I shall be honest and admit that I am a bit of a stickler for using the best quality products when it comes to making jewellery. You kind of have to be if you’re marketing couture, bespoke jewellery. You certainly don’t want your masterpiece to fall to pieces once it has left the soft feathered nest of the workshop. Unhappy customers are never repeat customers, and furthermore they can damage your reputation if they give you poor feedback. So, when I buy a product that claims to be the best on the market, I expect it to be just that.
For some years now I have been using a Japanese manufactured thread for all of my bead weaving designs. The Japanese have a reputation for manufacturing the highest quality beads and threading materials, and as such the extra cost is worth every penny. Usually.
The threading medium I use is a product known as ‘K.O.’. It is tough, durable, non-fraying, and pre-waxed, unlike many of the other main brands of threading mediums, which when you are doing complex weaving projects that require a decent length of starting thread perform terribly and can lead to a lot of hair pulling and frustration due to fraying and knotting. ‘K.O’ thread also comes in several different colours, a comprehensive enough colour palette to suit most projects.
Don’t misunderstand me however, I love ‘K.O’ thread, it is still the best threading medium out there. However, three times lately while working on a couple of bracelets the thread has snapped while I was attaching clasps no less, usually the finishing touch. It happened to me last night again while I was finishing a bracelet for my daughter, with the thread breaking off in mid button sewing, twice, thus leaving it unsecured. Now, you might think that simply re-threading and finishing the job would be enough, however, with size 11 seed beads and peyote weave, each bead has a limited capacity for thread. With a size 11 peyote weave I always use a double thread and a size 12 needle (a size 13 needle is more likely to snap with ‘K.O.’ thread), so at the most you might get 3, perhaps 4 passes, at a push before the needle jams, or worse still, the bead breaks. Believe me, I’ve had that happen often enough that when my thread snaps, as it did last night, I begin to sweat and worry that I might just have to start the whole project again.
It’s interesting that this has only happened at the end of projects when the thread has already undergone a lot of stress. I have also noticed that it has only happened with two of the colours, purple and gold. Now, despite the fact that I haven’t experienced this phenomenon with any of the other colours, remembering to re-wax the thread with a small block of beeswax at regular intervals is always important. It not only helps tighten the work, but it keeps the thread conditioned and stops it fraying. Yes, even this wonder thread will begin to fray eventually with enough twisting and pulling through the work, though like I said, it out-performs other mediums in that respect.
The overworking of the thread is possibly what’s been occurring, causing it to snap at the crucial moment. However, what I’ve noticed about the purple and gold thread in particular is that they seem not to have the same integrity as the other colours. They are somehow not as tough, and this seems to be true with every new spool. It could be my imagination, but I just haven’t had the issue of snapping with the other colours. In fact, as the product suggests, it seems nigh on impossible to snap them at all.
The other downside with using ‘K.O.’ thread is that it isn’t possible to use a fusing tool to fuse end threads, so it pays to rework the thread into the beadwork in order to secure it and prevent the weave from becoming loose and unravelling. Using a needle heated in a flame, with extreme caution of course, and heat-proof gloves, you can indeed fuse this thread, but it isn’t a convenient thing to do. The fusing tools, incidentally, just don’t get hot enough to melt the fibres.
I shall continue to use this wonderful thread simply because it is still the best threading medium out there currently, but perhaps beginning with a new thread before affixing clasps and buttons, or other embellishments is the answer. It’s a nuisance and risk to do that, because of the tension that the extra thread puts into the work, but ultimately it might just prevent disasters from occurring.