Took idea from a rough sketch to a product on the shelf
Product dramatically reduces time and skill required to make quality beaded necklace
Created fully functional, looks-like prototypes for testing and sales
Patented and licensed by a major craft company and now available nationwide
Where they were
Where we took them
An inventor had a good idea and a rough prototype for a better beading tool.
Objex took the core idea and created an elegant tool that is functional, stylish, and manufacturable. The Knot-a-Bead was licensed by Beadalon and is now available in retail stores nationwide.
A Hard Knot Life
In 2013 a local jeweler walked into Objex HQ with an 8 pound wooden prototype and a dream. He proceeded to explain how the life of a beaded necklace-maker is a hard one. A good strand should have knots tied right up against the beads or pearls, otherwise the necklace looks janky. Unfortunately, this is surprisingly difficult to do consistently. So what’s a casual crafter to do? They could use the one tool that was on the market, but it requires hours of practice (or a third hand) to use effectively. Or they could pay a professional a ridiculous hourly rate to tie their knots for them. Fortunately for the craft world, this local jeweler had a solution.
The existing tool uses a retractable pin that allows the knot to be pulled tighter and tighter until it is locked in flush against the bead. Our jeweler-turned-inventor had taken this concept one step further by creating a way to hold the bead and strand in place so the user has an extra hand free to tie the knot. After a few minutes with his bulky prototype, even our clumsiest engineer could tie a professional-looking string of pearls. The path forward was clear: refine the function of the tool and turn that clever pile of paint sticks and velcro into an elegant product worthy of a craft catalog centerfold.
The first step was to break down the current prototype, identifying the key components and removing redundant ones. We then created a modular prototype that allowed us to test different component sizes and orientations. After some testing and iteration we had identified an optimized design that was easy to use and allowed for almost any size bead and strand. Additionally, we designed a more advanced pin that tapered and bent in such a way to make knot-tying quicker and easier. It was time to move on to styling.
A Bead on Style
We approached styling with an eye on the stores where the tool would be sold. Creating a simple and elegant shape was a given, but in a nod to crafters through the ages we used the classic sewing machine as inspiration for the overall shape. More than a styling gimmick, the form accomplished the function of allowing the bead and string to pass around the needle while still supporting the hook. Plus it looks slick.
Tied and True
As always our engineers were involved every step of the way, so when the final form was determined, it was quick work to CAD the individual components so they were structurally sound, easy to assemble, and ready to be injection molded. We also worked with a number of machinists to ensure that our new pin design would be easy to manufacture. The final touches included a logo, embossing, and specifying good non-slip feet for the base. The Knot-a-Bead was ready for primetime.
License and Registration Please
So it turns out there’s no such thing as a centerfold in a craft catalog, but we were happy to settle for a two-page spread. After the design was completed, our jeweler-turned-inventor was able to file for a utility patent and license the product to Beadalon who was so excited about their new toy they featured it prominently in their annual catalog. We introduced the inventor to a solid manufacturing team and they set to work cranking out thousands of Knot-a-Beads. Thanks to a great idea and top-notch design and execution, you can now get your own Knot-a-Bead at any Walmart, Joann’s, or countless other craft stores across the country.