If you are in love with beads and bead jewelry or any kind of bead product you know the feelings of joy as you walk down aisles of a crafts store and see beautiful displays of beads. Do you know the different types of beads and which type to purchase for your beading projects?
Some things you may want to consider before purchasing beads for beading projects are:
What is the purpose or use of the beaded project? For example if you are making a pair of earrings, you don’t want to choose heavy weight beads necessarily, although I have seen some long dangling earrings that look extremely heavy and there are people who do not mind the weight but just want the look. But the project you are making will determine the type of beads to use, so you first need to decide what exactly you want to make from beads.
Larger beads means you will need to most likely purchase less in number, however, larger beads will be more expensive as well.
After you decide how many beads you will need to purchase then decide upon the type of beads and jewelry findings to purchase. For example, if you want an antique look in your earring designs then purchase antique copper or antique bronze jewelry findings. Antique copper and antique bronze jewelry components mixed with just about any kind of bead will have that “vintage” look in a finished product.
Maybe you want a Midwestern piece or an American Native Indian look, then you might go with wood beads or turquoise beads and maybe even a mixture of these beads together for necklaces and earrings if it is jewelry you are making. You can use beads in a variety of other projects such as handbags and on clothing. I saw just recently a beautiful material handbag that had a bead handle resembling a bead or bead bracelet, very pretty and would be easy to make.
The theme of your project always determines what type of beads, what sizes and what colors to purchase. You might also like to just pick out different beads in styles and colors you like and then allow the creative juices to flow as you look over your stash of beads and jewelry findings to complete beading projects. And of course any pattern you are following from online blogs, books or magazines will give you exact size and quantity of beads to use as well as colors of which you can substitute however you wish to do.
In the category of glass beads there are sub categories as well. There are fire polished, plain, faceted cuts, blown glass, lamp work beads and the Aurora Borealis beads that are so well known for their extra sparkling effects. There are Czech glass beads and beautiful sparkling Swarovski glass crystal beads to choose from as well. The world of beads is a fascinating place to journey through. Anytime you see the word “Czech Glass” or Swarovski Glass Beads” you can pretty well count on good quality in those brand name beads.
As you progress through beading projects using kits or patterns from others, you will learn many different terms that applies just to the art of beading. It is not such an important thing that you need to study it for any length of time as you will learn it as you go along most of the time. However, it is still a good idea to have a grasp of what is available on the market today.
I see a lot of beads in packages at Wal mart nowadays. They are labeled “glass beads,” but lack the sparkle I like to see as is in the Czech and Swarovski Glass beads. The packages are low priced as well and may be good for a starting beader to learn techniques from, but in my opinion, I still like to get good quality beads to work with. Some of these beads I am seeing are plastic and acrylic. I don’t much like the acrylic beads, although I do like the acrylic flower beads I am using a lot in Carmilita’s Flowers In Bloom jewelry projects. There are exceptions in that some acrylic beads are even better than others. There is high quality and low quality in everything you buy, even with beads.
Metal beads are a popular bead many beaders work with today. Hematite metal beads come in numerous varieties of magnetic and non-magnetic types. Some of the highest quality in hematite metal beads are those which are somewhat heavy-weight with a nice perfect finish. They make excellent focus beads or accents for bead jewelry bracelets and necklaces.
Skull and pirate beads are interesting to work with around the Halloween season for making Halloween jewelry. Look for lead-free zinc alloy metal in these type of beads and charms.
Many beaders like using pearls in their designs. I am one of those. There are high quality Czech glass pearl beads as well as Freshwater Pearls that are offered in numerous sizes and colors by many bead retail outlets. I rather use “glass” pearls than acrylic pearls.
Spacer beads in sterling silver, silver plated, gold plated, antique bronze, antique copper, antique silver, gunmetal, hematite and rhinestone covered are essential in building jewelry designs. These are sort of like “staples” in a beader’s stash that you can purchase in greater quantities when on sale.
Miyuki brand Japanese square beads make interesting additions to beading designs. Choose ones made by the makers of Delica for the highest quality in this type of bead. They will add a very unique touch to your beading projects.
As you can see in this brief article there is a whole new world out there just made up of “beads.” It is a creative journey for anyone looking for something fun to do as a hand craft and also makes great gift ideas as well.
Written by: Connie Limon, Bead Jewelry Artisan
2 Silver Plated 11 x 15 mm Leverback Earrings
2 Silver Plated Head Pins
2 Silver Plated Eyepins
2 Silver Plated 4 x 10 mm 7-Leaf Bead Caps
2 Silver-Plated 2 x 8 mm Filigree Bead Caps
4 Silver-plated 4 mm Ridged Round Metal Beads
2 Silver-Plated 2 x 6 mm Beaded Rondelles
2 Yellow 6 x 12 mm Flower Beads
2 Melon 7 x 10 mm Flower Beads
2 Sunburst 4 mm Glass Crystal Bicones
2 Emerald 11 x 7 mm Glass Crystal Teardrop Beads