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3 ways to string heishi beads

Bold African beads translate into multiple style options
3 ways to string heishi beads

These vinyl heishi beads are certainly different: they’re super bright and skinny as sequins. But if you string them in color-blocked rows, these spacer-like beads take on a totally stylish look. Try them in a bib necklace, a long simple strand, or a memory wire cuff for colorful additions to your wardrobe.

Read the instructions below, or download the free project PDF above.

What you’ll need

Bib necklace 18 in. (46 cm)

  • 38–44 in. (.94–1.1 m) 6 mm heishi beads: 15–18 in. (38–46 cm) in color A, 5–8 in. (13–20 cm) in color B, 7 1/2 in. (19.1 cm) in color C, 10 in. (25 cm) in color D
  • 4 in. (10 cm) 4 mm heishi beads in color E
  • 28 3 mm spacers
  • flexible beading wire, .014 or .015
  • 15–20 mm five-to-one connector
  • 14 crimp beads
  • toggle clasp
  • chainnose or crimping pliers
  • diagonal wire cutters

Single-strand necklace 25 in. (64 cm)

  • 23–26 in. (58–66 cm) 6 mm heishi beads, in four colors
  • 2–3 in. (5–7.6 cm) 4 mm heishi beads, in a fifth color
  • 4 3 mm spacers
  • flexible beading wire, .014 or .015
  • 2 crimp beads
  • lobster claw clasp
  • 15–20 mm soldered ring or link
  • chainnose or crimping pliers
  • diagonal wire cutters

Cuff

  • 14–28 in. (36–71 cm) 6 mm heishi beads, in four colors
  • 4–7 in. (10–18 cm) 4 mm heishi beads, in a fifth color
  • 2 3 mm spacers
  • memory wire, 2 1⁄4-in. (5.7 cm) diameter
  • roundnose pliers
  • heavy–duty wire cutters

Heishi beads from Rings & Things, 800.366.2156, rings-things.com. Five-to-one connector in bib necklace from Stones & Findings, 416.628.8550, stonesandfindings.com. Check your local bead store for supplies.

Instructions
3 ways to string heishi beads bib 1 4

Bib necklace

1. Cut a 12-in. (30 cm) strand of beading wire. Cut four more strands, each 1/2 in. (1.3 cm) longer than the previous wire. On the shortest wire, center 1/2 in. (1.3 cm) of 6 mm heishi beads in color A. On each subsequent wire, center color A’s in the following lengths: 3/4 in. (1.9 cm), 1 in. (2.5 cm), 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm), 1 1⁄2 in. (3.8 cm).

2. On each end of each wire, string three 4 mm heishi beads in color E followed by 1⁄2 in. (1.3 cm) of 6 mm heishi beads in color B.

3. On each end of each wire, string three 4 mms followed by 1⁄2–3⁄4 in. (1.3–1.9 cm) of 6 mm heishi beads in color C.

4. On each end of each wire, string three 4 mms followed by 1–1 1⁄4 in. (2.5–3.2 cm) of 6 mm heishi beads in color D. On each end of each wire, string a spacer, a crimp bead, a spacer, and the corresponding loop of a five-to-one connector.

Tip!

Tapering

Check the drape of the bib strands often to see how the color-blocked sections sit. If any of the strands are too long or too short, adjust the length of the color D sections by adding or removing heishi beads from each end of each strand.

3 ways to string heishi beads bib 5
3 ways to string heishi beads bib 6

5. Go back through the beads just strung and tighten the wire. Check the drape, and add or remove beads from each end if necessary. Crimp the crimp beads and trim the excess wire. This is the bib.

6. Cut an 11–17 in. (28–43 cm) piece of beading wire. String a spacer, a crimp bead, a spacer, and the remaining loop of one of the bib’s connectors. Go back through the beads just strung, tighten the wire, and crimp the crimp bead. String 4 1⁄2–7 in. (11.4–18 cm) of color A’s. Repeat on the other side.

3 ways to string heishi beads bib 7

7. On each end, string a spacer, a crimp bead, a spacer, and half of a toggle clasp. Check the fit, and add or remove beads if necessary. Go back through the beads just strung and tighten the wire. Crimp the crimp bead and trim the excess wire.

3 ways to string heishi beads single strand 1 3

Single-strand necklace

1. Cut a piece of beading wire. String 15 to 17 1 1⁄2-in. (3.8 cm) sections of 6 mm heishi beads in three colors, alternating with three 4 mm heishi beads, until the necklace is the desired length.

2. On one end, string a spacer, a crimp bead, a spacer, and a lobster claw clasp. Check the fit and add or remove beads if necessary.  Go back through the beads just strung and tighten the wire. Crimp the crimp bead and trim the excess wire.

3. Repeat step 2 on the other end of the necklace, substituting a soldered ring or link for the clasp.

3 ways to string heishi beads cuff 1 2

Cuff

1. Using heavy-duty wire cutters, cut a three- to four-coil piece of memory wire. Use roundnose pliers to make a loop on one end.

2. On the wire, string a spacer. String 1⁄2-in. (1.3 cm) sections of 6 mm heishi beads in four colors, alternating with 4 mm heishi beads, until the bracelet is the desired length. String a spacer, make a loop, and trim the excess memory wire.

Tip!

Counting cues

If you were to count out heishi beads for precise color-blocked sections, you’d be there all day! Instead, pull sections of beads from the strand and string them on the wire all at once. Make note of about how long of a section you grab; for me, it was natural to draw about a 1/2-in. (1.3 cm) section of beads each time.

FIND MORE: beads , stringing , necklaces , bracelets

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