One of the things I find the most rewarding when beading is the opportunity to problem solve and create jewelry using unexpected materials. I get immense satisfaction when I am able to complete a project by thinking outside of the box a little. Today I am going to demonstrate how to use a seed bead finding called a slide end tube to make an edgy chain fringe earring.
Slide end tubes are a simple but elegant way to finish off a seed bead piece. The tube has a slight opening down the center that slides over the last row of a woven or stitched seed bead piece. The tab on the end of the tube is then folded down thus holding stitching securely in place. This finding creates a nice finished edge and provides a loop for attaching the clasp.
We offer a nice selection of Brass Slide End Tubes by Nunn Design in four plating options: antique gold, antique copper, antique silver and sterling silver. Though specifically made for seed bead projects, the tube is open just wide enough to slide over the end of a steel ball chain. Several rows of chain can be loaded into the tube compartment to create a unique earring with a “curtain of chain” effect. I experimented with the 24mm and 34mm Slide End tubes. The 24mm tube worked quite well with the petite ball chain. The 24mm tube accommodates 10 rows of 2.5mm ball chain or 11 rows of 2mm ball chain.The 34mm tube has a slightly larger tube diameter which was just wide enough to accommodate a larger ball chain. The 34mm tube will fit 10 rows of 3mm ball chain.My first challenge was to figure out the amount of chain I would need to purchase. I discovered a total of 4 to 5 feet was enough to complete a pair of earrings with a modest fringe length of 2 inches. Since the steel ball chain is very reasonably priced I ordered a little extra so I could have the freedom to make a longer fringe if desired.
For the earring design included below I cut the longest length first. This length served as the center row and the foundation for the rest of the graduated design. For each subsequent row to the right and left of the center I cut off one ball segment to create a tapered effect. Cutting the chain was challenging but I found that if I placed the chain into the tube I could then hold it up and cut the chain by eye rather than measuring each segment with a ruler. This was particularly useful when I needed pairs of chain segments. I placed two chain segments into the tube together and then cut them to match. Once all the chain segments were cut, I placed them in graduating order and used a piece of scotch tape to keep them side by side as I loaded the chain ends into the tube.
I closed the tube end then attached the ear wire to the bail to complete. Lastly, I added a little dab of Hypo Tube Cement inside the tube compartment to keep the ball chain in place. Hypo Tube Cement has a very small needle tip applicator perfect for squeezing the glue into tight places. I applied a small amount of glue along the length of the tube. Then I hung up the earring on the edge of a cup and used tweezers to move the chain rows into position. I distributed the chains evenly across to make sure the earring would remain balanced. This little step helped ensure the earring would hang properly and would not dip down to one side.
The earrings turned out incredibly well and I am super excited that this little experiment proved to be successful. I think you will enjoy making these little fun fringe earrings as well. I encourage you to play with different versions of the steel ball chain, experiment with mixed metals or extend the fringe length to make a dramatic pair of earrings perfect for a night on the town!
Happy Tuesday! – Rebecca