What exactly is the difference between Wildfire and Fireline?

As you may have noticed, there are handfuls of thread choices out there to choose from when it comes to beading.  While it is important for beaders to have multiple bead style and color options, it is equally, if not more important for beaders to use a thread that is both functional and durable that will withstand the beading process and wear.

Different beading projects call for different types of thread. More intense and intricate beading patterns that require lots of thread handling and passes through beads, may require a more substantial thread, while other projects could use a more delicate thread.  For beadweaving, looming, and bead embroidery, it is important for you to select a thread that will work well for your specific beading project. As you are well aware, beading requires hours of time and patience and as beads are a vital part of all beading projects, the thread is what brings the creativity together.


There are countless threads to choose from, such as nylon thread, which is used for beadweaving and looming, threads specifically for bead crochet, Kumihomo brading, pearl knotting, stringing, soutache and more.  I will focus on those threads another time.  For now, I want to specifically highlight a type of thread that the overwhelming majority of beaders favor when creating their beaded designs and those are the thermally bonded threads.

There are two main brands or types of thermally bonded threads that we at The Potomac Bead Company offer.  Those threads are Wildfire and Fireline, and many customers ask us what the difference is between the two.  Here I want to spotlight the details and provide you with an overview of each so that you know exactly what you’re working with.  My hope is that when you’re finished reading this blog you will know everything you need to know about Wildfire and Fireline Beading Thread!


I want to start off with defining thermal bonding and what it actually means.  Thermal fusion or bonding, by definition, is the process by which synthetic fibers or materials are fused together via a heating process.  The heating of the synthetic fibers or materials allows those fibers to melt or “fuse” together to become one. In the case of Wildfire and Fireline, these two threads feature a coated polyethylene material.


The thermally bonded coating of Wildfire and Fireline gives these thin threads strength and durability and makes them an exceptional product for use in loom and off-loom beading projects and needling projects.  Because these threads have a special coating, they require no waxing or pre-conditioning prior to use. In addition, the coating provides a smooth surface that eases needle threading and allows for easy detangling and knot removal.  They are developed to be fray and stretch resistant, waterproof, and are able to withstand intense use and consistent wear. Thermally bonded threads are extremely versatile and may be used in a wide variety of beading projects, from beadweaving and looming, to wrap bracelets and more.  Many would agree that the functionality and durability of these threads make them a fan favorite.


When purchasing Wildfire or Fireline beading thread, you’ll notice on the packaging that their thickness is labeled in inches – such as .006 in.  This is the actual thickness of the thread and what you want to focus on when determining which size thread you need.  The thicker the thread, the less passes it can make through a bead. If you’re working on a project that requires multiple passes of thread through a bead, you will want to lean toward the thinner thread to ensure it fits through the diameter of the bead as many times as you need.  Sometimes thread labels also list the pound weight of the thread. This is confusing and irrelevant to beaders. Instead, focus on the diameter of the thread and the length you need and IGNORE THE POUND WEIGHT! I will explain this more later.


Wildfire and Fireline are almost virtually the same, however they do have a few differences that are important to point out.


Wildfire, perhaps the most popular of thermally bonded threads, is manufactured in the United States by Beadalon.  The Potomac Bead Company offers Wildfire beading thread in spools of 20 yards, 50 yards and 125 yards, in sizes .006 inch and .008 inches.  At first, Wildfire was only available in standard white and black colors, but Beadalon has added a handful of others to the lineup – Green, Gray, Blue and Red.  For some beaders, the color variety that Beadalon offers in their Wildfire thread is what keeps them going back for more. In particular, the green thread, although it seems odd, is very neutral and goes especially well with virtually any color bead.  Wildfire’s green thread is Allie’s go-to thread nine times out of ten when she’s working on a project and what we recommend to most beaders when they are determining which color thread to use. Unfortunately, many big box retail stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby do not carry the green color, so be sure to order yours online from potomacbeads.com!

Wildfire Key Points

  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • 6 Different Colors – Black, White, Green, Gray, Blue, Red
  • .006 and .008 Inch Thicknesses
  • Spools of 20 yards, 50 yards, and 125 yards


There is often some confusion around Fireline’s branding and what company actually manufactures it.  On the label you’ll see the name Berkley, but also The BeadSmith – which lends to the confusion!  Also made in the U.S.A, Fireline thread is manufactured by Berkley, a popular fishing supply company. The BeadSmith, a beading supply distributor, purchases Fireline from Berkley and re-brands it as a “microfused braided bead thread”.  This thread, or fishing line if you will, was initially manufactured as a strong fishing line, optimized for spinning reels. It was quickly realized that this line was also great for beading which is why The BeadSmith quickly picked it up and branded it as such.

