Archive for the ‘Beads & Beading Supplies’ Category

Types of Seed Beads

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Seed Bead TypesSeed beads are those tiny beads that were first made around 1550 in Venice, Italy. They were a less expensive replacement for seed pearls, which were a very popular ornament for high-fashion clothing worn by the very rich. The real pearls were remarkably rare and expensive.

A hundred years later, the French made slightly larger beads called rocailles, which were faster and easier to make than the original seed beads. These days the difference is not considered, and the terms seed and rocaille both refer to the same type of bead.

Some beads got modified by having a facet ground into one side. They reflect light and have a definite sparkle. These are called charlotte beads.

In 1575 the English made bugle beads. These are very different and are made from tubes of leaded glass. A silver lining makes them sparkle. Bugle beads are longer than they are wide and come in a variety of lengths. Be careful – sometimes they have sharp edges.

Cylinder beads have straight walls and large holes. The early ones were very large and were known as pony beads. The Native Americans often wove them into their ponies’ manes – hence the name.

Please keep in mind that all of these beads were made by hand and required lots of time and attention to detail. They were an expensive luxury. It was not until the early 1800s that seed beads could be made by machines. Mass production reduced the cost considerably.

In 1983, the Japanese Miyuki company introduced tiny cylinders called delicas. You can read about how Miyuki seed beads are made in the Harlequin Beads bead library. You can see additional variations like tila, hex, cube and triangle in Harlequin’s seed bead section.

by Beverly

When to Use Stretch Magic Cord

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Sample bracelets strung with Stretch MagicUse Stretch Magic cord for stringing bracelets and anklets when you want to avoid adding a clasp. You can use it to make rings, too.

This stretchy cord is so simple to use. You don’t need a needle or pliers. You string beads on the cord and finish your jewelry piece by tying a neat and tidy square knot – right over left, and left over right – then dabbing a little glue or clear nail polish to secure the knot. Let the glue/nail polish dry and snip off the extra cord with scissors – the only tool you’ll need besides your own hands.

Your finished piece will slip on and off like a breeze. If and when your stretchy jewelry breaks, you can restring it in minutes – and Stretch Magic is super affordable.

The drying time for the glue/nail polish is the only part that requires time, but the bracelets are otherwise completed in minutes.

I never worked with stretchy cord before, because stretch bracelets weren’t my style. I recently picked up a spool of this stringing material for my mom’s sake. She casually mentioned one day that she couldn’t wear many of her favorite bracelets anymore. She reminded me that she’s now 81 years old with arthritis in her hands, and she simply can’t work those small clasps anymore.

I restrung one bracelet on Stretch Magic cord. As is my habit, I had to restring it a second time with extra spacers, because I miscalculated the length the first time. Argh! I think I shaved a couple minutes off during my second attempt. I immediately felt like a stretchy-bracelet expert.

I’ve strung quite a few stretch bracelets now, including one for myself with double-drilled beads I’d had lying around for a few years. Every time, I’m delighted with the result. I’ll try not to get too dependent on the stretchy stuff.

Stretch Magic Bead & Jewelry Cord is a strong yet light-weight stretchy cord used for making bracelets, anklets and rings – a great choice for easy jewelry and beaded craft projects. This is the preferred stretch cord used by beaders, because it is non-fading, resilient, non-cracking and is available in different thicknesses for small or large beads. Not only is Stretch Magic easy to work and knot, it’s so comfortable to wear.

All of the bracelet kits pictured can be found in Harlequin’s jewelry-design-ideas section, along with illustrations and instructions on how to make each piece.

by Margit

Organize Your Beads

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

“Where are my Miyuki 310 black matte beads?!!”

It was 4 AM on a Sunday morning, and I’d been beading all night. Now, I was looking for some matte black delicas to finish a project. Where were they?!! I couldn’t find them anywhere. They had to be there somewhere!

Well, I turned the house upside down, and when my husband John came home from a field exercise, he found me in tears with little bags of beads all over the living room. He had been in the desert for two weeks and came home filthy and exhausted. That great man was so calm and understanding. All he did was wrap me in his arms and start to laugh.

Here we were. We could face instantaneous deployments, long overseas separations, change-of-station orders telling us we had to move with a week’s notice – all faced with a calm demeanor – yet here I was crying because I couldn’t find the beads I wanted. We held on to one another till I couldn’t cry anymore and had to start laughing, too.

That was the day the spreadsheets began. (more…)

The Power of Color

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Knotted string necklaces in three thread and bicone color variationsMy favorite thing to do is experiment with color combinations. I am always amazed at how incredibly different a necklace with the same beads will look on a different color of thread.

These pictures show my latest creations that I have been busy making for my booth at the upcoming Oregon Country Fair. I used the same color mix of freshwater pearls but strung each necklace with a  different color of thread and crystal accents that match the thread. I used golden shadow Swarovski crystal bicones with the beige thread, jet with the black, and crystal copper with the carnelian.

I really enjoy making these necklaces knotted on silk. This technique is fast and easy, uses less beads than traditional stringing, and yields a beautiful necklace with a nice drape. Mona recently recorded a great knotted bead necklace video on this technique based on her beginning knotting class that she has been teaching for years.

Come visit me at my booth #22  at Country Fair to see the other combinations I cooked up!

by Stacy

Rainy Monday

Monday, June 4th, 2012

I just saw the lightening flash and heard the thunder crash. The temperature dropped and it suddenly cool. What happened to summer? Today I’ll act like it’s fall. A cup of warm cocoa and a new bead pattern. Actually it’s an old pattern but one of my favorites – a black cat with golden eyes. This time he will have green eyes and a matching collar. Hopefully, it will be done in a couple of weeks and I’ll have a photo ready to share.

(Here are the photos of the original Mysti Kitty in black and the new Mysti Kitty in white to brighten the rainy day mood. Photos added 7/18/12)

mysti kitties

Do you have any photos of your favorite pieces? We’d love to have you share with everyone in our gallery.

by Beverly

Amethyst – the Purple Quartz Gemstone

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Purple Amethyst Round and Faceted BeadsBrilliant. Regal. Royal. Purple. Amethyst is the queen of all the quartz gems. Just a trace of (more…)

Seed Bead Sizes

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Ever wonder about the size numbers on the beads you buy?  What is size 11/0 or 11s, 13/0 or 13s, or tiny 15s? Who created this byzantine code? (more…)

Rose Quartz, the Heart Stone

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Rose Quartz BeadsRose quartz contains trace amounts of (more…)

What is Quartz?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The most common elements in the earth’s crust are (more…)