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February 16, 2023

Make Two Strand Bead Fringe Component for Earrings

Making this small bead fringe component is a good way to experiment with fringe length and patterns, and also a great way to add bead fringe to different styles of earrings.

Polymer clay flowers disks on thin wire hoops with bead fringe

When I think of bead fringe earrings, I tend to think of brick stitch beaded triangles with fringe dangling from the base row. I love these types of earrings but I wanted to experiment with fringe length without having to make a lot of different pairs of earrings. My solution is this fringe component that can be added to a wide variety of jewelry styles.

Rabbit ceramic bead on thin wire hoop earring with bead fringe

 I started working on this idea a few weeks ago when I was making these rabbit themed earrings for the lunar New Year. I came up with a short bead fringe (or maybe it's a tassel) with a loop at the top so it can be threaded onto a wire loop or earring finding.

polymer clay button earring and bead fringe component

About the same time I was making the rabbit charm earrings, I purchased an assortment of polymer clay beads that are drilled through the center like button. 

Polymer clay button beads by Eriko Page

I'm very smitten with these polymer clay beads though. I splurged on a nice size package of flowers and leaves at a recent bead show, so I'm sure you'll see more projects with them in the future. The artist is Eriko Page and you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

I find these types of beads challenging to use, but I had a vision of the flowers on a small hoop earring finding with different styles of bead fringe. The examples in this post use a very simple two strand fringe, but I'm eventually going to try looped fringe, twisted fringe, leaf fringe, coral fringe - the whole bead fringe repertoire.

Side note - you can find instructions to make the wire hoop earring component at the link.

Comparison of two different beaded fringe styles

The first bead fringe component I made starts with a 4 bead ladder (2 beads high by 2 beads wide), a top loop of 5 beads and beaded fringe that is 20 beads long. I am using round size 11 toho beads.
In this configuration, the fringe is about 1.5 inches long from the top of the hanging loop to the bottom of the longest fringe. I used my favorite fringe thread K.O. beading thread in white. The link is to a review of K.O. beading thread that I did last year.

There are some tricks to making these stand alone beaded fringe components. 

The tension was a bit tight in the first few that I made because my knots and the thread path didn't allow me to adjust the tension after the fringe was strung. I also tried a single bead before the hanging loop (the two fringe on the left above) but ended up really disliking the look of these.

Comparison of multiple bead fringe styles and lengths

Here are several of the bead fringe components I've made. The first greenish-blue (toho transparent rainbow teal) have a 2 bead brick stitch base around a closed plastic ring. The fringe is 25-26 beads long (about 1 3/4 inches). This is a very easy way to start and works great if you don't mind seeing the ring or can put it behind another bead like I did with the polymer clay flowers.

Moving towards the right in the picture above, the blue (opaque frost navy blue) use the single bead below the loop and are too tight to hang correctly. That was a common factor using the single bead before the loop. These ones are ugly.

The white and red are original prototypes with the two bead center being more preferred - but I decided I like a longer hanging loop of 7 beads instead of 5 like these have.

The two tone blue are surprising because they are short but supple. Only 15 beads long, they have good tension and hang very well - slightly over 1 1/4 inches long. These fringe have the 7 bead hanging loop.

The last fringe in pink and beige is when I started dipping into my bead soup leftovers. This bead fringe is 10 beads long - about 1 inch. Also surprisingly supple, which tells me that I finally found a good thread path. I added a small picot on the end by using 3 beads to turn the end of the fringe instead of one.

polymer clay button earrings with bead fringe on wire hoop findings

One interesting thing about these fringe components is that they have A LOT of movement from the sway of the hanging beads on the loop. It is a very different movement than the typical fringe on brick stitch earrings. It's actually unique and exciting to me.

Here's the details of the thread path I found worked the best to make the bead fringe components:

Start with a 4 bead ladder (2 beads high, 2 beads wide). 

Pick up 7 beads for the hanging loop and go back through the two bead ladder on the other side.

Here I tie the thread ends in a small square knot. I like to know the tail end is tied and just needs to be woven in at the end.

Then I reinforce the ladder stitch by going back around the 2x2 square before starting the fringe. This also allows me to pull the knot inside the beads.

Make the first strand of fringe (length varies) and go up through the 2 bead ladder above. Go down the 2 bead ladder on the other side and add the beads for the second fringe leg.

Stitch up through the ladder stitch and around the hanging loop to reinforce. Make a half hitch knot in the ladder stitch before the fringe.

Go through the first few beads of the fringe and trim the working thread. Add a needle to the tail end and stitch through a few beads on the other fringe. Trim the tail.

Adjust the bead fringe as needed by pulling on the last bead and turning the fringe beads between your fingers while you are adding the fringe and after it is complete.

What do you think of these? Would you want to make fringe components for your jewelry? What will yours look like?

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