Review of Popular Bead Coatings and their Durability

 

We have all been there.  You find a gorgeous new beading pattern or video and can’t wait to start it.  Then, after selecting the colors, spending over an hour hunched over your bead mat, and sharing your accomplishment on your favorite online beading group, the finish on your beads starts wearing off!  You want to scream!

This is an experience far too many of us have had.  While it is impossible to predict exactly how each particular coating will wear over time, there are some finishes that have a better track record than others.  I recently conducted an experiment of my own to test the durability of some of the popular coatings in both Czech Glass and Miyuki Seed Beads.

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Galvanized Smoky Mauve & Duracoat Galvanized Champagne Miyuki Seed Beads

THE EXPERIMENT

I began by selecting a number of colors of DiscDuo bead.  I selected this bead for it’s flat surface.  This allows for more of the bead to have contact with my skin allowing for maximum wear.  I also selected Duracoat Galvanized Champagne and Galvanized Dusty Mauve to test the durability of Galvanized compared to Duracoat Galvanized.

I used peyote stitch to create my project.  Using 4 of each color DiscDuo, I worked my pattern keeping each set of 4 together.  This allowed the color blocks to be compared easily from week to

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week.  The Miyuki seed beads were alternated in stripes at the beginning and end of my project and throughout the peyote stitch.  The length of the experiment ran for 30 days, wearing the bracelet about 5 days per week (and occasionally in the shower).

THE RESULTS : CZECH COATINGS

After the 30 days were up, I documented the bracelet for the last time.  I compiled the photos that best showed the progress over time.

Bead Coatings
Colors listed in the left column show the most wear at that specific stage

 

TOP OFFENDERS

1. Capri Gold Full: This finish, on a jet color bead in this case, wore off the fastest of all the colors tested.  After only 2 days of wear, it was obvious that is was coming off quickly.  After the 30 day mark, almost all of the coating was off on the side of the bracelet that had been worn facing my skin.

2. Amber:  Amber’s change was less noticeable since it was over a crystal bead and the contrast was less striking.  The wear was slightly less than the Capri Gold, but still showing signs of wear at day 2.

3. Sunset: Crystal Sunset was the third color to start showing signs of wear.  Similar to the Capri Gold and Amber, it was almost completely gone from some beads at the end of 30 days.

4. Crystal Sliperit Matted: It was a surprise to me that this color wore off as much as it did.  The other matte color I used, Vitrail Matte, did not show any signs of wear.  At the end of 30 days, the color seemed to have rubbed off the surface, but some had remained in the crevices of the textured (matted) surface.

5. Aztec Gold: The previous colors mentioned seemed to gently rub off over time, however the Aztec Gold was more susceptible to getting scratches.  At the end of my experiment, there was some noticeable wear from rubbing against my skin, but very little in comparison to Capri Gold, Amber, or Sunset.

 

THE RESULTS: MIYUKI GALVANIZED COATINGS

As I expected, the Miyuki Duracoat Galvanized coatings showed much less wear than the Galvanized.  On the Galvanized seed beads, the color at the end of 30 days was either

Untitled-1
The Galvanized seed beads have almost completely lost their color.

flaking off or completely off all the beads.  The color did hold up better in areas where there was less chance for beads to rub against each other or my skin.

The area of most wear was the loop I created for the button closure.  The Galvanized Smoky Mauve is much lighter, or gone, on the beads of this color used in the loop.  This is most clearly seen on the bead at the very bottom of the picture to the right.

LESSONS LEARNED

While there are many factors that play into how well the finish of a bead will hold up over time, you don’t have to feel completely helpless when you select the colors for your next project.  My experiment showed that some colors were very resistant to wear.  Coatings that appear thicker and slightly matted tend to hold up well, like the Pastel Light Green, Aztec Gold, and Metallic Violet.  The Azuro, Marea, and Hematite coatings also held up very well.  Lusters, represented by Teal and Lila Vega, did fairly well, too.

