Guest Post by Diana Norman

Some jewelry designers have a love/hate relationship with seed beads. They love to utilize them, but hate the monotony of stringing them. Then came the Bead Spinner, a great little tool that uses centrifugal force and a J shaped needle to glide your seed beads onto your stringing material. This was mostly used by bead weavers and bead stitchers, as beading wire is too flexible to withstand the forces of the bead spinner, and too bulky to be doubled through a needle and go through a seed bead at the same time.

If you don't have a Bead Spinner and you work with seed beads regularly, you're really missing out. If you need some more convincing, you can try this free makeshift spinner tutorial or watch this free video. When you are ready to take the plunge, the original hardwood spinner can be found here; but if that is outside of your budget, economy spinners can be purchased from (they even offer a coupon code INDIE for extra savings). If you need to order some beads as well, you can save some cash on shipping by picking up the new "Speedy Stringer" from Fire Mountain Gems.

I use seed beads in a lot of my pieces, but my work demands the use of beading wire, such as Soft Flex, because of it's strength, flexibility, and ease of finishing. Wire and crimps are much more secure than a knotted piece of nylon or silk; necklaces containing pendants or heavier beads hold their shape better, and there are no worries about crystals or gemstones cutting through the stringing material. But the wire's flexibility was holding it back from being useful with a spinner.

The people at Soft Flex have a special needle to be used with their beading wire. At $5.95 each, the Soft Flex/ Soft Touch Speeder Beader Needle comes in the normal calibrated sizes and two lengths to fit wire from .10 to .24 inch thickness. It has a hollow core, with an easy to load "pan" to glide the wire into the needle. It doesn't just have to be used with seed beads, I know there have been a few times I've been perplexed by a pesky hollow bead.

The Soft Flex company doesn't have curved needles available, but the needles shouldn't be too hard to use with any bead spinner. Until now, I have been stringing beads onto my curved needle and pulling them off an inch at a time to load them with the holes lined up onto my beading wire. Tedious, yes, but not as tiresome as one at a time . I cut my stringing time down to less than half. These needles should cut my time down even more. These have been available for a few years, but I only recently found them while browsing. I can't wait until they come in the mail.

I was actually playing with my bead spinner a few days ago, and I found I like straight needles a little better. I think it has to do with the "angle of needle attack." The other day, the curved end of the needle just wasn't picking anything up. I think the trick is using the curved needle if you like to drag along the bottom, and straight needle if you have more of a "hover" style. It might also have to do with the amount of beads you spin. You achieve the best results if the container is at least 1/3 full, and I find that at less than half full I like the curved needle, and at more than half I like to use the straight needle. But this is all personal preference, and you'll just have to experiment to find your preferred needle style.
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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