Cleaning Woven Beadwork
A friend of mine who owns one of my tubular netting necklaces asked me about cleaning. It was a hot, humid day and she’d worn the necklace against her skin for most of it. Indeed, perspiration as well as oils from one’s fingers can, over time, lessen the shimmer of your jewelry. You can keep your bead jewelry looking new, but don’t go overboard with excessive cleaning! And always test the solution on the back of the piece first.
There are several alternative mixtures for your use, but don’t try anything other than a clean dry cloth or cotton swab if you are cleaning dyed beads. The solutions that are commonly used are ethanol and water(1), soapy water(2), surface or glass cleaner and water(2), and a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water(3).
Be sure your hands are clean and dry as it would be both silly and futile to clean and dirty at the same time. Use a cotton swab for small or intricate pieces or a soft low-lint cloth for larger ones. Slightly moistened the swab of cloth and gently rub over the beads. It is not necessary to scrub. Never, ever, immerse the work in any fluid as this can be detrimental to the material used in the weaving. I use a tailor’s thread called silimide which is both strong and durable, however repeated thrashings in water can weaken even this incredible material.
Future articles will address other issues such as caring for rhinestone jewelry, cleaning and storing silver jewelry, and much more. If you have specific questions you’d like addressed, please let me know!
May your day sparkle!
Patricia C Vener
- Royal Saskatchewan Museum: Virtual Lab: Wm Small Collection (author unknown) http://www.royalsaskmuseum.ca/research/conservation/virtlab_will_small.shtml
- Lawwill, Janet; “Sparkles Vintage Costume Jewelry: Cleaning and Repair” 1997
- Stephens, Blair McCracken; “Beadworktips at Lifetips” 2005 http://beadwork.lifetips.com/subcat/68451/collectible-beads/collectible-beads/