Keep in mind that it isn’t only the coating itself that is the cause of discoloration or wear.  Other factors may include:

  1. The amount of moisture to which the beads are exposed
  2. Your skins pH balance
  3. Conditions in which the jewelry is stored when not worn
  4. Exposure to sharp edges (like keys in your purse)
  5. Topical skin creams and make up you use
  6. Exposure to cleaning chemicals

Every person is different, just as every coating is different.  The chemical ingredients in each coating react in their own way to all these outside influences.  No one can predict how well a coating will wear over time, but you can learn from your own experience and reduce the wear to which your jewelry is exposed.

For those of you who want to reduce the risk of wear and discoloration to 0%, plain

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Right to Left: Red, Op Turquoise, Amber, Op Blue, Violet, Op Jade

opaque or transparent colors are the way to go.  The color in these beads is not on the surface, but in the glass used to make the bead.  If the bead is cracked in two, the color will be the same all the way through.  All beads start out as a transparent or opaque color, but some have coatings applied to the outside.

In an upcoming blog, you’ll learn more about the Czech coatings from a scientific point of view.  There are a few different processes that are used as well as an array of chemicals used.  Don’t worry – there wont be a test later 🙂  Understanding the meticulous, lengthy process each bead has to go through will give you a better appreciation of the final product.

Happy Beading!

-Anna Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rivoli, Chaton, Montee Oh MY!

Crystals are frequently used in the vast world of jewelry making. They can be stunning without carrying the hefty price tag of real gemstones. Whether set in a metal bezel, embedded in surrounding beads or hung by a bail, there are an infinite number of ways to incorporate them into a piece.

Obviously, there are crystal beads — those that contain a hole for stringing wire or thread.  But what about the crystals without holes?  How do you know what you are looking for and what shape crystal to get for a specific project? A few months ago this was the topic of one of my Facebook Live session.  There are so many sizes, shapes and cuts that the crystal varieties can be confusing and overwhelming.

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Crystal Sizes
Let’s first tackle the sizing issue.  Unlike beads, that are only measured in millimeter sizes, crystals without holes are often measured with an “SS” number.  “SS”, or Stone Size.  These SS sizes refer to the hole-less crystals often refereed to as rhinestones.  To help convert the SS sizing to millimeters I have created the chart below:

Rhinestone Crystal SS to Millimeter Conversation Chart

Size in Millimeters Stone Size Size in Millimeters Stone Size
1.5-1.7mm 4 SS 5.9-6.1mm 28 SS
2.3-2.5mm 8 SS 6.3-6.5mm 30 SS
3.0-3.2mm 12 SS 7.1-7.3mm 34 SS
3.4-3.6mm 14 SS 8.4-8.7mm 40 SS
4.2-4.4mm 18 SS 8.9-9.2mm 42 SS
4.6-4.8mm 20 SS 9.5-9.9mm 44 SS
5.3-5.4mm 24 SS 10.9-11.3mm 48SS

The Potomac Bead Company carries a variety of crystals without holes such as pointed back, rivolis and chatons, as well as flat backs.  These come in a plethora of sizes and colors and are produced by Swarovski, Preciosa and PotomacBeadss.  In some beading patterns, these shapes are referred to specifically by name and SS size.  However, other patterns will simply state a millimeter size and general shape description such as “round”. Knowing the difference between the most popular crystal shapes and the SS description (in chart above) will make it easier for you to search for your supplies.  Here are some of the basic crystal shapes we carry at The Potomac Bead Company:

  • RIVOLI: Their key characteristic is the faceting, like a tradition round brilliant diamond, that comes to a center point in both the front and back of the stone… faceting is completely balanced on both sides.   The sparkle is often enhanced by a silver coating on the back. The most common sizes of the Rivoli shape is in millimeter sizes 10-18mm.  At The Potomac Bead Company, our most commonly ordered size of Rivoli is 14mm which also, the size we most commonly use in our YouTube video designs.

