Shapes of Beads

Beads come in dozens of shapes and hundreds of sizes, colors, textures and styles. They are combined in an infinite variety of designs, or featured as a single specimen. Beads decorate everything from clothing to household objects, including burial clothing in ancient cultures.

Although by no means an exhaustive list, following is a sampling of some of the most-used shapes of beads. Keep in mind that local custom, artisans, and materials may dictate the shape of the beads used in the ancient world.

In the modern world, new and old beads are still widely bought and sold. Artisans, jewelers, hobbyists, and cottage-industry craftspeople create beaded items in great numbers. The public eagerly buys their products and continues to support the industry with their patronage.

Seed: Usually made of glass, but sometimes made of plastic, seed beads are the tiny, usually translucent beads used by Native Americans for their detailed beadwork. Seed beads are also used by jewelry-makers to weave or sculpt into earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.

Round: A popular shape for the millefiori beads of Venice, round beads are simply spheres drilled through with a hole for stringing. Round beads made of precious or semi-precious stones are usually faceted, but not always. More common gemstones are sometimes, but not usually, faceted.

Rondelle: Disk-shaped and predominantly used as spacers, rondelles help transition from one type of bead to another, or they break up a vast expanse of like beads. One popular form of a rondelle is a line of crystals on its edge, which is the only part visible when strung.

Oval: Similar to rounds, oval beads are simply an elongated circle, tapered at each end. The hole is drilled through the long axis of the bead. They occupy a lot of space on a string of beads. Ovals are sometimes applied vertically to the hem or neckline of a garment.

Rectangle: Slightly puffy rectangles, usually made of ceramic, plastic or glass, rectangle beads add an unusual form to the usually rounded edges of beads. Also made in a "square" version, rectangles or squares become diamonds if their holes are drilled from corner to corner.

Tube: In all sizes from tiny tubes the size of grains of rice up to tubes as large as ziti pasta, tube beads are streamlined, but take up a lot of visual space when strung.

Rice: Similar in size to tubes, rice beads are shaped more like an actual grain of rice. They are tapered ever so slightly at the ends, just like the real thing.

These are only a few of the many different shapes and styles of beads in use today and throughout history.



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Make A Model Of Your Favorite Cartoon Character With Seed Beads

A German artist has recently gained attention for creating a series of magnificent mini sculptures of Pokemon characters out of just seed beads and wire. These little creations look just like the characters that they are emulating, but they have been painstakingly created from a very unusual medium. Although seed beads can be used for a lot of different things, such as jewelry making, cushion design and to jazz up clothing, not many people have used them as the main component in models. However, if you have the time and the patience, you too can make models out of small beads and wire.

If you want to make a model, first you need to decide which character or design that you want to create. Although you can make Pokemon characters for your own enjoyment or to practice on, it may be a better idea to come up with your own ideas if you want to sell them, so that you can have a unique selling point. It is best to start with a relatively simple character, because the beads and wire can be difficult to work with at first.

Once you have chosen the character that you want to create, you will need to go about making a basic design sketch so that you can consider the best way to be able to create the model. It is best to start with the main body of the figure and then add on appendages, such as arms and legs at the end.

To begin working, you will need a range of different colors of seed beads and some strong yet flexible jewelry wire. You should also use some jewelry making pliers, so that you can bend the wire easily. Although this wire can be bent by hand, you will find that you are able to bend it with increased precision if you use the correct tools. There are two main ways with which you can craft the main body of the figurine. You can either wind single (or multiple pieces) up into the correct shape, or you can interlay pieces over one another. The style which works best for you will probably depend on what shape you are trying to craft.

It is easiest to put the seed beads in position as you are crafting the frame, as this will help you to shape the model. This will help you to get the right width, based on the width of each individual bead. It will also allow you to create bends and turns in the wire frame of the model which you may otherwise be unable to get beads past, if you were to try to complete the frame before adding the beads. To complete the frame, bend about 0.75cm of the wire around the last of the seed beads, and then twist it back on itself between the last two beads, so that it stays firmly in place. Make sure that there are no sharp bits sticking out on the model.



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Seed Bead Projects and Bugle Bead Projects - Doughnut Versus Straw

What is the difference between seed beads and bugle beads?

One way which you can separate the difference is seed beads are round like a doughnut and bugle beads are shaped like hollow stems or a straw. Each has its purpose in connecting or creating designs in making jewelry, home decorations, and wearable art.

Seed beads are usually made out of glass, but available in plastic as well. They are shaped like a doughnut with a small to large singular hole. In America many of the seed bead projects are found as Indian bead work in medicine bags, head bands, and Indian jewelry of necklaces, and bracelets. Seed beads were also used as trims on original Indian dress and their moccasins.

Hex seeds are used in the same manner as the delica seeds, however, a word of warning; I have experienced uneven sharp edges on the hex seeds cutting the thread. It is best to get another thread, to not trust the existing thread to hold over time. The delica seeds have a smooth interior and will not cause weak threads.

Three-cut beads are very attractive in gold and silver and are used heavily in evening or fancy work. I use these beads often in my bead weaving because:

    These beads make excellent spacers
    They add glamour
    They fill in tiny areas of exposed beading thread
    They maintain alignment of larger beads which is critical for allowing soft curving

Larger pebble seed beads are smooth on both interior and exterior surface, easy to thread and no fear of threads being cut. Similar to the standard bead; just larger.

Bugle beads are long and narrow; a hollow stem. Bugle bead projects are used in bead weaving and hand loom applications. A common finishing technique is to attach a seed bead at each end to give a finishing touch to the appearance of the bugle bead.

The handicap when working bugle bead projects in weaving is finding a needle very fine in size with long length to hold many beads and the strength to hold the thread. The next problem is for the interior hole of the bugle bead to be large enough for the needle and the thread to pass through twice.

Many bugle beads have been smashed under my needle pliers because the thread could not pass through. You are probably asking why destroy the bead?

When stringing twenty four beads to a strand and the eleventh bead does not cooperate, would you want to start all over again? To give you a better picture of this scenario, this is typical when stringing fringe lengths.




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