The Basics of Bead Stringing

By Debbie Kanan
Bourget Bros., $8.95, 2001
(800) 828-3024 or

Which book is the best? The most frequently asked question that I hear at bead shows is what would be an ideal introduction for beginners to ease gently into bead stringing? A substantial amount of such books are on the market, each with their own pluses and minuses. However, this 2001 revised edition has my heartfelt thumbs up as the prime candidate and not just because it’s priced less than $10.00. What grabs my attention and approval is the organization from basic techniques, including design fundamentals (a detail after my heart), towards more complex finishing details. A basic strung necklace, ending with simple bead tips, is the first project. A detailed section immediately follows for creating a hand-knotted necklace with either single or double thread techniques. Bead stringing is polished off with the finishing techniques of a continuous necklace or adding clasps with jump rings, French wire, or clam shells. Helpful hints are sprinkled throughout to make the assembly easier; with virtually every step illustrated with neatly rendered drawings. Very nicely done!

Although the book’s title suggests that bead stringing is the only concern, the next chapter leads into wire techniques, beginning with basic earrings composed with head or eye pins to memory wire jewelry to wire-wrapping around baroque stones for pendants. Wire techniques bring the novice into the ever-expanding jewelry potential with multi-stranded necklaces and the wire manipulation required to finish them within metal cones. Subsequent short chapters focus on using leather or satin cord, then touch lightly on seed bead techniques such as daisy chain, brick stitch, and peyote stitch. The grand culmination of this book is a splendid little chapter on materials and tools that describes all the goodies available, their uses and possible drawbacks–including a few items I hadn’t heard of before (the industry keeps growing by leaps and bounds). Again, very nicely done. The book does not have any specific projects, but does feature 8 color pages of inspiration, plus the cover. If you don’t own this book, why not? For a beginner, it is indispensable as a primer; for the experienced artisan, it is invaluable as a reference.