Rivoli Peacock Bracelet or Necklace Tutorial      Rivoli Oasis Pendant Tutorial

  • CHATON: Like the rivoli this shape comes to a center point at the back of the stone, but features a partially flat front.  The chaton is generally smaller and measured in SS sizes ranging from ss20-ss47.  There are also smaller sizes that are commonly used for clothing an other decorations.  You will also want to note that the back of the chaton comes to a more drastic cone shaped point (a steeper angle) than the rivoli.

Northern Lights Necklace Tutorial            North Star Pendant Tutorial

  • FLAT BACK: As the name suggests, these crystals are flat on the back and often plateau on the top.  They are traditionally the smallest in size and style of crystals starting at 4SS.  These are used often in the fashion industry and are glued to the desired surface. As you  can see below with our flat back Chessboard Crystals.

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Flat Back Rhinestone Sizes

  • ROSE MONTEE: The Rose Montee is actually a setting that contains a flat back crystal.  Again, this is commonly referred to as both the size of the crystal it contains, in an SS measurement as well as a millimeter measurement for the entire piece, including the metal setting.  Often, the rose montee will have a cross section setting in which the back of the metal looks like an X with two holes for the stringing material to pass through.

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While the rivoli and the chaton shapes are round, there are also other crystal shapes in both pointed and flat back.  These include oval, navette, square and rectangular shapes.  When they are a non rounded shape, the crystals are most often measured in millimeters.

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Potomac Exclusive Crystal Shapes

-Kimrie Donovan, Allie Buchman, & Ashley Krzanowski

5 Essential Stitches in Beadweaving

Beadweaving is without a doubt an amazing type of beading and for many also the ultimate beading style. It attracts people for many reasons.  Its intricate look, countless variations in use, and wide range of results with different beads while using the same technique are some. There are also an amazing variety of beads and supplies that can be used for beadweaving. Because of the variety of materials available to use, Beadweaving yields an unlimited amount of projects for various skill levels.

#DoNotPanic

It may seem to a beading beginner’s eye that there are so many beading stitches and that it might be better to avoid this beading discipline completely and only admire it from afar, rather than to start exploring this vast realm on his or her own. On the other hand, more experienced beaders can see that there is only a limited number of different stitches which, when combined, always create something new and complex.

If you don’t feel like exploring the beadweaving web of stitches alone, we are here to help with our list of essential stitches you should know in order to be able to start beadweaving. This collection of stitches will also help you decipher and understand more intricate beadwork, so you can one day create such jewellery too!

01_dontpanicAll pieces designed and created by potomacbeads.com team member, Anna Taylor.

#Supplies

Since we are talking about beadweaving, it, of course, means that you will need thread, a needle, and beads.
Concerning the stringing material, it depends on the project which thread you will use. When you don’t have to pass through beads more than two or three times, then the best choice is Beadalon Wildfire. In other cases, it’s better to choose a beading thread. Then it’s mostly up to you which one you like. You can use One-G, KO thread, Hana thread, Nymo, Superlon, SoNo thread, or even mono-filament Illusion cord. Some of these brands offer different diameters, so you can choose a thinner or thicker thread according to your project.
You will also need a beading needle. If you are lost in sizing, then simply remember that for the often used .006” (i.e. .15 mm) Beadalon Wildfire, you will need a size 10 beading needle. For most of the other beading threads, you will need a size 12 needle which allows you to go through small beads many times. In some cases, you may opt for a size 13 needle when working with really small beads, for example Czech Charlottes.
And what kind of beads? Any kind!

02_suppliesDesigned and created by potomacbeads.com YouTube instructor, Marissa Vallejo.

#KnowYourStitch

Furthermore, there are different styles of each stitch. Almost all of them you can make in a flat, circular or tubular version. Each version is more or less for a specific situation. For example, flat stitches are often use for bracelets, while tubular stitches are used mostly for ropes to hang your focal piece from. Of course, nothing is set in stone, you can make a long necklace using flat peyote and tubular herringbone to create a bracelet.

Which stitches are the most essential for you?