The Bead Smith’s Fireline comes in 4 main thicknesses- .005 inch, .006 inch, .007 inch, and .008 inch.  Thicker varieties are also available from Berkley, but those sizes are not generally used by the beading community, they are too thick.  In addition, you will notice the labels also list the thread weight in pounds. As I mentioned previously, this is irrelevant and refers to the break strength of the line as it relates to fishing.  Ignore the break strength!

Fireline beading thread is available from Potomac Beads in 50 yard spools, in either crystal, smoke, or black satin.  A downfall of the smoke color is that the actual color rubs off onto your hands as you’re working with it. Because of this, Fireline developed the black satin color, but the price point is higher than the crystal or smoke.

Fireline Key Points

  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • 3 Colors – Crystal, Smoke, Black Satin
  • .005, .006, .007, .008 Inch Thicknesses
  • Spools of 50 yards


When all is said and done, both Wildfire and Fireline are great threads to work with in beading and beadweaving.  They are great for virtually any beading stitch – peyote, herringbone, right angle weave, brick, ladder, and more. Their price points are similar and they both have a hefty list of advantages with only one or two downfalls.  Both threads are thin but incredibly strong, they are fray and stretch resistant, waterproof, easy to thread through a needle, and while Wildfire is available in more colors, Fireline is available in more thicknesses. If you are in the market for a strong beading thread, give Wildfire or Fireline a try! It’s impossible for me to recommend one thread over the other, I can only recommend that you work with both and test them out! You, the beader, will be the determinant of which beading thread will work best for you!

I hope I leave you better informed on thermally bonded threads and perhaps excited to try something new!  Which one is your favorite? Let us know!

Happy Beading!


How Beading is Good for Health and Happiness!

The art of beading has been around for hundreds of years, dating back to the 14th century when the first glass beads were produced. What has made the art of beading withstand centuries and what is so lovely and beautiful about it? People of all ages have enjoyed the craft of beading for generations and each day more are getting themselves involved in beading and jewelry making. This beloved hobby is not only fun for people and a way to express creativity or earn a small profit, but the best part of all is that beading is good for your health! Oh yes you read it right, beading has many health benefits too! Both adults and children can experience the many therapeutic benefits of beading and jewelry making. Beading requires skills used by your brain to think, reason, and focus, but most of all, it relaxes us and makes us happy!

Beading for our Mental Health

Did you know that approximately 1-in-5 people GLOBALLY have a mental health disorder at any given time? From anxiety and depression to eating disorders and substance abuse, the mental health of the global population is on the decline. Our fast-paced lifestyles and constant hurrying to our next commitment is in no way beneficial to our overall well-being. We strive for success but barely give ourselves time to rest and enjoy the things that truly make us happy and calm our ever-moving minds. It is so important that we take into account our brain health and overall well-being and put into practice things that bring us joy, soothe and comfort us, and provide anxiety relief.

Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on Pexels.com

One of those comfort-bringing practices is art and crafting, and beading falls into that category. But you may ask, how is beading actually good for my mental health?

Encourages Mindfulness and Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Beading keeps our hands busy and our minds at ease. The time spent beading necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and embroidery requires full focus and concentration on the present moment, allowing us to practice mindfulness, and helps prevent our thoughts from wandering. The time we spend beading is spent constructively, and with purpose, and helps us escape the world around us, slow down, and focus on one task, one bead at a time. Many beading projects are done by stringing beads one-by-one, forcing the beader to take his or her time and to fixate on a singular task.

The repetitive nature of stringing beads is calming, almost like meditation. It can help to relieve stress by preventing a beader from trying to multitask, encouraging them to maintain focus on a sole task. Starting a pattern and growing with it slowly helps a person to slow their mind, be patient, and witness their creation unfold gradually. Beading allows one to abandon other life stressors and escape into an activity that will sooth and calm the mind. As Pablo Picasso famously said, “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Boosts Our Creativity and Self-Esteem

Not only does beading promote mindfulness and relieve stress, it also encourages creativity and boosts our self esteem. The art of beading and the endless design and creative possibilities that come with that, gives the beader an area to let his or her imagination work. There are thousands of beads to choose from, in hundreds of colors and finishes, all ready to be used to create something beautiful. There are endless beading materials to choose from, from seed beads and Czech pressed glass, to gemstones and freshwater pearls, giving a beader endless possibilities.

