Sunday, January 11, 2009


Sometimes, you just can't help but buy ridiculous materials, such as a full strand of 55mm Christmas Agate beads.  Sometimes, if you get lucky, you can actually use those ridiculous materials effectively.

55mm Round "Christmas" Agate Disc Beads - Brazil/China
Brass lathe milled barrels - Unknown Origin
Red glass/silver lined "Pony" beads - Czech Republic
Antique Gold finished pewter toggle

Stringing Material - Black Satin 1/4 Inch Ribbon


Big-Eye Needle
Crazy Glue
Tri-Cord Knotting Tool
Bodkin Needle

I walking into Leekan Designs about 2 years ago, and saw these lucious and ludicrous agate beads, and I had to have them.  Each one weighs about 4 ounces, and a mere four beads means a pound of stone around the neck, but that didn't stop me.   I didn't have a problem conceptualizing the necklace I wanted to make, but finding the right stringing material was problematic.  I had a spool of gimp, a type of wrapped yarn that I thought would work, since it had multiple plies.  Unfortunately, it was much too delicate (which proves that it's not how many plies there are, it's how strong each individual one is).  I had the same problem with a very small diameter rattail cord.  Leather was a possibility, but it ended up being too stretchy.

The other problem I had was how to get the thread through the agates.  Rattail, leather and gimp were all too heavy to be doubled and used with a needle. When I tried the gimp, I applied Crazy Glue to an inch of the thread, to create a self-needle.  That worked for one bead, and when I encountered an irregular hole on the second big bead, the whole "needle" collapsed.  When searching for another alternative, I came across a spool of narrow satin ribbon (100% polyester), which was a perfect solution.  The ribbon had no stretch in it, and since it could be crushed and spring back without any significant deterioration, I was able to string the beads using a Big-Eye needle.

The necklace is finished in the usual way, except no French wire, and I used "Fray-Check" instead of Hypocement to finish off the ends of the ribbon.

Materials Cost:  $35.00
Time to Complete:  3 hours (including experimenting with various stringing materials)
Difficulty:  3 out of 5