  1. Ladder stitch
  2. Herringbone (Ndebele) stitch
  3. Brick stitch
  4. Peyote stitch
  5. RAW (right angle weave) stitch

When you master these five, you can then have fun with other basic stitches like netting stitch, very similar Chenille stitch, square stitch, or St. Petersburg Chain. And if these are not enough for you or you might want to try something less traditional, you can dive into more recent stitches – Diamond Weave, Hubble stitch or Albion stitch. We will introduce these to you in another blog.

One last thing before we plunge into stitching, sometimes you can work using either one needle, or two needles at the same time. I personally don’t like to handle two sharp objects at the same time, so I am a fan of just one needle. Nevertheless, I would recommend to a beginner to try both methods to find what suits her or him the best.

Ladder stitch

Ladder stitch is probably the most basic stitch of them all. I wouldn’t personally even call it a stitch. Most of the time it is a starting point of your beadwork, followed by other stitches. You can work with one or two beads at the time, creating a base which you then use for adding other rows of herringbone stitch, brick stitch, or the above-mentioned Chenille stitch. You can work with both one and two needles.

Ladder Stitches Beadweaving Instructions – working with two needles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6Vvrd4VXqc

How to Ladder Stitch with One Needle:

https://youtu.be/xftxayncB_s

Herringbone (Ndebele) stitch

This is one of my personal favourites because of its many variations in use, look and versatility. It gained its name because of its distinctive look reminding people of the actual herringbone pattern. Some people call it also Ndebele stitch.
Flat herringbone stitch is great for bracelets of many styles which you can get by combining different beads, colours, inserting extra beads between rows and more. Try first the basic version.

Flat Herringbone Stitch How To:

https://youtu.be/eqKJt5UrFxs

Flat Herringbone Stitch (tutorial):

https://youtu.be/knxqv-ab904

If you mastered the basics, you can try an upgrade:

Multiple Row Scalloped Herringbone Stitch

https://youtu.be/ZaqruUQez3Y

Herringbone stitch is also great for making ropes. The rope can be used to complement your focal piece, or it can stand on its own after adding some slight alterations to this style. You can create different designs just by changing the starting number of beads, you can begin with two, four, six, … You can make it simple or twisted, you can use different beads, you can insert beads between rows, or what have you.

How To – Tubular Herringbone Stitch:

https://youtu.be/JjFMNn6rlQw

Twisted Tubular Herringbone Stitch:

https://youtu.be/uTakIcyHL6Q

Embellished Tubular Herringbone Stitch:

https://youtu.be/e-7iBicBZxM

To cover all possibilities, herringbone stitch also has a circular version which is usually used together with a peyote bezel done on a cabochon or a crystal.

03_herringboneLook at the amazing use of circular herringbone stitch in Chammak Challo earrings by Nela Kábelová.

Herringbone stitch is also a great alternative to this peyote bezel where you mix different bead sizes.

You can find more ways to play with the herringbone stitch on our YouTube Channel, just search for “herringbone”. https://www.youtube.com/user/Potomacbeadco/search?query=herringbone

Brick stitch

Brick stitch is currently undergoing its renaissance since it is widely used in minimalistic jewellery, made mostly from Miyuki Delica beads, fine chains and geometrical or boho metal ornaments. You can check out lots of such inspiration on our Pinterest, to be more specific, on our BRICK stitch inspiration board. https://www.pinterest.com/potomacbeadco/brick-stitch-inspiration/
Nevertheless, brick stitch was always a popular stitch, especially the flat and circular variation which you can attach to various metal ornaments to give them an extra nice touch.

04_brickBrick stitch earrings with filigree components made by a member of PotomacBeads.com team, Bridgette Davidson.

