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Selecting beads


 

Once you have an idea of the type of necklace you want to make, the fun begins! It's now time to start looking at all the myriads of beads to pick out something neat and exciting to bring out your Pleo's personality. And knowing what beads you plan to use will help you to determine what else you are going to need and how you are going to string them. I use the term "bead" here to refer to what youíre putting on the necklace. It isnít limited to actual beads. It could be a single stone or crystal hung as a pendant, but it could also be miniature plastic bones or pieces of macaroni. It could be silk flowers or shark's teeth. Use your imagination! But here are a few things to consider when selecting beads:

Material

What the beads are made of goes a long way to determining how the necklace will need to be strung. And there is a plethora of choices out there. Don't you just love the word 'plethora'? Anyway, here are some pros and cons on the major materials used for making beads.

Natural - Natural materials fall into two groups organic (like pearls, sea shells, amber, bone, coral, horn, and ivory) and stone (like agate, tiger eye, opal, and turquoise). Stone beads tend to be the heaviest choice of bead, but offer a spectacular range of colors and textures. They do require a sturdier string (such as wire) but the beads themselves are pretty durable. And, you do have a stone-age pet... The organic beads are a lighter weight, but more easily damaged. All natural beads have drilled holes for stringing, and the holes may have to be enlarges or have rough edges. Most stone beads can be ultrasonically cleaned, but some stones, like opal and turquoise, and any organic bead (amber, bone, coral, horn, ivory, etc) can be damaged if cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner. Some stone beads are also dyed. These beads should be used carefully, as the color can sometimes leach out of the stone, and do not steam-clean!

Wood - Wood beads are light, but often rather large in size. They are inexpensive and can be used nicely as a main/central bead or hung as a pendant. Wood tends to be soft and can get scratched easily. Wood works nicely with a leather string, but tends to wobble or hang awkward on a thin silk or wire thread.

Glass / ceramic - Glass and ceramic beads are probably the most common type of bead used by crafters. They offer a wide range of colors, styles, and shapes. You can find just about anything you're looking for in glass or ceramic beads. They are generally light weight in the smaller sizes, but some of the crystal can be as heavy as the stone beads. They are also easier to break. Be careful of faceted beads that might abrade your Pleo's skin. Also, a broken glass or ceramic bead can have very sharp edges that could quickly scar a Pleo's neck.

Plastic - Plastic is often the less expensive choice to glass or ceramic. Plastic is the lightest choice for beads, and offers the widest range of novelty shapes. Plastic beads are a great choice for quick and simple elastic bands. Plastic pony beads are an ideal choice for adding color to a leather strap or knotted on piece of cloth, but can hang awkwarly on a thin silk or wire thread.

Metals - Metal, such as gold, silver, and brass, are most often used for the clasps, connector rings, small spacer beads, chains, or specialty pieces. Metal tends to be heavy, and may have sharp edges (depending on shape). But no one can argue against the shine, glint, or elegance that a spot of gold or silver can add to a necklace.

Size

Last time I checked, we humans are ever so slightly larger than Pleos. So, what looks nice on you may be way too big for your Pleo. Your neck is 14 to 16 inches around. Your Pleo's neck is only 5 1/2. Round beads in the 12-16mm size on your Pleo will make a necklace that looks like something Wilma Flintstone wears. A quick rule of thumb for "looks" would be to take what looks good on you and divide the bead diameter by two. So, if you like an 8mm bead for yourself, try a 4mm for your Pleo. If you want an exact "scale" replica of your own necklace for your Pleo, you'll have to divide by three. Also, look at the size of beads used in bracelets you might wear. An adult wrist is close to 8 inches around, but that's still a good, close approximation of what the beads will look like on your Pleo.

Bead diameters also make a difference in relation to the overall length of the necklace. If you have really large beads, say 8mm or larger, then you will need to make the bracelet longer to make room for the thickness of the beads in order to assure that a finished necklace will fit correctly. The rule of thumb for round beads is to simply add three beads to the measured length of the neck. For any other shape, triple the diameter of one bead and add enough beads to your strand to equal that number. For example, using tube beads with a 3mm diameter and a 10mm length means youíll need to add one extra bead to your bracelet: 3 x 3mm = 9mm.

Color

It would be inappropriate (if not impossible) to tell you what color is best, or worst. But finding the right colors that work together is what makes a necklace stand out. The use of different colors creates contrast and pattern, and makes the necklace more interesting. Here are a few things to consider when choosing colors:

Skin color - Keep in mind that your skin may be some shade of pink or brown, but your Pleo's skin is green and yellow. Pink may look great on you, but will it look as good on your Pleo? That depends...

Complimentary vs. contrasting - If you're not sure, need help, or just want some inspiration, grab yourself a color wheel. Colors directly opposite of each other on the wheel (like red & green, or purple & yellow) are called complimentary, but are very contrasting; they can make a bold statement and can really stand out when used together. Colors next to each other on the wheel (like red & purple, or red & orange) tend to go with each other, and create a more subtle statement. Using differnt shading of the same color (lighter & darker) can also be a good way to create appealing patterns. Contrast can also be created by using different sizes or different transparencies next to each other.

Transparency - Many glass, plastic, and stone beads are partially transparent or translucent. These can be very beautiful and add a lot of visual interest to a necklace. But keep in mind when you're selecting colors, that a transparent bead's color will change based on the color of the beads next to it, the color of the thread inside the bead, and the color of what it's laying on (your Pleo's neck). Finish can also have an effect on the color. A glossy or polished bead will look different (darker) than a matte or rough finished bead of the same color.

Finding inspiration

An easy place to start looking for ideas is to look through online and print jewelry catalogs, and go to jewelry shops look around. Look at styles, patterns, types of beads, and possible color schemes. Craft stores and bead shops will have lots of stuff to look at, but it can be overwhelming! Rather than buying beads from a store, shop around at garage sales or flea markets for old costume/kids jewelry that has beads you like. Most Pleo necklaces don't need a lot of beads. A store-bought bead strand could be enough to make 3-4 Pleo necklaces!

Find an unusual bead to use in the center. Tie a knot slightly off center, then string the bead on, and tie another knot to hold it in place. You can then add other, smaller beads to make the center bead stand out, or leave as single bead.

Quick Tips

Use a bead reamer to smooth any rough bead hole edges.

Bone beads can be antiqued by soaking them in black tea.

To cleaning Stone Beads soak in warm, soapy water and scrub gently with a soft brush. Then rinse with clean water and place them on a towel to dry.

When using large, chunky beads, separate them with a single smaller bead to make it easier to bend around the neck.

An inexpensive way to separate your beads while you work with them is to use a plastic TV dinner tray. They usually have three or four seperate partitions.

Use a piece of Vellux for a working surface; the nap is just right to keep beads from rolling, and you can buy it by the yard or as inexpensive blankets at most stores (Walmart, etc.) and cut to whatever size you need.

WARNING!

Do not leave beads unattended around young children. They attract children's curiosity, and may pose a choking hazard.

How Many Beads Do I Need?


2mm75  5mm30  8mm19
3mm50  5.5mm27  9mm17
4mm38  6mm25  10mm15
4.5mm34  7mm22  12mm13

Numbers are approximate. Beads may be irregular or non-uniform in shape, which will affect the bead count. If you are knotting between beads, add 1-2mm per knot.

Birthstones

January:Garnet
February:Amethyst
March:Aquamarine
April:Diamond
May:Emerald
June:Pearl (or moonstone)
July:Ruby
August:Peridot
September:Sapphire
October:Opal (or Tourmaline)
November:Topaz (or Citrine)
December:Trquoise