Seed Beads 101

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Organized Seed Beads

Introduction to seed beads

From Nigerian waist beads, to tiny flower necklaces, and Staud Tommy Beaded Bags – you’ve seen them incorporated in tons of things. Seed beads have infiltrated our spring and summer wardrobes year after year. Seed beads are tiny glass beads that have been around since the 1500s in projects that required trades such as Bead Embroidery, Bead Stringing, and Bead Weaving. Whether your DIY project is short, long, simple, intricate, kid friendly or expertise level – you can count on seed beads as a great option to get the job done. 

Like tiny legos, you can shape your seed beads to be anything you desire. Their multipurpose physique is what attracted the eyes so long ago and keeps them trending in accessories you see today. Seed beads are the base of traditional waist bead designs, accents in embroidery projects, the shiny details in ball gowns, and flirty beaded bags. Seed beads can turn into anything you want them to but finding the perfect ones for your particular projects can be difficult. 

Picking Seed Beads

Size, uniformity, finish, and shape, are the top 4 attributes of seed beads that you’ll use while shopping for seed bead projects. The variety of distinctions seed beads have are out of this world and something to inform yourself on prior to use. While searching for seed beads you’ll see a lot listed as Toho Seed Beads, Miyuki Seed Beads , and Matsuno Seed Beads which originate in Japan, along with Czech seed beads. These beads are all well known for specializing in the uniform production of particular shapes, this is not the only attribute of a seed bead, think of it as their origin based nickname. Here’s what you’ll need to know: 

  • Sizes are commonly formatted as “Size 6/0” or “Size 11/0”. These sizes are not equivalent to their width in millimeters, however, the sizing is equivalent to the amount of beads you would be able to fit into an inch using that size. 
  • Uniformity ensures that all of your beads are the same shape and size without defects. When mass producing it’s easy for machines to mess up beads with no remorse, sometimes they’ll melt together as one or be made as half a bead. For the sake of your project coming out flawless go with a brand that has positive reviews and succeeds in high quality uniform seed beads.
  • The finish on your glass beads will depend on whether you would like to hide, utilize, or amplify the color of the string underneath. Metal lined, metal plated, inside colored, and basic opaque seed beads are great for hiding your bead. A transparent finish showcases your colorful string while transparent ab and matte frosted finishes will accentuate it. 
  • Seed bead shapes are the most fun part! Some are better than others for particular projects. Flat peyote stitch lovers tend to use round, o-beads, and tubes. Those making funky dangly earrings may use an arrangement including square, hex, cube, bugle, or miyuki long magatama. 

Whenever you’re ready, seed beads are pretty easy to find so count them in on your next beading project. They are sold online and locally by small businesses, large retail wholesalers, and your local retired beaders as well. Art supply stores such as Blick and Michaels will carry seed beads but check around for your local bead shops to support small businesses that specialize in what you are looking for. 

Let us know what your favorite or most anticipated seed bead project is in the comment section below.

Happy Beading!