Save time with a bead spinner

on Thursday, May 22, 2014

Figure 1

Figure 2

The first time that I saw bead spinner, I was at a bead show. I could not believe what I was seeing! A woman was loading up beading thread with seed beads in gemstones of all different colors. When she was done filling the strand, she finished her necklace with a simple clasp. She was making them in less than half an hour. I stopped to speak with her and asked her how the bead spinner worked, and how she got so many beads on her strand so quickly.

The way a bead spinner works is by using centrifugal force. As you spin the spinner, the seed beads are forced to the inside curve of the bead spinner. Then the law of probabilities takes over. Random chance will have some of the bead holes pointing up, as well as some of them pointing in all the other directions. With your needle riding on the top of the surface of the beads, some will by chance line up exactly with the point of the needle. What happens then is the beads start going on the needle, and the force of the beads behind them starts pushing them up the needle. Before you know it, you have six or seven inches of beads on your thread.

Bead spinners come in different sizes. The first one I bought was a medium-sized bead spinner and I bought it at the show where the woman was demonstrating them. Since then I found a very small bead spinner that I use more frequently because to make the bead spinner work correctly, you need to have a bowl full of beads. Not wanting to put a quarter kilo of beads into the larger bead spinner, I use this small pink one with a BigEye Needle that I curve on one end with my fingers (Figure 1).

As with all new things, it took a while to learn how to use it properly. At first I had beads flying all over the place, but I had put down a sheet to catch them, so I wasn’t too worried about it. Within fifteen minutes, I was doing as well as the Bead Spinner Lady. The small pink bead spinner will work fine with about 25 grams of 8/0 seed beads. This is a great way to prepare to make a bead crochet bracelet that is either made with all the same type beads, or a random selection of different beads. The bead spinner will make sure that you’re getting a true random selection.

If I were going to make a necklace, I would probably use the medium-size bead spinner (Figure 2). The reasons for this are that the movement is much smoother and the bowl holds a larger quantity of beads. What I like about this bead spinner is the long rod in the middle, which makes it easy to spin the bowl.

The third bead spinner has a shorter rod, but a better shaped bowl. I like the bowl on this one because it allows you to see better what you doing with the beads and the needle as you spin. I cannot find a source for the small pink one, but I'll keep looking.

Dr. Gail H. Devoid, Ph.D. is president of Need for Beads, Inc. and teaches beading techniques through programs at the Bead Society of New Hampshire. She also co-hosted a live, free, Internet radio show called The Jewelry Connection.

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