Knotting Pearls -- Harder than it Sounds
(Los Angeles, CA)
A very sorry first attempt.
Pearls are a newly found love for me. I accompanied a friend to a bead shop, and the moment I saw the pearl section, I was lost.
Not wanting to subject the most beautiful (and expensive) pearls to my first awkward caresses, I spent an hour or so picking pearls out of the "buy by the scoop" bins. (It's okay, they had separate prices for picked versus un-picked scoops, so I was allowed.)
Armed with a pile of glowing, if mis-formed/mis-drilled pearls, I hit the internet to learn how to string them. I had some sense that it wasn't like throwing seed beads on a cord.
My first attempt to knot a strand was undertaken late at night. This necessitated using what I had on hand. No clasp, so I found a safety pin instead. No silk, so maybe sewing thread would do. "Fine," I thought, "this is just a practice run after all." (I had no idea how right I was.)
Firstly, I found that my thread was a little thin. The knots I made were too small, and the pearls kept trying to slip over them. This made it difficult to keep proper tension between knots. (Ha! Excuses! It was bloody hard making the knots lie where they should, and I don't think the most perfect silk in the world would have made that easier.)
Secondly, the weight of the pearls on either end of the strand pulls at the spot where you are trying to make each knot. I got best results when I let the entire strand lie on the table, even the pearl I was currently working on.
Thirdly, I couldn't get knots to lie anywhere near the pearls unless I used my beading needle to guide them in. The cleanest procedure went something like this: snug the pearl against the previous knot, make the loop for the next knot, slide the beading needle through the loop and the hole in the pearl, gently pull the thread perpendicularly along the needle until the new knot is resting against the pearl, remove needle, use fingers to very gently tighten knot further against pearl. I still need lots of practice.
My next attempt will involve heavier thread/silk. I think my poor pearls will be subjected to many restringings while I clean up my technique. I'm secretly very excited about this. As much as I look forward to wearing perfectly knotted pearls, I really love having them in my hands; so stringing them again and again does not sound like a onerous task.