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Stringing Multiple Strands of Pearls


#1

Hi Folks -

I have a commission to make pearl bracelets for a bride’s four
attendants.

They will be triple strands, because, by golly, that’s the proposed
design the bride liked best. (In other words, I sold the design and
now I have to figure out how to make it work.)

Three strands of 4mm ivory freshwater pearls, close to round, but
just off enough to make them interesting.

Found the 8 mm sterling corrugated clasps she sent me photos of, but
I’m stymied because the rings on the clasps are so small that I
can’t figure out how I will be able to attach three strands.
Although I did not discuss it with the bride, I had planned to
string them on silk and knot them.

If I knot them, I know there isn’t room on that ring to attach three
bead tips, even the tiniest size.

I could add a small jump ring to each end of the clasp and attach
the bead tips, I suppose, but I am not crazy about how that looks.
Maybe a very small cone or something over the connection.

Or, should I use the pearl-reaming technique shown in Rio’s Tricord
Knotter tutorial? I even doubt that the ring is big enough to
accomodate three strands of silk wrapped in French wire, either.

Should I just give up on knotting them and just string them on
regular Soflex instead, and pretend that was my intention all along?

And, whenever I make multiple strand bracelets, I always make them
either too short or too long. Is there a rule of thumb for this?
Should all three strands be the same length?

Any advice or photos or pointers to articles about this are greatly
appreciated.

Thanks,
Linda


#2

Linda,

I have actually done this a couple of times and am, of course, full
of opinions. I use the three-strand separators, first of all, in two
places on the bracelet - sterling flat things, very smooth and
unnoticeable. I wouldn’t bother knotting them, mainly because I don’t
know how. But also, if you use three very fine strands of Softflex or
similar stringing wire, you can string a 4mm, a 3mm and a 2mm
sterling bead on the end after the last pearl, then run all three
strands through 8 seed beads, size 11 Myuki (sp), which have very
symmetrical holes (also try size 15) - 4 on each side of the clasp
ring (they won’t fit through the ring) and run the three strands back
through the sterling beads (don’t forget the crimp bead). Or use the
stuff that you cover the silk thread with - can’t remember what it’s
called and haven’t tried it with Softflex strands.

It’s tricky to get 3 strands taught and crimped. I’m not sure how
familiar you are with stringing wire. You may be more familiar than I
am.

ALSO, don’t forget to put a size 15 seed bead the same color as the
pearls or a coordinating color (I actually like to use silver-lined
clear that looks like a silver bead) between each pearl so they don’t
rub on each other - very important!

As far as length, I believe the standard length for a bracelet is 7
1/2 inches, when clasped. If any of these women are very large or
very skinny, you may want to find out tactfully. Are they big-boned
or trim? Because if anyone has a large wrist, 7 1/2 may not be
comfortable. And on a very trim, small-boned wrist, 7 1/2 is huge.
But absent any idea of their bone size, 7 1/2 is standard, I believe.

If the look you are going for is formal, use the separators to keep
the strands straight and band-like. If the look is more informal and
whimsical, I would make them all the same length, but not use the
separators and definitely 7 1/2. They could even be lightly twisted
in this configuration, which draws up the length a bit.

One other tip is a little sterling dangle heart or something like
that. It’s always a nice touch. As a good friend of mine always says,
“I love the dingle-dangle thingy. It makes it.”

I hope my 34 cents helps.
Veronica


#3

Hi Linda-

If you use #3 (or thinner) pearl silk you should be able to knot the
strands individually and then when the proper length, knot all
together (or not) and pass all three needles with silk through a
single bead tip. Tie all three into a large knot inside the tip,
glue, and close. The bead tip serves as the “small cone” in other
words. I usually make my 3 strands slightly different lengths because
they then drape in a more interesting tangly kind of way. Hope this
helps.

