Have you ever used SmartBeads with “BPS”? If you have, you probably love them as much as we do. SmartBeads with “Bead Positioning System” are positional beads that are silicone lined. The lining allows the beads to grip various stringing materials and keep adjacent stringing components in place.
But SmartBeads do have a few limitations. They are only available in sterling silver and gold filled; and as with most specialty items, they are kind of pricey. SmartBeads are the perfect choice if you are working with precious metal, but what if you are working with base metals?
You can easily make your own base-metal positional beads from rubber wire keepers and crimp covers. Homemade positional beads will work with the following materials:
- beading chain (cardano chain)
- beading wire
- jewelry wire
- head pins and eye pins
- hat pins
- needle-end silk cord
Because the wire keeper has a tiny hole, softer stringing materials like leather and cotton cord are not recommended. However, you can enlarge the hole with a bead reamer (surprisingly this is an easy task), and then they will work just fine.
Follow these steps to make your own positional beads:
You will need the following supplies:
- #33-960 White Rubber Earring Backs, Wire Keeper
- Crimp covers (I used item #48-285-48-1 White Plated Crimp Cover, 4.8mm.)
You will need just a few tools:
- Item #65-012 EURO TOOL Mighty Crimper Jewelry Pliers
- Item #69-043 Scissors, Extra-Large Loop
- Heavy-gauge head pin or wire (I used Item #37-433-2 Plated Head Pin, 3″, Heavy.)
EURO TOOL® Mighty Crimper Jewelry Pliers
Designed for crimping larger-sized crimp beads, the “Mighty Crimper” crimping pliers are also handy for closing crimp covers!
Use sharp scissors to cut a white rubber wire keeper in half. Wire keepers are usually used on the back of earring hooks to prevent accidental loss of earrings. The small hole and flexible rubber material makes them the perfect material for homemade positional beads.
If you are using a 5.5mm crimp cover, you can use a full-sized wire keeper.
String the half-sized wire keeper on to your stringing material (for demonstration purposes I am working on a 20-gauge head pin).
Insert the half-sized wire keeper into a base-metal crimp cover.
Use the large, rounded part of the “Mighty Crimper” pliers’ jaw to close the crimp cover over the half-sized wire keeper. Pivot the crimp cover in the jaw and squeeze from a few positions until it is fully closed and rounded.
The homemade smart bead is ready for use in jewelry making.
Similar to SmartBeads, you can slide the homemade positional bead along the stringing material to reposition it.
Positional bead in use. The loosely strung beads on a hat pin are held securely in place.