Getting Started with Seed Beads


Seed bead work is generally done with needle and thread. This is different than bead stringing or jewellery making, which is done with beading wire and tools.

Work Surface
Use a beading tray or mat where the seed beads will not roll away. A covered work surface would be ideal if you are worried about spills! You can look for the hospital tray type of table which can sit over your lap. Don’t use a bead mat that will pill or shed. I prefer to pour out my beads in little puddles on the bead mat to bead with, rather than pick them out of a container.

Thread
When it comes to beading fibres, every beader has a favourite! There is no right or wrong, only what you prefer.
My preference is beading thread, especially Miyuki beading thread. Beading thread does not necessarily need any preparation, and can usually be used directly off the thread or bobbin. (Again, many beaders have other routines). Thread gives beadwork a soft “hand” and is comfortable to work with.

Nylon braided line (i.e. Fireline) has become a favourite with many beaders. It is great to use when you are using beads that may have sharp corners, i.e. crystals and some bugles. It does not stretch, but can feel slippery to use.

Beading Needles
Again, every beader has their own favourites! You will want a beading needle with a narrow eye, rather than a sewing needle, which has a larger eye. Beading needles come in various sizes and lengths. Choose a length you are comfortable with, and the size should correspond to your bead size i.e. use a size 12 beading needle with a size 12 bead.

Lighting
Use a good true colour lamp or work in natural daylight. Use a magnifier if necessary, or reading glasses. It is so much easier to bead when you can see the beads!

Storage
The fun part! Storing and sorting your beads is part of the enjoyment. Many styles of storage containers are available, and you will want to be sure to use something that separates the beads so they will not spill into each other if the container is overturned. Also choose containers for small beads that are easy to pour the beads into and out of as needed.

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