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June 9, 2012

SEED BEADS: CUTTING THROUGH THE CONFUSION

Hi all!  I am back from seeing my step-son graduate from High School in Florida!  We are so proud of him!  Now I can get back to blogging, which I have definitely missed!  I was browsing about the net this morning, looking for bead weaving patterns, which I seem to be hoarding.  I haven't been bead weaving for too terribly long, but my searches this morning reminded me of how confusing the different sizes and types of seed beads were for me at the beginning.  So I thought I would do a post about them to try and clear it all up for you!  Read on for more than you ever wanted to know about seed beads!
Mixed Seed Beads
Ah...seed beads...the tiny little components that make up such wonderful creations!  They come in so many sizes, some complete with their own little nick names, no wonder we can find them confusing!  This is my attempt at clearing up the madness for you.
One of the most curious things about seed beads is that they use a numbering system that is counter-intuitive, much like wire.  The smaller the number, the larger the bead.  Conversely, the larger the number, the smaller the bead.  Sounds like its pretty straight forward, but it can get very confusing, especially when just starting out.
Here is a rundown of the most commonly used seed beads by size:
The largest size of a seed bead is 1° ("one-aught") it is usually written as 1/0.  The smallest size is 24/0, which is about the size of a grain of sand. 

LARGE SEED BEADS
Seed beads that are size 5/0 or 6/0 (5° or 6°) are usually called "pony beads".
Next are what are usually called "trade beads".  They are sizes 3/0 and 4/0 (3° and 4°).  The largest seed beads are sizes 1/0 and 2/0 (1°and 2°).  These sizes, and anything larger, are referred to as "crow beads".  
TAKE AWAY: Pony Beads, Trade Beads, and Crow Beads are all large seed beads not normally used in bead weaving.
Pony Beads
SMALLER SEED BEAD SIZES
So let's talk about these smaller seed beads, they are most likely what you will use in your projects. Most bead weavers use seed beads that are size 8/0, 10/0, 11/0, 12/0. 13/0, and 15/0.  Seed beads smaller than size 15/0 are no longer produced, so any smaller than 15/0 are most surely antique!  These smaller beads have many different names and can be confusing.  I will try to simplify it below:
Seed Beads!
COMMON SEED BEAD SHAPES
Cylinder Beads:  These are what I most often use in my bead weaving.  They come from a company called Myuki and they are referred to as "Delicas".  Another company called TOHO also produces cylinder beads, they refer to theirs as "Treasures" or "Aikos".  Cylinder beads are the best for bead weaving because the beads are a very consistent, even size and they stack well.  They also have large holes so you can make many thread passes through them.  They are the highest quality seed beads made today.  Toho also makes a hex cut cylinder beads, and a company called Mill Hill (an American company) sells their brand of brand cylinder beads, but the beads are manufactured by Toho. A company called Preciosa also produces a delica and unica tube bead that have similar qualities.
TAKE AWAY:  Delicas, Treasures, Aikos, and Unicas are all basically the same thing!  They are all cylinder beads with large holes, and great for bead weaving. The term "Cylinder" refers to the shape, not the size.
Rocailles (roh-kai) Beads:  Traditionally, rocailles are round, silver-lined seed beads with square holes. Nowdays Rocaille refers to to all round seed beads used for seed beading. They normally have round holes, but TOHO produces some rocailles with square holes which is supposed to improve the way they stack as you bead.  The most popular rocailles are size 13/0 but they come in sizes 8/0 to 15/0.  
TAKE AWAY: basically all round seed beads can be referred to as Rocialles, which like the term "Cylinder", refers to the bead shape, not its size.
Rocailles
Charlotte Beads: These beads are simply Rocailles that have a single facet. The term "Charlotte" refers to single-faceted beads, but can also be used with 2 or 3 faceted seed beads.  The facets add shine and sparkle to the beaded piece.  The Charlottes that have 2 or 3 facets are also referred to as two-cut and three-cut beads. Some people say that all charlottes are cut beads, but not all cut beads are charlottes. They insist that  it must be a size 13/0 cut to be called a Charlotte.  Others call any cut bead a Charlotte, but if a pattern calls for Charlottes with no size, you can bet it intends for it to be a size 13/0.
TAKE AWAY: Charlottes are size 13/0 seed beads (debatable!) with 1-3 facets.  The term "Charlotte" refers to the bead shape, AND the bead size.
Charlottes: See the facets?
Two-Cut and Three-Cut Beads: Seed beads that have 2 or 3 cuts on them for a more shiny, sparkly effect.  They have a generally irregular look.  TAKE AWAY: Two-Cut and Three-Cut refer to the number of facets cut into a seed bead's face.  The terms "Two-Cut" and "Three-Cut" refer to the bead shape, not its size.
2-Cut Seed Beads
3-Cut Seed Beads
True-Cut Beads: This term refers to all Charlottes other than size 13/0.
True-Cut Beads
COMMON SEED BEAD SHAPES
Hexagon Beads, Triangle Beads, :  These are six-sided seed beads, and three sided beads respectively.
Hex-Cut Beads
Triangle Beads


Square Beads:  These are cube-shaped beads with a large hole. The Preciosa company makes square beads that have a diamond shaped hole, which allows better stacking.  They also produce twisted squares.
Square Seed Beads
Cube Beads:  Cube Beads come in three sizes. Toho cubes have a diamond shaped hole, which ensures that the beads stack correctly.
Cube Seed Beads
Tila Beads:  These are relatively new on the market and made by Myuki.  It is a flat, square bead with two parallel holes.
Tila Beads
Magatama Beads:  These are drop beads with an offset hole.  They are produced by Miyuki and Toho and are larger, wider and broader than standard drop beads. These can also be called Fringe Beads.
Magatama Beads
Oblong Beads:  Oblongs are made by Preciosa.  They are an elongated slightly flattened square or cube with a round hole. They are also available with a beveled hole edge.
Oblong Beads
Peanut Beads: This bead is peanut-shaped and looks like two drop beads side-by-side. The Miyuki Berry seed bead, and the Czech Farfelle are very similar in shape.
Berry Bead
Peanut Bead


Czech Farfelle








Drop Beads:  These beads are drop shaped, come in four sizes, and have a central hole. They are also known as Fringe beads, and Matagmas also fall in the drop bead category.
Drop Beads
Bugle Beads:  These are long, tubular shaped beads that can be twisted or straight, plain, two-cut or hex-cut. 
Bugle Beads
Whew!  I hope that helps someone out there, it certainly was an educational experience for me!  I will cover finishes at a later date.
Is there anything specific that you would like me to post about?  I would love to read your questions, and would love to see any of your bead work!! 
Thanks for following me and...Happy Seed Beading!
Love and Hugs,
Jillie

3 comments:

  1. good posting about SEED BEADS: CUTTING THROUGH THE CONFUSION

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  2. I found a photo of a bracelet that I had designed on one of your Pinterest boards - it came from Bead-Patterns.com and am not sure how you had been able to copy it - it had no link nor the name of the designer's. I have repined it with my name, and would be grateful if you could add a link to your photo please. Many thanks. (It is the RAW Millfiore Bracelet.)

    ReplyDelete

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