Tuesday, December 1, 2009

To Condition Or Not To Condition: Protecting Your Thread and Fireline

Flower On The Serpentine Class and Kit

Whenever I am teaching a group of beaders, Bettina my beading partner is constantly used as a reference.  We both love to bead and have a passion for things that are hand crafted.  Yet, our approaches to beading could not be more different.  This actually allows us to collaborate on class projects with ease and a lot of ideas emerge because of our varied methods.  
So, whenever I recommend using something, Bettina ends up either not using that specific item or if she does it is used in a completely different way. As I say to our class participants, at least try and experiment your self and then you develop your repertoire of techniques and tips to creating your objects in the manner that suits you. 
Which brings me back to the subject of thread conditioning.  Thread conditioning you say?  Yes, just like we moisturize our hair, soften our clothes and other daily rituals, thread conditioning has it's merits.  With my own projects, particularly the bead embroidery and the off loom weaving which takes time, my egoic self imagines that when I am long gone, my pieces will be found, dusted, analysed and studied and the idea that the thread conditioner actually prolonging the life of the thread that is holding the beads makes this far fetched concept all the more appealing.  
In reality, it protects the thread from sharp edges of certain types of beads such as bugle beads and machine cut crystal bicones.  It also limits the development of knots and kinks which can lead to frustrating sessions of untangling, resorting to cutting the thread and having to start a project all over again.  The beading thread and Fireline are literally the lifeline of your projects and they weave the basis of the underlying structures that keep the piece together and in the pattern or weave that is being created.  So, I stretch the thread when measuring and then condition it.  

Which conditioner is best for your thread?  Well it depends on what technique you are working on and what is required of the thread or Fireline.  I use two products and they have different effects in terms of output and how they feel when you are beading.  The two products are Microcrystalline Wax and Thread Heaven. The image above left actually shows the technique of conditioning your Fireline with Microcrystalline Wax.  It is excellent as it allows your beadweaving to have a bit more structure and protects the stringing material more often than not from snapping and breaking.  With Fireline when bezeling cabochons and semiprecious stones I tend to pull the Size 11 Delicas firmly so the conditioning allows this to be done more easily.  It also ideal when you need to try and avoid tangling of a single or double threaded segment as it makes the sides stick together and act as one strand rather than two.  The wax is also used when double threading C-Lon and off loom weaving with the beading thread especially in repetitive stitches such as the Spiral Stitch. 

Thread Heaven on the other hand is a completely different creature and leaves a silky, buttery feel to your thread.  We  use C-Lon and another thread by Toho.  A little goes a long way as you run your needle and thread through as it also creates an electrostatic state that makes threads move away so it is not recommended to use when you are double threading.  I use both items and my little tub of Microcrystalline and little blue box of Thread Heaven have lasted me for years actually.  On that note, my beading partner in crime Bettina rarely uses the wax as she does not like the tackiness it creates when she is working and will use the Thread Heaven on occasion.  Both conditioners are available at the shop should you choose to condition your threads. 

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