Bead Knowledge Center - All ABout Seed Beads
New to seed beads? Using them awhile and still have questions? Here is a short tutorial on shapes, sizes, qualty and more...
In seed beads, quality can be measured in regularity. Thus the best quality seed bead is one in which the beads are all consistent and the worst quality are ones in which the beads are very mis-matched. However, even the mis-matched beads can be charming if you want a primitive look or working with French Beaded Flowers where the inconsistent beads give a wavey look. But be careful... sometimes the low quality beads have sharp edges that can cut your thread. In seed beads, the old adage, "You get what you pay for", is totally true. The most expensive seed beads are usually the best qualtity.
Countries of Origin
Seed beads come from a few countries and different manufacturers: Japan (Miyuki, Matsuno and Toho are three companies), Czech Republic (Ornela and Jablonex are two companies), China (Ming-Tree is one company) and India to name a few.
Japanese beads come in two styles: tubular and round. Tubular beads are Miyuki Delicas and Toho Treasures. Miyuki also sells round style seed beads. Most Matsuno beads are of the round style. In my opinion, Miyuki is the highest quality, whether their Delicas or their round beads.
The Czech Republic is known for their glass beads, shapes and seed beads. The seed beads come in all the sizes, but frequently are size 10 and 13 rather than 11 and 15. They also have a style called a Charlotte which has a single facet cut into the bead, making it sparkle. Czech beads are all the round style. In my opinion, these are pretty good and they have some really great colors (like 61016 is my favorite and is a fushia lined/aqua overlay that comes in 3 sizes), but they are not as good quality as Miyuki.
Chinese beads are pretty good. I buy some, but not enough to say more than this. Indian beads are the lowest quality, but are still useful.
Seed beads come in a variety of shapes. The most commonly used one is what is normally called Seed Beads which are either Cylindrical (Tubular) or Round (see next paragraph). However, seed beads also come in other shapes... squares, rectangles, bugles (thin tubes), triangles, fringe (also called drop beads) and hex. All these also come in different sizes.
Seed bead styles come in etiher Cylindrical or Round. Cylindrical (also called Tubular) beads are better for jewelry patterns because they are more regular and thus fit together to form the pattern better (as when stitching in peyote or brick or when making a fringe pattern). However, round beads are good for many other applications. In bead emboridery, if one uses the backstitch to fill in a background, you get a totally different look using cylindrical or round beads - one is not better than the other, they are just different.
The most frequently used round or cylindrical seed bead is a size 11 shown as 11 or 11° or 11/0. Rounds also come in size 6 (also called an E-bead), 8, 10, 12, 13, and 15; cylindricals come in 8, 11, 10, and 15. One can consider 10-12 to be equivalent and 13-15 to be equivalent. The higher the number, the smaller the bead. You can try to remember this by the following: how many beads in a line take up a linear inch? It would take more 15s to do this than 6s, thus 15s have to be smaller.
Here are sizes of the other shapes:
- Bugles come in #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and by the mm
- Fringe/Drops come in 3.4mm and 4mm
- Hex come in 8°s; Twisted Hex come in 10°s
- Squares some in 3mm and 4mm
- Triangles come in 11°s and 8°s
But how big are they? Click here for a chart of approximate sizes of both round seed beads and bugles. That chart also shows suggested needle and thread sizes.
Wow - there is so much to say we put this on another page.
Wow - again, too much to say here so we put this info on another page.
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