All about beads
All about beads
It’s no wonder we use more glass beads than any other kind; there are so many available that it is nearly impossible to catalog them all.
Glass beads are either molded or hand-blown. Molded beads are readily available and can be made in a/most any color of glass; you might find thirty colors of round glass beads available in just one bead store on any given day. Affordability is rarely a problem when buying molded glass beads; your biggest problem will be deciding what you want, since the choices are so numerous.
Hand-blown glass beads can be exquisitely beautiful. Although there are some standards of style and shape that are relatively easy to locate, each bead is the individual work of one particular artist, and therefore unique and precious. Naturally, this is reflected in the price; it is not unusual to pay several dollars for only one very fine bead. But that one gorgeous bead can be the centerpiece for a very fine piece of jewelry, and you”ll forget the price after the first compliment.
Like wood and stone beads, those made of bone have a wonderful natural luster. Because it is quite a durable substance, beads made from bone have lasted millennia: indeed, some of the oldest known objects identifiable as beads are made of bone.
There is a wide range of coloration. especially in those made of horn or tusk. Many bone beads are starting/is white, and others nearly black: there are many rich hues of brown in between. Bone beads are frequently carved.
Synthetic bone beads are a good substitute if you are not concerned with authenticity.
Rough Ceramic Beads
The materials used to create rough ceramic beads are not unlike those used in making decorated ceramic beads; the real difference in their appearance lies in the way the surfaces are treated.
While some “rough” ceramic beads are actually glazed, the glasses themselves are grainy and rough after firing, and the resulting appearance is that of a colored but unglazed bead. While most are molded, some are extruded like pasta. These beads lend to have soft, natural colors like the materials from which they are made, but some variety can be introduced by adding dyes to the clay before forming the beads.
Synthetic Clay Beads
Synthetic clay is truly a modern wonder. With Fimo™. Sculpey™. Cemit™ and Fonnello™. we can make any bead we want to make at any time we want to make it. As a child. I would sit for hours in what was then called a Baby Butler (a table on wheels with me securely enclosed in a seat in the center of it) and make tiny little swans from modeling clay. Now I have tiny little swan earrings, made from tiny little swan
beads, made from tiny little amounts of Fimo. I even made some for my mother.
This activity is now considered artistically correct, even for those of us who suffer from adulthood. There are many fine instructional books on the subject of making clay beads; choose the one that suits you best, buy some clay, and make whatever you want!
The price of a metal bead is largely determined by its precious metal content. Sterling silver beads can be very pricey. while their plated counterparts are remarkably affordable. Gold-filled or gold-plated beads can actually be purchased for less than the average header’s weekly income; however, few people can afford to buy enough 14-carat gold beads at one time to make anything of significance.
But take heart! There are a tremendous number of styles and sizes available in surface-washed base metal beads, which can be breathtak- ingly beautiful. And unless you re intent on impressing someone, the best-kept secret in many jewelry boxes is plastic beads washed with a precious metal finish. They are readily available. lightweight, inexpensive and great-looking. Much more rewarding than buying one gold bead a year and hoping you’ll Hue long enough to finish your necklace!
Some are coated plastic, while others are pearlized glass.
In either case, the imitations can be quite good: it is sometimes necessary to use fhe trick of nibbing the pearl agatnst your teeth to determine if it is the real thing. If a pearl is genuine, the microscopic scales of nacre (the lustrous substance on its surface) will grate against your teeth, causing a very unpleasant sensation. It might be a better idea just to wonder.
Shells have been used in many cultures as a medium of exchange: it no surprise that some people still impart this value to shells, for they can be very precious and beautiful indeed. The “beads’ made from shells are seldom ordinary in shape or size or coloration; often they are strange and irregular, and therefore very interesting. More often, shells will be made Into chips or dangles which may be combined with other beads made of different substances.
Better beading through chemistry! Some of the most exciting beads available are made of plastic. They can be pale and translucent or wildly colorful, crisp-edged or softly molded into gentle flowing shapes. The variation of beads available in plastic is nearly endless.
Plastic offers several advantages to the serious beadworker. not the least
of which is its relative affordability. Plastic imitations of semi-precious beads look great for a fraction of the cost of the genuine article. These beads are lightweight and consistently strong, and since plastic is almost always fabricated by molding, the holes are uniform. This makes plastk an ideal candidate for use on heavier- weight cords or multiple strand cords.
Like other beads made from naturally occurring substances, wooden beads have a special kind of beauty.
They mix well with just about anything; they are lightweight, relatively inexpensive and widely available.
Many varieties of wood are used to make beads: each is unique depending on its grain and finish. Unlacquered wood beads can be soaked in vanilla or fragrant oils and worn as perfume. Beads made from natural sandalwood have the familiar and enticing odor which is often extracted from the wood and used for other purposes.
Go outside, find a nice fat stick, and whittle a bead. Hopefully you will have an occasion to do so while silting on your porch swing as you watch the sun set.
Decorated Ceramic Beads
Ceramic clay and porcelain are often molded or formed into beads. Some are then decorated with glazes and then fired: others are painted with permanent colors after firing with a simple glaze. Decals are frequently added to the surface of the fired ceramic bead. In Peru, artisans add beautiful painted geometric designs to fired с lay beads.
Shapes and sizes are nearly unlimited, and colors are literally unrestricted. One thing to consider when using ceramic beads is that they can be quite heavy. Try combining them lulth lighter-weight materials for better wearability.
Faceted glass Beads
Often loosely called “crystals” faceted glass beads are made in many different shapes and colors.
Two principal methods are used to make faceted glass beads. Molded beads of this type are called “firepolish” because they are treated with heat after molding to create the beautiful smooth finish and clean edges of the beads. They are made from plain glass and are generally available in a wider range of colors and finishes than Austrian- and Czech-cut crystal. Although cut crystal is expensive because it is a time-consuming process compared to molding and uses a better grade of glass, there is a wider range of shapes available.
Finishes can be applied to any faceted glass. The most common is known as Aurora Borealis (AB) finish, which is an iridescent, predominantly green, film applied to the surface of the bead after it is cut or molded. Firepolish heads are available with metallic finishes, often sprayed onto half of the surface of the bead, usually in silver or bronze.
All about beads