Softflex and flex-rite are tiny supple nylon coated steel cables that have revolutionized the beading industry for 20+ years. Developed as a simple substitute for stranding on cord, this flexible beading wire utilizes crimp tubes to finish and attach a clasp. It does not require a needle, so stranding can be done from either end, simultaneously. It is durable and holds up to frequent wear, eliminating the need to restring due to fiber degradation caused by sweat, perfume, hairspray and other such products.
There are several diameters to select based on the material you are stringing. Smaller diameters are generally weaker, but can allow two or more strands of beadwire to pass through the same bead, in multi strand necklaces.
There are different quantities of strands within that array of diameters which provide degrees of flexibility, with the 7 strand products being the stiffest (and easiest to kink), and the 49 strand being the most supple. 49strand drapes very well, as long as the proper diameter is selected for the weight of material being strung.
Flex-rite (sometimes spelled flexrite), is a good quality brand we usually recommend, and is made in Japan.
Softflex is the same quality in our experience, a bit more expensive, and is made in the USA.
SoftTouch (made by the softflex company) is a more delicate and more supple product that is meant to drape close to cord and is actually knotable. In a given diameter, a SoftTouch product will have a much more supple drape and feel much less stiff.
Flex-rite Ripple is a wavy-shaped beadwire (made in Pakistan), made for floating style necklaces, where beads are positioned on the wire, tin cup style, with the exposed wire becoming part of the design.
Usage and recommended crimp sizes can be found in our Beadwire Selection Chart below. Since base metal crimps are more brittle, can fracture, and can occasionally cut the beadwire itself, we strongly recommend using sterling silver (SS) crimps. Similarly, some findings or clasps with sharp edges can wear the beadwire over time, so we recommend always ending beadwire by looping into a closed jumpring, or using a Wire Guard finding.
Some helpful tips: when stranding clear crystal or other transparent beads, use the pearl silver or the metallic beadwire, as it will not be as distracting as the clear coated beadwire that presents as a dark grey shadow inside the bead. When stranding beads that have flat end surfaces (think cube, tube or rectangular beads), be sure to leave a tiny bit of empty beadwire near the clasp so that there is enough room to allow the beads to move when the wire is drawn up into a curve after the project is finished, especially on bracelets. When stringing a necklace with a heavy pendant or centerpiece, step up to a heavier wire size, even if the majority of the other beads are small.
|Beadwire Size||SS crimp size for a single loop||Weight||Usage|
|.010, .012, .013||1mm dia (eg 1x1)||Very Fine||Stringing tiny beads; embellishing|
|.014||1.5mm dia (eg 1.5x2)||Fine||Stringing seed beads and freshwater pearls|
|.018, .019, .020||2mm dia (eg 2x2)||Medium||Stringing glass, gemstone and metal - the best all purpose size|
|.024||2mm dia (eg 2x2)||Heavy||Stringing large stone and lampwork glass beads; heavy pendants|