Glossary of Beading Terms

Techniques

Anneal

Anneal

Annealing is the process whereby a material is heated and then slowly cooled to make it stronger and more pliable. This is particularly useful for strengthening metal wire so it is softer to work with. Lampwork beads are also annealed to prevent the glass from shattering.

Backstitch

Backstitch

The running back stitch is a basic stitch often used to add beads to fabric. Both easy and durable, it can be used for a small embellishment or to cover an entire area with an elaborate design.

Bead Embroidery

Bead Embroidery

Bead embroidery is technique for adding beads to fabric using traditional embroidery stitches. Beads can be used as embellishments on an incredible array of items from garments to shoes to home decor.

Braid

Braid

A method of weaving strands of material together by folded them over one another in an alternating pattern. Wire, cord, or leather can be braided to make jewelry. photo credit

Flux

Flux is a liquid or paste used in soldering metal surfaces together (to make jewelry, among other things) and in annealing. It lowers the working temperature which aids bonding and protects the surface by reducing oxidation.

Gauge

Gauge is a measurement of the thickness of something, be it beads, wire, thread, or needles. Generally, smaller numbers indicate thicker sizes. Wire gauges ranges from 10 (very thick) to 28 (very thin). Seed bead gauges are written as fractions, like 6/0 (~3.7mm) to 15/0 (~1.5mm). Size 11/0 seed beads are the most common. Thread does not have a standard gauging system, leaving each manufacturer to invent their own.

Half Hitch

The half hitch is a simple knot and is useful in a varity of situations, like carrying light loads. Usually it is a component in many more complicated knots, but when done alone it’s usually done twice (as in tying off the ends of a knot you don’t want to come undone). To tie a half hitch knot you would drape your string (or rope, etc.) over a stationary object, like your finger, or a stick, and then loop one end of the string around itself and back over itself through what is now the loop created with the previous steps.

Half Knot

A half-knot is half of a square knot that is tied around one or more filler cords. See our tutorial for instructions.

Hammered

Hammered

A technique used when making jewelry to distress metal, or create a bent, wavy, or flattened effect. Hammering hardens wire and can shape and add texture to it. Hammering is performed with a ball pein hammer on a small jeweler’s anvil. It is a good idea to wear protective eyewear while you work. Hammering is an effective way to harden handmade earwires so they do not bend when used.

Loomwork

Beadwork can be done by hand, but a bead loom makes it faster and easier. Small wire ones are inexpensive and can be purchased at bead stores. For larger projects, you can make your own out of wood.

Macrame

Macrame

A technique of knotting cords that produces a rough lace-like fabric. Believed to be Arabic in origin. The basic knots are the half hitch, full hitch, square knot, and double half hitch. Check out our tutorial to learn these knots.

Solder

Solder

Soldering is a method of joining metal surfaces via melting a fusible metal alloy to connect them. Here is a good tutorial on jewelry soldering.

Stop Bead

A seed bead used in beadweaving to keep your first row of beads in place when you start your piece. Instead of knotting the thread, you secure the stop bead by passing thread through it several times, and then remove it later when you have completed the beadwork.

Wingspan

A length of thread that is the distance between your two arms outstretched.