Photo by Avinash Patel on Pexels.com

Whether a beader is following a pattern, or developing their own design, the individual can play around with color combinations and textures and watch their design unfold. The end result of one’s imagination and creativity put to work is a finished piece that it’s creator can be proud of. After cycling through the entire creative process, the piece of jewelry can provide a person with a sense of accomplishment and bring them pride, joy, and satisfaction. Beading makes us feel happy, and when we as humans do things that make us feel good, our brains respond by releasing endorphins. Endorphins are the very chemicals in our brain that reduce stress and promote happiness. Art therapy is also proven to help alleviate anxiety by reducing the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies.

Encourages Socialization

Beading can be done is a group setting as well, allowing individuals to share ideas, stories and help one another out. In addition, it gives beaders the opportunity to provide each other with positive feedback and recommendations in design. Take Potomac Bead’s Beading and Jewelry Making Facebook Group for example. It is an online community where people can share their work, ask questions, provide feedback, and encourage one another.

Beading is Beneficial for Children Too

Imagine a situation where a child is beading, grasping the small beads one at a time and stringing them on thread. The repetitive motion of the beading process is extremely beneficial to a child’s fine motor skills as it strengthens their small, growing muscles. The act of grasping both small and large beads repeatedly for a particular pattern involves many hand movements. These repeated movements can help develop and strengthen a child’s grip and hand dexterity, which can lead to improved writing and coloring skills at school.

Encourages Creativity and Imagination

assorted color beads
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Beading gives children the perfect outlet to use their creativity and imagination. With beading, there are no lines to color in or rules to follow, only creative freedom. Beads are available in all different shapes, colors, sizes and textures. From fun lampwork beads and colorful mixed magnesite gemstones, to wooden beads and metal charms. Children are able to play around and experiment with color combinations, patterns, or no pattern at all! A child’s unique creation is made possible by their own originality and imagination which is vital for their developing minds.


Improved Fine Motor Skills and Concentration

As children get older, they are required to concentrate more and more, whether that be in school, or doing chores, or while riding a bike. The art of beading requires a certain level of concentration from the beader. If a child is sticking with a pattern, they need to concentrate on which beads they need to pick up, how many beads to use, and in which order they need to thread the beads. In addition, the child needs to focus on threading a small thread or string through the small hole of a bead. All of these things require patience and focus while helping to fine tune visual motor skills and gross motor skills. These seemingly meaningless tasks are great tools in helping children sharpen their minds with persistence, concentration, and focus on a specific task.

Offering a Sense of Accomplishment

When the piece they are creating is finished, a child then experiences the joy and satisfaction of a job well done. In addition, children then have a tangible item, imagined and created by only them, that they can be proud of. The satisfaction and pride in their work will grant a child a sense of accomplishment and provide them with a boost of self-esteem that every child needs to feel.

Great Teamwork

Beading as a group activity will help a child create playmates and make the whole activity more fun. Forming ideas with other children teaches a child how to collaborate and work with other children. It promotes sharing and the importance of teamwork and allows children the opportunity to encourage and give compliments to one another. Being able to share ideas with peers also helps to build a child’s self confidence in their ideas and abilities.


Are you having a rough day or week? Are you experiencing anxiety symptoms, feeling lonely and uninspired, and in need of a confidence boost? It is no secret that art is therapeutic and helps relieve our stress and gives us a boost of happiness. There are many studies on this very topic. Beading will help calm your mind and anxieties, and propel you to beautiful creations that you can delight in.  Allow your imagination to run wild, grab your beading supplies, and start creating!

#Happy Beading! – No pun intended =)


How to Tell if Your Gemstones Are Real Or Fake


If you’re like me, you like a beautiful gemstone necklace, bracelet or set of earrings.  There is something about making or purchasing jewelry with genuine gemstones that makes it more unique and special.  I particularly enjoy gifting handmade jewelry to my friends, family, and my kid’s teachers around the holidays. There are thousands of affordable, semiprecious gemstones out there to choose from, in hundreds of shapes and colors.  Unfortunately, although many of these beads are labeled as gemstones, many of them are not. There are certainly 100% natural gemstone beads and cabochons available, but there are also many imitations, manmade, dyed, or altered stones as well.  Manmade gemstones are beautiful, and a great addition to any piece of jewelry, they just aren’t natural. If you do prefer authentic stones, you need to educate yourself on what to look for and how to make an informed purchase.

woman holding six polished stones
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

To be clear, there is no fool-proof way to ensure your gemstones are 100% natural other than taking them to a certified gemologist and having them examined under a microscope.  There are, however, a handful of things you can take into account when shopping for gemstones that will help you to determine if you’re purchasing natural gemstones or fake gemstones.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for gemstone beads or gemstone cabochons.