How to Brick Stitch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5FcLqAfovg

Brick Stitch Filigree Earrings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=delc9EX9Avo

How to Circular Brick Stitch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmo4QZbE40k

You can find more ways to play with the brick stitch on our YouTube Channel, just search for “brick stitch”. https://www.youtube.com/user/Potomacbeadco/search?query=brick+stitch

Peyote stitch

Peyote stitch is an absolute must! It looks great by itself, it is very similar to brick stitch, but turned by 90°. Some projects even use them together – peyote for bezel and brick stitch for a bail. It can also serve as a base for the rest of a project that you build upon with other layers of your beadwork. After a peyote cabochon bezel, you can continue with already mastered herringbone, or not-yet-uncovered netting stitch. There are two basic types, the classic even count peyote and the odd count peyote which people often replace with brick stitch if possible (me included). Again, you can work with one or two needles.

Peyote Stitch Instructions – even count:

https://youtu.be/PmDeiixumjY

Odd Count Peyote Stitch Instructions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dK52o0ITr8

How to Make Hollow or Tubular Peyote Stitch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zql7bDx3RH8

Circular Peyote Stitch;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWcQSKXG0vA

Circular peyote is also great for making beaded beads as you will see in our upcoming videos. You can use seed beads, Superduo  beads, and other kinds of beads.

05_beaded beads.jpgBeaded beads made with circular peyote stitch by a member of PotomacBeads.eu, Tereza Drábková.

And what about a peyote bezel? Count me in! Peyote stitch for me is the one to reach for when I start a new project. It might be beadweaving, soutache, bead embroidery, whatever, but peyote is the thing I start with almost every time.

06_marieleMariele bracelet with bezeled Potomac Rivoli crystals using peyote stitch; made by a member of PotomacBeads.eu, Tereza Drábková.

You can find more ways to play with the peyote stitch on our YouTube Channel, just search for “peyote stitch”. https://www.youtube.com/user/Potomacbeadco/search?query=peyote+stitch

RAW (Right angle weave stitch)

Simple, yet very appealing, that is right angle weave stitch, aka RAW. Based on groupings of the same number of beads, most often four, creates a regular web of beads that can then be embellished with new layers of beads. You can work with one or two needles which, in the case of RAW, are probably used more often than just one needle. For me, RAW is the most complex stitch which offers you countless ways for enhancing your project. Very often jewellery made with RAW, or CRAW, looks so complicated (in a good way), but when you look closer, you realize that it’s just four by four beads repeating the whole time… and some embellishment.

Right Angle Weave Instructions (RAW):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSQ9wo01ccg

Cubic / Circular / Tubular Right Angle Weave (CRAW):

https://youtu.be/Vx1gtE4Qdyk

RAW stitch is also suitable for bezeling a cabochon. This technique might take some time to master, but it is worth it!

Make an 1920’s Art Deco Cup Chain Ring!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eotkzxEve4M

You can find more ways to play with the RAW stitch on our YouTube Channel, just search for “RAW” or “CRAW”. https://www.youtube.com/user/Potomacbeadco/search?query=raw

rightanglenecklaceThis CRAW necklace was designed and created by potomacbeads.com team member, Ashley Krzanowski.

#FinalTips

My final recommendation would be to persist in learning. Some master a new technique immediately, others may require more practice. If you are a visual learner, search our plentiful YouTube channel full of beadweaving and other videos to find what you need. If you are missing an essential video tutorial in our channel, let us know! There are also many beadweaving patterns on our website that can inspire you to create and learn new things. You can also join our Facebook group for Beading and Jewelry-Making where other members might answer your questions and help you as well!

 

 

The Ultimate Delica Bezel Directory

Learning to Bezel

I really enjoyed learning to bezel.  The evening I learned, I was attending a monthly Wine and Bead night at the Potomac Bead Company, where we learned to make the Queen Victoria Earrings.

bezel

The evening ended up taking longer than expected because all of the rookies in attendance were brand new beaders or not beaders at all. But, it was was a fun time nonetheless.  After I left that evening, I wanted to bezel more on my own and purchased some black 10 mm Potomac Crystal Rivolis and some Miyuki 15/0 seed beads.  I messed around with the stitch and really liked using a peyote stitch for the bezel, which is different from the stitch in the Queen Victoria Earrings mentioned above.  My finished product was a cute pair of black and gold studs earrings that I love!

bezel2Arriving at this finished product was not without its frustrations.  I ended up wasting lots of thread and not just a few feet.  I’m talking YARDS.  I couldn’t quite get the starting number of beads right and wound up ripping out my work and restarting four times or more.  I also ended up breaking a few beads from too many passes with the thread and needle, causing me to start over yet again.  After I moved on from that project and went on to others I made sure to keep note of all the “starting numbers” of beads and type of beads to use for each size item I was bezeling, hoping to avoid starting and restarting over and over again. Surely, I’m not the only one who has started bezels, and restarted them trying to get the size right and so I wanted to share my bezel directory with you!

