I just recently started stringing pearls on silk and using French
coils next to the clasp. I encountered a number of difficulties, to
which I found my own solutions.
I used a single thickness of silk (the most appropriate size to go
through the hole in the pearls) and (with much difficulty at first)
threaded a fine beading needle. The last three pearls on each end
were drilled out further for the silk to run back through them.
However, because the silk was threaded through an ordinary beading
needle, it was doubled for a short distance, and so the thread had
to be a narrow enough gauge to allow for that. As such, when knotting
between the pearls, the knots were slipping into the holes, and so I
decided to do two knots. I tried to do a French knot where you make
two loops and put the work through them both, but they wouldn’t
tighten neatly. So I just did two knots. However, the difficulty with
that is that no matter how careful you are to do the second knot on
top of the first knot, it can at some point, and with little force,
pull off the first knot, so that you end up with the knots side by
side, with them once again going inside the pearls, and with a
resultant space between two pearls which is too big. My solution was
to do the first not next to the pearl, but not pulling it tightly
against the pearl. Then I did the second knot by making sure that
the loop was between the first knot and the pearl. When pulled tight,
it sat nicely over the first knot, but would not pull off.
The French wire (or gimp as it’s called in the UK - not sure why)
posed its own problems. I found that I had to loupe the cut ends to
make sure that I had cut it cleanly, as sometimes my flush cutters
would bend the end of the wire into the opening of the French wire.
So I’d have to cut it again until the opening was clean. Also, I
probably purchased it with too small a hole and so I had great
difficulty actually getting the eye of the needle with its doubled
silk to go through it. It would regularly just unravel down the silk
as I tried to thread it. So I kept having to untangle it, cut
another piece and try again. In the end, the only way I could do it
was to pull the silk almost out of the needle, so that just a couple
of millimeters of silk were doubled, then it would thread
In the end, I managed to iron out all my problems, and made a few
really neat pieces which hung beautifully, running up to Christmas.
I’ll try French wire with a larger diameter next time, and I may try
using the silk as a needle itself, so that I don’t have to do two
knots, and I’m sure that will give an even better result. I did find
it very therapeutic though, and something I’ll be doing again.