How to Make Beaded Bracelets
A great hobby for children and even teens, is beading. It's fairly simple, and has tons of opportunity for them to exercise their creativity when making up patterns and color combinations. One of the most popular bead items today, are bracelets. But while stringing them is pretty much the same, what they are strung on, and how you finish them off, can make all the difference to how well they wear and how long a bracelet lasts.
Bracelets can be made on wire, or elastic. When using wire, you want to be careful of the gauge, which is a measure of the thickness. A wire that is too thin, will eventually break after being twisted and bent a number of times. If it is too thick, it may not go through small diameter beads. A gauge of 24 or less is good, but if you have certain beads in mind, check and see if it will pass through them. You'll also need what are called "findings", those are the parts of the clasp, usually a ring, and a lobster claw or ring with a drawback fastener.
If you are using plain wire, you'll want to cut it to the length of your wrist, plus 2-3" for winding and finishing off. Seven inches is an average bracelet size. Take one end of the wire, and wrap it two or three times around the ring, and then bring the end back down and twine it around the length of the wire for 1/2". Your beads should be able to slip over this and totally conceal it.
You can lay out your beads in the pattern you want, by laying them on a terry towel, which is less likely to make them roll. Be sure to place a ruler at the bottom, so you can get an idea of the length you're making, and whether there are too many beads. Alternately, beading boards are a great too, and have long U-shaped channels with inches marked along them for easier arranging and re-arranging your pattern.
Thread the beads along the wire that you have attached to one part of the findings. When you have them all on, pass the wire through the other part of the clasp twice, and then stick the end down through the last two beads. Use needle nose pliers to pull it out between two beads and cut it off so the end slides back inside the last bead and is hidden.
Alternatively, you can use a multi-strand cable type wire called Beadalon, which is much more secure. However, this type of wire will not wrap around your fastenings, and must be secured with crimp beads, which can take some practice to use. You can also choose to make your bracelet on an elastic thread. Cut a piece that is 1" less than your wrist circumference, e.g. 6", and add two inches for tying off. Thread your beads onto the elastic, and when done, tie a square knot in the two ends by passing the right one over the left and bringing it underneath, then the left over the right. Pull tightly to make a small knot. Cut ends off to 1/4" long. Place a dab of glue on the knot to secure it, then stretch the bracelet and let the knot slide up inside the last bead.