by Sandra Lupo, Jewelry Designer and Instructor, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
French wire or buillion is a finely woven coil of sterling silver, "vermeil" or gold-filled wire. Choose a size that suits the size thread and bead hole of the beads in your design (you don't want to lose the French wire inside the bead).
This technique is designed for use with silk thread with a thread needle formed on the end.
A fishhook style clasp is traditionally used in hand-knotted strands of pearls. For whichever style of clasp you prefer, having one with a soldered loop or ring on the end is helpful when working with French wire as it stays in place and doesn't pull through like it would with a ring with a seam, or a jumpring.
Using fine pointed scissors, cut two 3/8 inch lengths of French wire.
Thread the French wire onto a prepared silk thread needle.
Gently ease the French wire to 2 inches from the end loop of the silk thread. Thread on the loop or ring on the end of the clasp.
Pass the thread needle through the end loop in the thread and position the French wire at the place where the thread loop meets itself.
Gently hold the loop with French wire and clasp with your dominant fingers, and with your other hand, slowly pull the long length of thread. The French wire eases up and through the clasp ring to form a cover over the thread.
You are now ready to string on the beads in your design and hand knot in between each.
After the last two beads are strung, add a 3/8 inch length of French wire and the loop or ring on other side of the clasp.
Pass the thread needle through the last bead. Gently pull the thread through and ease the French wire and clasp up against the last bead.
Form a knot between the two last beads.
Flip the strand over to make a second knot on the other side. Add a dab of adhesive to the knots only (not the pearls).
After a short drying time (few minutes), use a fine pointed scissor to trim the excess threads close to the knot. Use an awl to tamp the thread ends as close to the knot as possible. Let dry thoroughly.
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