Monday, November 3, 2014

Mistake of the Month Mondays: The Stretched Out Necklace

One of the first necklaces I ever made for myself, this started out as a vintage 12.5" chocker that was too small for even my scrawny neck.  To make it functional, I supplemented the onyx with black glass (an unscrupulous vendor told me it was black onyx and I didn't know the difference) and large contemporary onyx.  I hand strung and knotted the beads on double-stranded black silk.  I loved the graphic interest introduced by the natural onyx's white quartzile streaks.  Being black, this was a great everyday piece for work.  I wore it a lot--or at least I did until it stretched out.

Textile-strung necklaces do stretch out and periodically need restringing. The heavier the beads, the more frequently the necklace will need restringing.  However, on the production side of jewelry-making, you can reduce the frequency your clients' beads need restringing by: 
  1. Using silk.  It has the greatest tensile properties of all the available textiles. FFF-sized silk, for example, has a 15 pound test strength.
  2. Giving your silk thread a really good, thorough, strong tug before using it.  This gets rid of its stretch before you start adding beads. 
  3. Using the right size thread.  The silk should fully fill the bead hole.  What if the bead hole is huge and even FFF-sized thread won't fill it?  String on chain or add more thread! When given the choice I typically prefer to string on silk to keep my beads from knocking together. Thus, when even double-stranded FFF silk won't do the job, I simply start adding more strands of silk until the hole is filled. Usually I don't need to add more than 1-2 strands, but I am perfectly open to adding more if needed.
  4. Make sure your knots are very, very tight.

On the user's end, the need for restringing can be reduced by:
  1. Always storing textile-strung necklaces flat, in a box.  Do not hang the necklace from a hook, as I did with this piece.  The heavier the beads, the  more important it is to follow this advice. 
  2. Never hang heavy objects from the necklace. Small children count as heavy objects.
  3. Keeping the thread dry.  If thread does become wet, lay the necklace flat to dry.  Wait until the silk is completely dry (usually a full day or two) before wearing the necklace again.

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