If you know me in real space you’d have to know that my favorite jewellery is pearls. I have a number of earrings, brooches, rings, necklaces, all in various forms of pearl.I wear vintage fake pearls and I have a cultured sea pearl necklace that is my utter pride and joy to wear. I have baroque pearls I bought from a pearl showroom in China and I still lament the loss of that nice earring from the pair from China too. Lets admit it. I love me some pearls.
I’ve paid to have the good necklace re-knotted twice. I even tried knotting it at home once and wore it for a while but I did a bad job on it. I looked up youtube etc but I remained baffled as to how to get the thing done properly.
Well I just did a 3 hour workshop on how to knot a pearl necklace, at Opendrawer, which is on my side of the city and not too far a drive. I wanted to do this ages ago but it was cancelled due to numbers, this time they ran it fine and me and another 7 people did the course.
You paid for tuition and materials. And I ended up buying some extra pearls and the tweezers, gonna do myself a pinky purple pearl necklace. Yes. Yes I am.
We all got a little parcel of goodies. Needles, a strand of freshwater ‘potato pearls’, silk thread, silver gimp, a clasp.
Pearl beading needles are superfine twists of metal with a tiny collapsible eye. I am going to lose mine so fast.
We learned all the things that a youtube/tutorial don’t tell you. The hints and tips were excellent, the tutor was awesome. Thread types, what you can use, what the pros and cons of things are. What the difference between the silk thread on the roll and the pre-needled threads are – I had bought some of this and had no idea how to use it. How much thread to use. How much longer a necklace gets by knotting it. etc.
The thing I found when trying to teach myself this stuff is it’s really not intuitive what you need to do and so I failed. I’ve done beading before – on tigertail wire, with crimping beads to hold everything together. That’s easy. But never on thread like this.
We were taught what you had to do to check to see if your thread size was right for the holes in your beads/pearls. There are two tests and I honestly would never have understood from a written explanation! I’m not going to write one here, sorry. I can’t…you have to give it a go.
We then found out about the first four/last four pearls rule – and we started our beading.
First four pearls waiting for the fun to begin:
Using the ‘gimp’ – the coiled wire at the end, that goes around each bit of clasp, passing the needle and thread back through, and doing the first simple knot. I used a teeny bit too much gimp, I will know better next time.
Each knot in that first four is a holding knot, and gets a dab of nail polish to keep it in line. and the last one gets the trailing thread cut off
The rest of the pearls are knotted using an overhand/grip with tweezers/push to tighten/next pearl to tighten technique that was incredibly easy once you got into it that I don’t have a photo of as it was a two handed thing. Frankly I was too involved in it to take photos.
The other thing I had never thought to do was: thread all the pearls and then knot once on the string. It was. So. Much. Easier. Than when I tried to string a necklace with knots at home.
Then the last four you do a bit of a revers of the first four, with adding the gimp/clasp, passing the needle back through. This bit was complicated, everyone managed to do ok. The tutor came and showed us what to do at this point, these are her hands.
The finished necklace! I like a shorter pearl necklace but many of the people in the class elected to go a bit longer.
I would SO recommend this course, in fact I’d recommend any course there if you’re local, or to find something in your area that shows you how to do this. It was a really relaxed atmosphere, I love learning new stuff, and for me it’s really useful.
As you can see from the photos below, when I tried to knot my good necklace at home last time, I really didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have beading needles so I had to stiffen the end with superglue to stiffen it to get it through the pearl (this was a nightmare), I used polyester beading thread, I didn’t know gimp existed, I didn’t pass the thread back through, and my knots were terrible as I didn’t know to use the pliers to clasp and pull correctly. I never felt safe wearing the necklace as I didn’t think it was well secured enough – it wasn’t!
Sometimes you just have to be shown how to do things.
Me, a cushion, a bowl of pearls, and no idea.
The cat wondered where his food was. Angus always wonders where his food is.