Best Bead For Bezeling

After working with Miyuki 11/0 and Miyuki 15/0 seed beads (link), Toho 11/0 and Toho 15/0 seed beads and Miyuki 11/0 Delicas, I found that the delicas were my favorite to work with when starting a bezel and I’ve decided to focus this directory on using Miyuki Delica 11/0 seed beads to start.

 Here is why they are my favorite:

  • Size Consistency – They are incredibly consistent in size which makes the belowbezel3 bezel directory more reliable.
  • Shape – Their cylindrical shape with straight sides allows for a consistent, neat, and tight-fitting bezel to start.
  • Large Hole – A larger hole will allow for more passes through a bead with the thread and needle.

I’m recommending starting a bezel with delicas but after the first few rows are complete and you want to start decreasing the beads around what you are bezeling, you can move on to using smaller beads such as Miyuki 15/0 seed beads and even Czech 15/0 Charlottes depending on how small you want to go.

bezel4

The Beaded Bezel Directory

And finally, here is the bezel directory I want to share with you.  You may find that there are some sizes and dimensions of items you are making a beaded bezel for that are not included here.  You can most likely figure out, based on the numbers below and the size of what you are bezeling, on how many beads to start with.  If you do have some information to add, please share your secrets with us and we’ll expand this directory!

BEZEL DIRECTORY USING 11/0 Miyuki Delica Beads
Shape Dimensions # of Delicas to Start
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round

10mm 26 Delicas
12mm 32 Delicas
13 mm 34 Delicas
14mm 36 Delicas
16 mm 42 Delicas
17 mm 44 Delicas
18 mm 46 Delicas
23 mm 56 Delicas
25 mm 62 Delicas
27 mm 68 Delicas
30 mm 76 Delicas
 

 

 

Oval

13 mm x 18 mm 40 Delicas
18 mm x 25 mm 56 Delicas
20 mm x 30 mm 66 Delicas
30 mm x 40 mm 88 Delicas
 

Square

14 mm 42 Delicas
18 mm 52 Delicas
 

Drop

13 mm x 18 mm 40 Delicas
18 mm x 25 mm 56 Delicas

If you’re looking for something to bezel, check out Potomac Bead Company’s awesome selection of cabachons including Par Puca Cabachons, Cameo Cabachons, Czech Pearl Cabachons, Lunasoft Cabachons, Druzy Cabachons, Mood Cabachons, and more.

In addition, check out Potomac Bead’s exclusive crystal products including rivolis, squares, drops and more!

-Lindsay Seifarth

7 Trending Color Theory Tips: PANTONE Spring 2018

Twice a year, PANTONE presents the world with seasonal collections of colors that help guide designers and businesses to connect with consumers in the most effective way.  As jewelry designers, these heavily contemplated collections can be very helpful.  I find they can guide, teach, and inspire us to try new colors and/or color combinations to enhance our creative work. I thought it would be fun and instructive to apply the PANTONE Spring 2018 colors to the “Color Theory Tips” I previously discussed.

Trending Color Theory Tip 1: How do these colors fit in the color wheel?

If you come across a color you like but don’t know how to combine it with other colors, the first step would be to decide where that color fits on the color wheel.  This can be confusing when the color may be a lighter or darker version of a color on the color wheel.  As depicted below, I placed the PANTONE Spring 2018 colors in the most logical places on the color wheel considering the color instead of focusing on the light or darkness of the hue. This will give us a great foundation to start making color combinations using these colors and color theory.

