dice, not at all. mumbles...

That's one aspect of making anything jewelry, that is not obvious to people who don't do it. Unless you own the bead store, you're perennially short of at least one item you need to finish the piece, at least until you've been short enough times to own tons of materials. I even tried altering my design to use larger pearls, but they all have these miniscule drill-holes.

It's just as well, since I need to restring another piece; hopefully I can cover both in a single bead-shop visit.

The other piece is more complicated and I'm not sure how I'm going to do it. It's four strands of very small pearls, with the four strands coming together at the top of each end of the piece, joining into a single strand, which is then attached to the clasp. The thread (it looks like cotton) at the tops is exposed and beginning to fray.

I'm thinking if I redid this on silk, and used french wire to cover the exposed parts of the silk, it should work, but still it'll probably take a couple tries before I get it the way I want it.

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On knotting pearls on silk
posted by Colleen Shirazi, October 17, 2008 at 10:00 PM (Pacific)

griffin silk cord

I finally got around to trying this. Why did I wait so long?????

It's actually not too difficult, though it is time-consuming (then, everything to do with making jewelry tends to be time-consuming). I got the silk and clamshells yesterday, along with a strand of pearls, at Bead Castle in Berkeley. The owner was very helpful and recommended Griffin #4 silk for those particular pearls.

I did my first knotted strand yesterday. Since I don't own a bead awl, I used a very skinny mandrel from a jump ring set. This worked okay (the mandrel is too skinny to make jump rings with, btw) but you really need either the awl or knotting tweezers, or something very similar. I got the tweezers today. The awl seemed scary sharp, and the tweezers looked handier (if your knot looks as if it isn't going to be placed correctly, you can still get it apart again with the tweezers).

I wasn't 100% happy with my first strand, but I'll have to say it looked pretty decent. Like anything else in jewelry making, you want it to be perfect, so you have to practice some.

So I'm planning to redo my initial strand--started it tonight in fact--and make a four-strand necklace. I want to do something like this (from Blue Oyster Pearls Necklaces Catalog) but simpler, something I can wear to work. I have the one large pearl strand, but I'm planning to use it with three strings of small pearls, rather than use five kinds of pearls.

Having just begun, I can't advise much, but I didn't glue the knot into the clamshell on my first try. I was too chicken. A good thing, since I need to redo the strand!

I can say it's well worth the effort of knotting; stringing beads straight is not the same. The knotted string drapes better and imo looks better too. Plus the more obvious advantages--the nacre of pearls strung without knots (or spacers) is supposed to wear away eventually--and knotting adds some instant length to the strand, meaning you can stretch out your pearls and cut the weight of the necklace.

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