Pam
Good Witch Arts


#4

Hi Linda:

I’m not sure exactly what the clasp looks like, but I will give it a
shot. One idea is to cut the ring off and solder your own ring (one
that is big enough) back on. The other is to use some fancy colored
Beadalon (or Softflex) to string on and add a matte seed bead (size
11 or 15) in between each pearl to give the appearance of knotting.
Coming into a cone on each end is nice (it’s too chunky for me) so
you could see if she might want to do that. You could then use a
thinner wire to come out of the cone and into the loop and do a
wrapped loop ending. The good news is, you can charge more for a lot
of reasons. 1)it’s a special order 2) it’s a more difficult than
usual special order 3) it’s multi-strand and a lot of people charge
by the inch

Good Luck
Kim


#5
Or, should I use the pearl-reaming technique shown in Rio's
Tricord Knotter tutorial? Should I just give up on knotting them and
just string them on regular Soflex instead, 

I do all my pearl work on silk, with french wire (bullion) covering
the silk at the clasp. To do this you need to drill out 2 or three
pearls for each end of each strand so you can double back, knot, and
bury the tails. I assume that’s what the tutorial shows, although I
don’t use the knotter.

If the clasp ring is too small to hold all the strands covered in
bullion, and she’s stuck on those clasps, I’d be inclined to go with
the jump ring. If you use wire, you are going to have to use crimps
(I’ve never had success with knotting). This isn’t going to look any
better than the jumpring with a nice professional finish.

I’d use 0.14 SoftTouch which has a much better drape, not SoftFlex.
I only use SoftFlex for big, heavy beads that might cut through.

As for length, unless you know sizes, I’d make them all 8".

Chris L. (amateur)
Chris Lehmkuhl


#6

Hello Linda,

Can you graduate your pearls down toward the clasp? They will take
up less space and give you more options.

Judy in Kansas


#7

Hi Linda!

What I’d do: First – I’d try to convince the bride that she would
be happier with a small, three-ring tube clasp. The strands will be
held slightly apart and the bracelet will appear wider (more
expensive?). She may appreciate your recommendation, as she herself
is probably not a designer. (hmmm, but, she is a BRIDE… just don’t
upset her!)

If not: Using the 8 mm clasp she selected: attach one small jump
ring to each side of clasp. Attach three small jump rings to each of
these. Then use one bead tip per jump ring. Then the strands will
fan out naturally and can swivel nicely.

Yes! Knot the pearls on silk as planned – the bracelets will feel &
look much nicer and more fluid.

(Other: Don’t know what the reaming technique you refer to is… I
personally don’t like the look of the cones, but maybe that’s just
me… and yes, I would think strands should be the same length.)

C. Rose
(terrified of brides, in Houston, TX)


#8
Other: Don't know what the reaming technique you refer to is... 

Traditional pearl finishing. You take 6 pearls and enlarge the hole
so that it will take a doubled-back thread. String three onto the
silk, then the bullion, then the clasp. Needle back through the 3rd
pearl, knot, 2nd pearl, knot, 1st pearl, and knot. You now have your
clasp attached and the first three pearls done, with nice secure
knots to hold that end. Leave the tail for now.

String the rest of your pearls, pull each up and knot against the
first three (one at a time, of course). When you get your length
complete less 3 pearls, string the other three with big holes, your
bullion, and other end of the clasp. Needle through the last pearl,
knot, next to last, knot, and 2nd from last. Cut tails, give the end
knots a bit of GX hypo glue if you are nervous.

Your final strand is totally professional looking: clasp, bullion
covered silk right into the first pearls at either end. I do my
knotting with a needle nosed tweezer. Even I can do this, and I’m a
rank amateur.


#9

Linda,

What is the bracelet going to look like in the end, what is your
design?

If you or the bride had chosen a clasp that is specifically made for
a 3 strands you could have then used the flat spacers to separate
the strands so they are all nice and tidy in a row, no problem.
Clean look, very sophisticated.