Trending Color Theory Tip 2: Triads

A triad color harmony is made up of three colors that form an equilateral triangle on the color wheel.  Below, I depict two Triadic color combinations that occur in this collection of colors.   You can find Demi Rounds and Piggy Beads in these trending colors at potomacbeads.com and potomacbeads.eu.

 

Trending Color Theory Tip3: Analogous Colors

Analogous colors are those next to each other on the color wheel.  A combination of three or more can create a very pleasing color palate for your jewelry designs. I put together some analogous combinations of the spring collection colors and also gathered some Cali Beads in similar colors.  Check out our great selection of Cali Beads! They come in the most beautiful and trending colors!

Trending Color Theory Tip 4: Complementary Colors

Complementary color pairs are those that appear directly across from each other on the color wheel.  These combinations are very bold and great for adding a pop of color to any project.  Below, I have collected some examples of complementary pairs from within the trending collection. These colors are readily available in Toho Seed Beads as depicted below!

 

Trending Color Theory Tip 5: Split Complementary Colors

Split complementary colors, a variation on the complementary color harmony, chooses the color on either side of the color’s complement instead of the direct complement. I think these color harmonies provide some of the most interesting color combinations, bringing three bold yet harmonious colors together.  Here are the split complementary combinations I discovered within the PANTONE Spring 2018 collection. Our RounDuo® beads come in an amazing range of colors as you can see below!  You will be sure to find the color you need for any project!

 

Trending Color Theory Tip 6: Warm and Cool Colors

The color wheel can be divided directly in half separating it into Warm and Cool colors.  Here I have the color wheel divided into Warm and Cool colors with the additional of the PANTONE Spring 2018 colors.  Using Warm or Cool color combinations are a tried and true methods for creating simple yet beautiful color palates for your jewelry designs.  Below are some necklace bracelet combinations in Warm and Cool colors made with our vintage Czech glass shapes!

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Trending Color Theory Tip 7: Neutral Colors

Neutral colors are those that are neither very Warm or very Cool.  These colors can be effortlessly combined with a variety of colors to round out a color palate.  I have chosen three colors from the spring collection that can be used as Neutrals.  Though some are warmer or cooler, they are still dominantly neutral and therefore very versatile.  Using natural or wood beads is a great way to add neutral colors and interesting texture to your jewelry. Check out the natural beads we sell at potomacbeads.com!

I hope these tips will help you explore all your color options and enhance your designs.  If you would like some more in-depth color theory tips for your design toolbox, you can take a look at my previous blog: “6 Color Theory Tips to Enhance Your Beading Designs.”  As always, please share your color combinations and designs with us on Facebook!  We all like to see your work!

-Ashley Krzanowski

potomacbeads.com

Thread & Needles: One Beader’s Review (Part 2: Needle Types)

 

In part 1 of this review, I focused on reviewing some of the more common threads available to beaders.  Here, in Part 2, I will focus on the needles.  There was a time when I thought that all needles were pretty much the same and they all did the same job.  I took for granted that every needle would perform just as well as any other and there was no need for me to stray from the kind I had always used.  Now, after trying out a few brands, I realize how important the subtle difference between them can be.

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NEEDLES

Needles are just as important as thread when it comes to enjoying the beading experience.  As the tool you’ll use to stitch each part of your project together, it is important that you find a needle that not only does the job, but one that feels good in your hand and has the appropriate amount of flexibility and length.

 

Pony: These needles are long enough to grip easily and easily bendable.  Although I’ve bent many Pony needles too badly in one project to use in another, I believe it is still worth it for the price.  Since I always keep a pair of flat nose pliers handy, it is easy to bend the needles straight again if I get the needle too bent to continue.

One advantage of a more flexible needle is that it is very unlikely to snap in half.  I hear lots of other beaders complain about their needle snapping in half while they are in the middle of a project.  I hadn’t had this happen to me until I used some less flexible needles.  Not all stiff needles will snap, but it is more likely that you will snap a stiff needle.

