Friday, October 26, 2012

Stringing Pearls

I have a confession to make, a very serious confession for a southern girl. I do not like pearls. I think they can be quite pretty on others, but they just look so weird on me. Perhaps I will change my mind in a few decades, but for now pearls are not for me.

Or at least that was what I thought before obsessing over a 47" strand of irregular black pearls. The necklace was listed at a starting bid of $10 so I figured "eh, why not?" and placed my bid. A few days later, the seller cancelled my bid and took the necklace off ebay. I was so disappointed! Ever since, long strands of black pearls have been catching my eye but none have been within a price range that I am willing to pay just to test out a new look.

I came across this website and found 9-10mm black rice shaped pearls at $8.97 for a 15 inch strand. I ordered four strands :)

pearls, silk cord, certificate of authenticity 

I watched this youtube video to learn how to string pearls (since youtube has the answer for everything) but came up with a better solution given the tools at my disposal (i.e. tweezers instead of that funky looking thing).

I would not suggest you use this method on good pearls. I frequently hit a pearl with the tweezers. I was not worried about damaging my pearls because the surfaces are already not perfect, but it would be very sad to scratch an expensive high quality pearl.

It took me about 90 minutes to figure out how to tie the knots close enough to the pearls and to string the first 15 inches. Since my time is currently worth $0/hr, I figure I am doing pretty good on cost.

beading needles are apparently
thin wire segments
Things you need:
Pearls - make sure they have holes drilled
Silk cord, already threaded with a beading needle - see picture on right
Tweezers, angled and good condition so they close tightly
Good vision
I wanted my necklace to be a continuous strand with no clasp. To do this, tie your first knot at the non-needled end of the cord. I used a normal knot where you loop the thread in through itself. You know, a normal knot. Ok so you have your first knot. Now slide three pearls onto the cord and leave some extra space and then tie a second knot. Put another pearl on the cord right up next to that second knot.

This is what the knots and pearl set should look like.
Not all my sets looked this good. I left some gaps.
Here comes the tricky part. You want to sandwich the pearl between two knots as closely as possible. Play around with it and see what method works best for you. I found that tweezers helped me the most.

The tweezers should be closer to the pearl. This picture
shows what I mean by "part of the cord coming out
of the pearl."
To use my method, start your knot but leave it pretty loose. Place your tweezers on the part of the cord that is coming out of the pearl. Pinch the cord as close as possible to the pearl. Now slowly and very carefully pull the other end of the cord to tighten your knot, making sure that it is tightening right next to the tweezers.

 When you tighten the knot so much that you can't go any tighter with the tweezers in the way, you must somehow remove the tweezers while finishing off the knot. I am impatient so I kind of just yanked it around, which is probably why I have some gaps between my pearls. Again, play around with it and find out what works best for you.

Once you reach the desired length, it is time to finish it off without a clasp. I threaded my cord through the first two of the original three pearls (the ones with no knots between them) and tied a knot between pearl two and three. Then I threaded my cord through pearl two and did the same thing: tied a knot between pearl one and two. Then I threaded my cord through pearl one and again, tied a knot between pearl one and the last pearl. Thin cord will make this easier than thicker cord. Also, you will have the end of the cord hanging from the location of your last knot. Just tie it off and cut as you feel comfortable.

It took me about four hours to complete the necklace. I didn't make it to 60" because I was bored and decided that 50something" was good enough. The length of silk cord that I purchased was just long enough to comfortably complete my necklace. It may take you more or less time depending on your desired length and level of perfection. Good luck and let me know what strategies work for you!

Completed necklace. I have no idea where the body thing came from. Mom just randomly
placed it in my room while I was off at MIT.