Traditional Bead Knotting

Bead jewelry
Verdina Anna / Getty Images
  • 01 of 06

    Introduction

    Knotting Between Beads
    Knotting Between Beads. Tammy Powley

    Most pearl necklaces are knotted using a traditional technique. Though it is a little more difficult than the cheater’s way, it is not impossible to learn, and it will add an extra finished look to just about any beaded necklace or bracelet you make. As with most jewelry techniques, the more you practice, the better you will become. The most difficult part of traditional knotting is getting the knot snug up against the bead.

    I only knot occasionally. So, I’ve developed a way to knot using either...MORE a corsage pin or an old stick pin that I have. (A straight pin is not strong enough for this.) However, if you plan to do a lot of knotting, you might want to consider either learning to use an awl and a pair of tweezers, or for a more high tech approach, take a look at a tool called the tri-cord knotter. These tools will make it easier for you to make consistent and tight knots. Most bead vendors sell tools which are specially made for knotting. Many of them also offer books and even videos on this technique as well.

    For my way of traditional knotting, along with the corsage or stick pin you just need your beads and choice of cord. For this demonstration, I’m using burgundy colored nylon no. 4 cord and 6mm mother of pearl beads. I’ve chosen to use contrasting colors so they show up better in the pictures. Of course, if I were to make a necklace, I’d match up my cord to the color of my beads.

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  • 02 of 06

    Start Knotting Between Beads

    First Bead Knotting Step
    First Bead Knotting Step. Tammy Powley

    First, you'll need to gather your choice of beads and stringing material. For knotting, you'll want to use either silk or nylon. You can purchase either of these materials with a pre-attached needle or purchase the needles and thread individually. Assuming you are learning knotting for the first time, I suggest the pre-attached needle option just because it is one less step to deal with and fairly inexpensive. Most cost just a few dollars.

    Since you will use either silk or nylon cord, I...MORE suggest finishing one end of the necklace with a bead tip before starting to knot.

    Once the necklace (or bracelet) is started, string on the first bead. Now, tie an over hand knot, but keep it loose.

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  • 03 of 06

    Insert Pin in Knot

    Second Bead Knotting Step
    Second Bead Knotting Step. Tammy Powley
    Now, insert the pin (or end of the awl) through the loose knot.
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  • 04 of 06

    Push Knot Against Bead

    Push Knot Against Bead
    Push Knot Against Bead. Tammy Powley
    With the pin still inside the knot, use it to push the knot down towards the bead until the knot and pin are flush up against the bead.
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  • 05 of 06

    Removing the Pin from Knot

    Removing the Pin from Knot
    Removing the Pin from Knot. Tammy Powley
    Here comes the tricky part. Keep the knot up against the bead while you slip the pin out. Then take the pin and hold it on top of the cord and up against the knot. Pull the cord with one hand, and push the knot against the bead using the pin in your other hand. (Hopefully, you’re not trying to chew gum and rub your stomach too.)

    I've also seen people do this same technique, but instead of pushing with the pin, they use their fingers to push the knot further up against the bead.

    Either way...MORE works. The idea is that you want to knot to be flush up against the bead after you remove the pin or awl. This is where practice will make a big difference because the more you do it the better you will get at this important step in the process.

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  • 06 of 06

    Continue and Practice Knotting

    Knotting Between Beads
    Knotting Between Beads. Tammy Powley
    Continue this process after each bead is strung. I usually string on about a half dozen beads or so, and then push one down and knot, push and other down and knot, and so on. This way, I don't have to stop and string a bead on after each knot.

    Once you try this, you might find ways to adjust it that work better for you. You might want to knot from right to left or left to right. Try a few experiments until you find a way that works best for you, and remember to expect some boo-boo's when...MORE you first start learning this.

    In fact, I would recommend before you start actually making a specific piece of jewelry, to just plan on practicing with a mixture of beads and cording that you plan to cut apart when you are done. Once you get the hang of it, you will see how the results can really make a difference when it comes to beaded necklaces. It helps the bead drape better, and if at some point there is a break in the cord, you won't lose all your beads.