Bead Caps – Top Tips from Helen Bowen

Bead caps give added interest and an air of professionalism to your designs. Helen Bowen is a big fan of these stylish findings so we asked her to share her tips.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Hello from Helen

    Hello from Helen

    If you've seen any of my work, you'll know how fond I am of using jewellery components in unconventional ways.

    Getting creative with findings in particular keeps my jewellery unique and, more importantly, it stops me getting bored!

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Making it up as you go

    Making it up as you go

    In the kitchen, I've never been one to follow a recipe despite a shelf full of cookery books.

    Instead, I will come up with some new concoction based on the contents of my fridge and this approach seems to work just as well when designing jewellery.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: New ideas

    New ideas

    In my creative world, there is never a concrete design, more an idea in my head and the intention to try something new.

    So whilst some things turn out just great (like my cranberry and white chocolate muffins at Christmas), other things find themselves relegated to the dog's bowl or, in the case of jewellery, the rework box!

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: The versatile bead cap

    The versatile bead cap

    One of the most versatile components in my findings stash is the trusty bead cap. Bead caps come in many shapes, sizes and metal finishes and have many uses either just as they are or with a bit of gentle bending and hammering.

    Let's begin with some helpful tips on using bead caps as they were intended.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Bead caps on headpins

    As nature intended

    Bead caps (sometimes referred to as bell caps) can be used practically to prevent headpins from sliding straight through beads with larger holes or to cover the gaps left visible when threading these beads.

    Spacer beads can be used to do this job but bead caps offer a space saving alternative and are useful for hiding any small imperfections around the holes.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Shapes and sizes

    Every which way

    Bead caps can be used to enhance a bead or add detail or texture to a design. You can put a bead cap at either end or just one end. There are no hard and fast rules about what size bead caps to use with what size bead.

    It all depends on the shape of the bead cap, the shape of the bead and the effect you want to achieve. Experiment a little and you'll find some interesting combinations.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Size matters

    Size matters

    Oversized bead caps can be wonderful for representing elements of nature. I've made blackberries, strawberries, acorns, pine cones and flowers using bead caps that are deliberately larger than the bead.

    Small bead caps can also work just as well on larger beads.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Bead caps as features

    Berry nice

    I often use just a small bead cap at the top which is great for holly berries or mistletoe - and a tiny bead cap at one end and a larger one at the other - perfect for blackcurrants and other fruits or seeds.

    I also use them inside flower beads of all kinds for a little extra detail and dimension.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Mix and match your bead caps

    Mix and match

    Don't be scared to mix your bead cap styles within your design.

    I love to highlight my 'star' beads by using different bead caps on them to the rest of the beads. You can also layer them or turn them upside-down for some lovely effects.

    The number one rule is there are no rules (well, not many anyway)!

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Modifying bead caps

    Bead bold

    If you're feeling brave, you can find many more uses for the humble bead cap. For instance, you can modify them with just a pair of pliers or a hammer.

    With a little gentle persuasion, tulip style bead caps can be bent to form a cage (with or without a bead) and the thinner ones can even be curled back on themselves using round nose pliers for yet another look.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Bead caps as a feature

    Main feature

    Try using bead caps without a bead at all and add a pretty layer to earrings.

    In my cameo bliss earrings (picture left) I have used bead caps as a feature on their own for added interest.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Bead caps as a bead

    Make a bead

    In these 'Taste of the Orient' earrings I have used two bead caps facing each other to form a bead.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: Hammering bead caps

    Hammer it out

    Filigree bead caps can be hammered flat and connected together with jump rings to form a fancy chain or pretty connector.

    The symmetrical design of filigree caps also makes them the perfect base for creating beaded flowers that are then easily attached to other components such as brooch pins.

  • Bead Cap Top Tips: A final word

    A final word

    So next time you go in search of findings for your latest creation, look beyond their intended function and be adventurous.

    The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14

About the author

ring-o-roses

Ring ‘O Roses handmade jewellery

Helen Bowen is a member of the Guild of Jewellery Designers and is a Self-Representing Artist Jewellery Designer (SRAJD). She is owner/creator of Ring O’ Roses – Handmade Jewellery and writer of the ‘A Pocketful of Posies‘ blog. You can also find her designs on her Etsy page. From her home in Warwickshire, she designs and makes beautiful individual pieces with a strong reference to nature and a real eye for colour and detail. She works on commission but also creates for general sale in her Etsy Shop.

Give it a go – Win some bead caps to play with

If Helen’s tips have inspired you into giving bead caps a go, now is your chance! Please tell us why you enjoyed this article and what you would like to see some top tips on in the comments box below. The author of one comment will be picked at random and sent a mixed pack of bead caps to play with. Please let us know your thoughts by midnight on Sunday 29th April 2012.

Related posts

Comments

  1. Helen Bowen says:

    Almost all the beadcaps you see used in the item photos, are ones available from Beads Unlimited, most in a variety of metal finishes. Go on – get experimenting!

  2. Lucy says:

    I would never have thought of using bead caps in so many different ways! Only ever used them in their more practical guise but the effects seen here are lovely, can’t wait to go and have a play now.

  3. Sheila says:

    Haven’t used bead caps before as I have always used spacers. Found the article really useful particularly as i didn’t realise that you could use any size bead cap with any size bead. Will definitely now give bead caps a go in my jewellery designs.

  4. Nadine says:

    Thank you for this fab article… I’ve had a go with bead caps in the past but didn’t really get on with them. After reading this inspiring article I will definitely be having another go and try to experiment using the tips provided.

  5. Debbsie Fleming says:

    I have also used beaded caps back to back to create a different spacer,with crimp covers or seed beads after, bead caps also make brilliant shields over ‘not quite perfect’ wrapped loops, or to balance the weight on drop earrings. Like the inspiration that can be shared after a tip like this, Thanks for the brain stirring.. :)

  6. Kathy Watkins Frost says:

    Being a complete novice at jewellery making, I am grateful for this information, funny enough I purchased some Bead Caps this week, have never used them before, so now I have a few more ideas, any other information would be gratefully received. thanks :)

  7. Joan Impey says:

    Where can i buy the book Ring o,Roses hand made jewellery.
    Than you
    Joan London

  8. dottee says:

    Helen is chock full of marvelous tips! I especially like the bead caps on the Dusky Bell flower earrings and never thought of hammering a bead cap back into flat! Great ideas.

    Now my mind is humming with other ideas. What fun.

    beading with a smile, dottee

  9. DESPINA says:

    Well done, Helen!!
    Very helpful for people who just start out making jewellery but great inspiration for more experienced ones, too!!

  10. Joanna-Gloria says:

    I enjoyed it very much!!
    Great ideas and examples in photos, gorgeous work!!
    Thank you for sharing, Helen
    <3 <3

  11. Pam says:

    I love those pieces and thanks for the great ideas :-) Where is the book on sale? Best wishes, Pam

  12. Helen Bowen says:

    Thanks for all the comments folks.

    I hope you try out some of the bead cap ideas. Would love to see what you make and you’re welcome to share pics on my page (www.facebook.com/ringoroses) aswell as on the Beads Unlimited page.

    Pam/Joan – there isn’t a book as yet (perhaps I should write one!). The ‘About the Author’ refers to this article rather than a printed volume! I do write useful articles on my own blog too which you can find at http://www.ringorosesjewellery.blogspot.com

    Many thanks

    Helen

Speak Your Mind

*

Easy way to download files for free:nero 10 6 11300forever the sickest kidsgemelle kessler dadaumpa