Many people just starting out in beading can get a little lost with all the jargon. As with any industry, learning what things are called and what they are used for can be a challenge. This article will assist in clarifying some of these terms.
You have come across the term 'findings' and wondered what on earth it was about. Basically, 'findings' are all the metal components that are used in beading. They vary in composition from nickel to sterling silver, and they vary is weight and size.
Headpins are tiny nail like pins. They have a flat top at one end and a blunt pin on the other end. Other shapes like hearts and swirls could be found in place of the flat end. The flat end prevents the beads from sliding off the pin. When you have finished passing on all the required beads, you curl the blunt end into an 'eye' using round nosed pliers. This little eye or loop is what you can join more pins to, or any other findings such as charms, or chain. These are normally used at the end of earrings to 'finish' or can be used to attach beads to charm bracelets.
Eyepins are very much like head pins. The difference is eye pins don't have a flat end. Instead they have an 'eye' at one end. You pass the beads through the pin just like with a head pin, and then curl the blunt end once again. These are used more as joiners, making longer earrings or necklaces.
Jump rings are round loose little loops that are used to link other findings together. The diameter of the jump rings vary vastly as do their purpose. They can be used as a decorative piece on an elaborate item of jewellery or to link clasps, charms or spacers. Some jump rings are completely circular and cannot be opened others have a slice through one side that can be opened to adjust the size of the jump ring depending on its purpose.
Split rings are very similar to jump rings. They are small loops that loop over a couple of times making them look like little keyrings. They are used as an alternative to jump rings. They are more suited for heavy linking than jump rings as they do not open up as easily as jump rings. Perfect for linking bracelets clasps.
Parrot Clasps are clasps shaped in the form of a parrot's beak, hence the name. They are perfect for all sorts of jewellery making from bracelets, to necklaces, to bag charms.
Lobster Clasps are very similar to Parrot Clasps but the shape varies slightly. The shape is more like the claw on a lobster, hence its name.
Barrel clasps are clasps with two sides to them. Each side is attached to either end of the necklace or bracelet using a jump ring, split ring, eyepin or tiger tail, and then screw into each other, clasping the two ends together. There name also comes from their appearance, which is a little like a small barrel.
Toggle clasps also have 2 sides to them. One is a round part (though the shape could vary and be heart shaped or triangular even) and the other side is a long bar. They clasp together by passing the bar through the 'round' side.
Tiger Tail is a soft bendable wire, coated with synthetic. Though you can bend it, it does not hold its shape. It is used instead in place of thread or fishing line, to thread beads onto. You cannot tie the ends of tiger tail together, and so need to crimp off the ends.
Crimps are tiny little drilled balls or hollow tubes that are pass through Tiger Tail or other threading material and squashed together with pliers to firmly hold the beads in place.
Charlotte crimps are also used to prevent beads from falling off. They provide a cleaner finish. They are shaped like oyster shells with a little hook on it. There is a little hole though the join of the 2 sides of the 'shell' parts. It is through this hole that you pass the thread item. You then crimp the end using a normal crimp, which you then sit into the 'shell'. You then close the 2 sides together and attach to clasp or other findings by curling the hook.
Ear Hooks or Ear Wires, are what earrings are made with. The hook is the part that goes through the piercing in the earlobe. They are also commonly known as Shepherd Hooks and are so because they look like a shepherd's staff. They also have an 'eye' end, to which you attach the decorative part of the earring.
Bead Caps are decorative or plain cup shaped caps that sit over beads. They can be used for purely decorative purposes or to protect the bead from scratching onto other beads, head pins etc.
Having a bit of a heads up on what's what in findings will help you are buying findings or following a beading pattern. My next article will continue with more goodies.
Author Terri Batsakis runs you through what various silver findings are called and their function, making it easier to understand instructions in beading magazines. This information that will also make it easier when purchasing beads, even if you are just a beginner. Click here to get your own unique version of this article from the beads Articles Submissions Service