The more information that is available for the gemstones you are purchasing, the better.  Thoroughly read product descriptions and look for ones that are transparent and forthcoming with information about the gemstone beads or cabochons they are selling.  In the description, look to see if the seller lists the origin of the stones or where they are mined. Knowing where a gemstone comes from or where it was mined will help in determining whether it is an authentic gemstone.  In addition, look to see if the description of the product includes terms like “dyed” or “manmade”. There are many stones available in the market that appear to be real gemstones, but in fact they are dyed or chemically treated stones made to look like natural gemstones.

moJAVE turquose
Mojave Turquoise

Let’s take turquoise for example. You’ve probably seen many beautiful turquoise beads available for sale but would it surprise you to know that around 90% of turquoise beads and other products are not actually turquoise? They are beautiful and certainly look like the real thing, but they are actually dyed howlite or magnazite.  Howlite is a white stone that is extremely absorbent and is dyed and treated to look just like turquoise. If a seller is selling dyed howlite, the product description should be transparent and tell you that.  So again, if you want authentic stones, do your due diligence and thoroughly read up on all available information on the product you are looking to purchase. Read descriptions closely, look out for the origin of the stone, and be aware of keywords that would raise a red flag such as “manmade”, or “dyed”.

One important suggestion I want to add is, if you’re looking to make gemstone jewelry that you will then resell, be sure to offer all information in your finished piece as well.  Be clear about where the stones are from, what they are, whether you’re using sterling silver, and another other information you can provide.  Buyers appreciate the information and will be more likely to make a purchase if they know exactly what they are purchasing.


woman selecting beaded jewelry
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

The price of a product is often a telltale sign of real or fake.  Have you ever wanted to purchase something and the price is so low that it makes you think, “this is way too good to be true”?  If you ever ask yourself that question when purchasing gemstone beads or cabochons, then it probably is too good to be true.  Authentic gemstones are unique and special and rarer than you think, causing their price points to be much higher than their imitation counterparts.   For example, real turquoise is in limited supply and only makes up about 10% of the market and therefore carries a high price. If you’re looking at a 16” strand of Kingman turquoise beads with a price of $75-$100, you are more than likely looking at real turquoise.  If you’re looking at a strand of turquoise with a price of $5, you can be pretty certain it’s not authentic but rather a dyed, altered stone. When making a gemstone purchase, do your homework and research the average prices of those stones and then some comparison shopping.


Another important factor to keep in mind when looking for gemstones is the color and overall appearance of the stone.  Truly natural gemstones like African Opal are only mined, cut, and polished and not altered in any way. They contain blemishes, flaws, and imperfections and no two beads or stones are exactly the same.  An authentic stone will have grooves and divots that you can feel when running your fingernail over the surface.

mixed agate 2
Mixed Agate

If you come across a strand of gemstone beads that are especially colorful, vibrant, smooth, and shiny, like Mixed Agate, it is very likely these beads are dyed and altered in some way.  Let’s take goldstone for example. Goldstone is a very sparkly, copper-colored stone that was made to look like Sunstone, but is not an actual stone. Goldstone is actually made up of glass that is infused with copper to give it that sparkly, sunstone look. So, as you’re looking to purchase gemstones, take into account their overall appearance and be leary of a strand that is overly colorful, and bright.



The last and possibly the most important factor in purchasing real gemstones is buying them from a trusted seller.  A reputable dealer will check all of the above boxes. They should provide a thorough description of the product and be transparent about where the stones are from. In addition, they should disclose if the stones are composite stones and whether they are chemically treated or altered in any way.  Be cautious of a seller that is not forthcoming with this information. Do some research on the seller by checking out their sales review. Consumer reviews are an excellent resource to find out information about a seller, whether that information is good or bad. Lastly, do not shy away from asking the seller for more details or information.  A good vendor should be readily available and willing to answer any additional questions you have about their products.


The market is full of gorgeous gemstone beads and cabochons with hundreds of colors, cuts, and styles to choose from.  If you’re in the market for authentic beads, do your homework and take your time with your purchase so that you can make an informed decision and make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.  If you are on the search for gemstones beads or cabochons, the Potomac Bead Company has hundreds to choose from, including natural and manmade.  If you have any questions about any of the products available, we will be happily answer those for you and make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed purchase.  We will be able to provide you with any and all information you are looking for when making your purchase.  The Potomac Bead staff can also make recommendations to you for which beads or stones to choose that fits within your budget. And lastly, check out our Better Beader Episode on Youtube titled “Are Your Gemstones Real?” for more information and examples on what to look for.

Happy Beading!