Glass seed beads are small but precious beads used in numerous beading techniques. Sometimes called “rocailles”, it was one of the first glass beads I ever encountered. Guess I bought a lot… since my beading stash is full of them But truth is you can’t have too much when they’re so useful. I still add some of my first seeds in new projects.
The best quality glass seed beads come from Japan and the Czech republic. Other countries also produce seed beads, but they tend to be more irregular in shape and come in a more limited color range.
Japanese glass seed beads
These seed beads are even in size and shape. With large holes they are perfect for off-loom bead weaving, when the thread passes through the beads multiple times. You can buy japanese glass seed beads in tubes or packages from sizes 15.0 (1,5 mm) to 6.0 (4mm) The manufacturers are Matsuno, Miyuki an Toho.
Czech glass seed beads
In size and shape the glass Czech seed beads are slightly more irregular than japanese ones, but they are very useful all-purpose beads. They are shaped like ovals with the holes running though the narrow part. They come in the sizes from 16.0 (1,3 mm) to 6.0 (4 mm).
- Japanese cylinder beads are small cylindrical beads that have very thin walls and large holes. They give an even and regular fabric of beads when stitched together.
- Hexcut beads have six sides and look like hexagons when viewed from the end. The blunt ends can be very sharp. Consider good quality wire or thread.
- Triangle beads are available in sizes 5.0-12.0. The ones from Toho have sharp corners, while the ones from Miuyki have rounded.
- Cube beads are small square beads that come in 1.5 mm, 2 mm, 3 mm, 3,4 mm and 4 mm. Both Toho and Miuyki has them.
- Drop beads are sometimes called “teardrops”. Available in in sizes ranging from 3,1 mm to 6 mm. Both available in Japanese and Czech manufacturers.
- Bugle beads are like long skinny tubes and range in size from 2 mm to 30 mm. These are also available at japanese and czech manufacturers. They come in straight and twisted varieties.
Which glass seed beads for your project?
Round seed beads make nice, small strands or work well as spacers between larger beads. Cylindrical ones are best for woven projects because they fit together like a puzzle. Look for beads that are consistent in size and shape.
There are also many different finishes from which to choose. Pick the right one for your design based on the overall effect you want to achieve. Silver-lined beads are transparent on the outside with a silver lining inside, which adds a bright metallic shine to beaded designs. Matte seed beads are subtler and can add a touch of color without a lot of shine.
When you’re out on bead hunting it’s easy to be confused by all the “eye candy” in front of you. That’s when I try to imagine my project in front of me to see if a particular bead really fits the design. It takes some practice to see which seed bead goes where. But don’t worry you’ll learn, it’s not like you can’t try them at home!