It sounds like the chosen clasp is really for a one stranded piece.
With that said, the end look will be very different. In the past I
have added small jump rings to the single clasp and it has worked,
the end result is kind of a “bunchy” free form look which is also
nice. In my opinion, with this look, the spacers will not work, look
right or lay properly. You can not make a 'bunchy, free form triple
strand" look sophisticated with spacers.

Gosh, I hope I said that right. Both looks are great. It depends on
what the bride wants the end result to look like.

French wire gives the ends more of a finished look, no question, but
if the pearl holes are not large enough for the string to go back
though then you will have to use bead cups, try to get the smaller
ones so they do not show up as readily.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me off line.

Good luck,
Laurie


#10
I have a commission to make pearl bracelets for a bride's four
attendants. ... Three strands of 4mm ivory freshwater pearls, close
to round, but just off enough to make them interesting. 
Found the 8 mm sterling corrugated clasps... the rings on the
clasps are so small that I can't figure out how I will be able to
attach three strands.... If I knot them, I know there isn't room on
that ring to attach three bead tips, even the tiniest size. 

These are special bracelets for a formal occasion and bead tips
don’t fit with that. I know, lots of people use bead tips, but unless
they’re to finish off thread-cutting crystal bracelets strung on wire
or the beads are so heavy that French wire wouldn’t hold up, bead
tips always look clunky to me (especially so when the pearls are so
delicate).

I could add a small jump ring to each end of the clasp and attach
the bead tips, I suppose, but I am not crazy about how that looks.
Maybe a very small cone or something over the connection. 

Maybe. I’ve seen some small wide cones in the Rio catalog, or maybe
even a bead cap would work – something that matches and continues
the look of the clasp. Since the three strands will be bunching into
one, maybe the strands could be braided (again, I’m thinking formal)
or twisted so the “bunching” at the ends makes sense.

Or, there are connecting bars with a single ring on one side and
three (or more) on the other. Not sure that would work with an 8mm
corrugated clasp, but it’s an idea.

Or, should I use the pearl-reaming technique shown in Rio's
Tricord Knotter tutorial? I even doubt that the ring is big enough
to accomodate three strands of silk wrapped in French wire, either. 

You could make the holes a little bigger but you’re starting with
such small pearls, there’s not much room for reaming.

One trick when the ring is so small is to use two pieces of French
wire instead of the usual single piece that loops through the ring.
One little piece of French wire sits on one side of the ring, only
the thread goes through, and then the second piece of French wire is
on the other side. It’s such a tiny area that once it’s all pulled
tightly, it looks like the French wire is going through the loop and,
since there’s not much movement of the thread against the ring, the
thread is somewhat protected.

Should I just give up on knotting them and just string them on
regular Soflex instead, and pretend that was my intention all
along? 

Normally I use doubled silk thread and knots and french wire for
pearls and most beads, except for very small ones. Any beads smaller
than 5mm can be overwhelmed by the knots. So I don’t think it’s a
matter of giving up on anything, just looking again and making
creative adjustments (and yes that was your intention all along!).
How about using silver wire to string the pearls on, instead of using
thread and French wire? With a bracelet you don’t have to worry about
graceful draping the way you do with a necklace. And wire would make
your finishing off easier and more secure.

And, whenever I make multiple strand bracelets, I always make them
either too short or too long. Is there a rule of thumb for this?
Should all three strands be the same length? 

Yes, for this project, I think, but on second thought maybe it would
help make bunching the ends easier if the middle strand was a pearl
or two longer than the others. If the strands are twisted, then make
them a little longer to accommodate the depth. The best thing is to
try a prototype on before finishing off.

Any advice or photos or pointers to articles about this are
greatly appreciated. 

It’s an interesting project, not nearly as straightforward as it
probably seemed at first. Good luck with it! I’d love to see a photo
of the finished product.

Debra,
in NYC


#11

Have you considered using a 3-to-1 end bar? Then you just connect
the 1 loop to the clasp.

Jenny
Insomniac Beads