If you are new to beading, you might be wondering what's the difference between Fireline and Wildfire? Like you, when I first started, I read comments or posts where people recommended using Fireline. But when I went to Michael's all they had was this stuff called Wildfire. I remember sitting in the car and wondering "Did I buy the right thing?"
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The difference between the 2 is like the difference between Coke and Pepsi. They are both colas, but they taste different and people usually prefer one and hate the other one.
The opinions expressed in this article are strictly mine, and yes, I prefer Fireline.
How Are They The Same
They are both thermally bonded thread, which makes them incredibly strong, waterproof, resistant to fraying and will last a long time. Have you ever had an old piece of jewelry where the thread just started to disintegrate? They thread easily through a needle without wax, although you have to pinch the end with your teeth or a pair of pliers, especially Wildfire.
I dispute the claim that they don't fray as I've had both fray if I'm using beads with sharp edges. The more I've had to back up and pull the beads out the more I find Wildfire will start to fray.
Wildfire is made in the USA by Beadalon. One of it's main advantages is that it comes in 6 colors: Frost, Black, Red, Green, Grey and Blue. This range of colors gives you greater versatility over your projects. Remember, the thread color isn't just seen where it comes in and out of the beads, but it affects the color of transparent beads as well.
It comes in 2 thicknesses: .006 inches (.15mm) and .008 inches (.20mm). I can barely get the .006 through a size 10 needle, to give you a reference. It's my opinion that Wildfire is thicker than Fireline. Whereas Fireline looks and feels like fishing line, Wildfire does not.
Since it has been a few years since I tried Wildfire, I thought I would try it again so that it was fresh in my mind for writing this article. I used the green Wildfire on my Sunset bracelet and the red on my Red Pansies bracelet (coming soon). I can still say I'm not that crazy about it. For me, it constantly knots up and I have a terrible time getting it threaded through the needle. I do like the color variations however and wish Fireline came in more colors.
Fireline is actually fishing line. The story goes that a woman brought her beading project with her on a fishing trip with her husband. She thought her trip was completely ruined when she discovered that she forgot her thread. They were on a remote island in the Bahamas, no craft store to run out to. Out of despair and boredom, desperate, she searched through her husband's fishing line looking for anything she might use. She found her husband's thinnest fishing line and miraculously it fit through her needle. Her vacation and her sanity was saved! (This, of course, is strictly fiction, but Berkley agrees with me that it sounds pretty good!)
I asked Berkley, the makers of Fireline, how it came to be used as a beading thread, and they have no idea. Let's face it, the amount of Fireline sold to beaders is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount sold to fisherman. Just think of how much is spooled onto one fishing rod, compared to how much you use in 1 bracelet. That is why Beadsmith handles the distribution of Fireline to the bead stores and that is why you will see their name on it too, Unless you are a big retailer like Fire Mountain Gems, then Berkley will sell to you directly. Hence, their Fireline has their name on it, not Beadsmith.
Colors and Sizes
Fireline comes in 3 colors: Crystal, Smoke and Black Satin. The smoke will rub off on your hands, which is probably why they came out with Black Satin. You can wipe it with a dryer sheet to remove the residue.
Because it's fishing line, it comes in pounds test weight, 4lb, 6lb, 10lb, etc. As beaders, we have to translate that to diameter so that we will know if it's going to fit through our needle. I find the 6lb/.006 inches to be my go-to all around thread. If they are out of 6lb, or if I'm doing a netting project that will require multiple passes through the same bead, especially a size 15 Delicas or rocaille, then I will go with 4lb. I'm not sure you could even use WIldfire for this purpose.
Pricing and Where to Find
Wildfire and Fireline are priced about the same, but because Fireline is primarily sold as fishing line, you can buy it cheaper at sporting goods stores.
The big box craft stores, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, JoAnns etc. only carry Wildfire, but both are readily available on the internet as long as you are not desperate and need it today.
Or you can throw either one into your shopping cart on Amazon.
Which do you prefer? Fireline or Wildfire? Let me know if you've been using Fireline for a long time, I'm really curious just how long it's been used as beading thread.