Wildfire: The Wildfire needles are much shorter than Pony needles. The short length is preferable for intricate patterns where you may have less room to work with your needle, but I found that it took me a while to adjust to the needle itself.  I wasn’t used to holding and pushing a shorter needle through my project.  This made my stitches a bit awkward or clumsy.  I ended up with looser stitches and my project was loose.  This won’t happen to everyone; if you are accustomed to using a short needle, you will probably love the Wildfire needle.  These needles are also less easy to permanently bend, but are still flexible enough to maneuver through tight spaces.  My overall assessment of the needle is that it is great for when you are working in a small space.  In the picture below, you can see the length of the Wildfire needle in comparison to others.

Another needle that is similar to the Wildfire is the John James needles.  These needles are available in both short and long and are pretty flexible.  The only down side to these needles is that I have heard more reports from customers about John James needles breaking than other needles.

Tulip: These needles are generally more rigid than the other needles and generally have a heavier, more substantial feel in my hand.  They held up better over time than any other needle I had used previously.  I could complete an entire project without permanently bending the needle. Although Tulips are not as flexible as some other needles, I didn’t feel like they were going to snap.  These needles are also a bit more expensive than other needles, but I believe they are worth it.  Many projects require you to spend hours with the needle and thread in your hand.  It’s important to choose materials and tools that you are going to enjoy working with.

I wanted to also make a quick note about the big eye needles.  I didn’t include them in my needle experiment, but it is worth mentioning them for those who are curious.  The eye of the big eye needles runs the entire length of the needle.  These needles are also very flexible, possibly too flexible.  The advantage of the large eye is, of course, that it is very easy to thread.  However, with this comes a needle that becomes so flexible, it may not be stiff enough to easily push through your project.  When I am designing a new project, I tend to go back through the same bead many times.  This causes the hole in my bead to get very tight and I need a stiff needle that will be easy to push though.  Personally, I don’t use these big eye needles because they just don’t offer the stiffness I need.

 

If you, like me, have been stuck in a needle and thread rut, don’t hesitate to sample some different products for yourself.  You may find that the characteristics that separate one product from the next make all the difference.  Don’t let advertising or the opinion of other beaders stop you from trying something new for yourself.  You’ll never know what thread or needle is your favorite until you try them all!

-Anna Taylor

Thread & Needles: One Beader’s Review (Part 1: Thread Types)

When I first learned the technique of beadweaving, I learned from a friend who had her own needle and thread preferences.  The overwhelming selection of threads and needles available, and an incomplete knowledge of every brand, prevented me from venturing too far from my beginnings.  After a couple years of almost exclusively using the brands I had learned with, I realized that I needed to expand my horizons and try different brands for myself.  

I chose to gather some of the most popular and accessible types of both needles and threads.  After threading each needle with one of the threads, I used each pairing to stitch a short strip of peyote, one of the most common stitches.  Although all of the products I tested will produce a great project, knowing the subtle differences between them will help you choose the needle and thread that you most enjoy working for your project.  Keep in mind that while there are certain properties that are quantifiable, what I am mostly concerned with here is the overall experience of using these tools.

Threads I tested:                                                  

ThreadNeedle
I included more threads in this review than needles because that is where I had the largest knowledge gap.
  1. Wildfire
  2. Fireline
  3. Miyuki KO
  4. Toho One G
  5. Sono
  6. Hana

Needles I tested:  

  1. Pony, size 10
  2. Beadalon Wildfire, size 13
  3. Tulip, size 10, 11, and 12

 

THREAD

Generally, the threads fell into two categories: those that were thermally bonded and braided and those that were not.  Although all of the threads are nylon, the thermal bonding gives these threads some unique characteristics.

Thermally Bonded:

Wildfire and Fireline are both thermally bonded and braided thread.  There is a noticeably rougher texture with these threads. Thermal bonding means that it won’t fray at the cut end and will be more resistant to sharp bead edges.  However, any thread will succumb to sharp bead edges or an accidental knick with your scissors. (I personally like to use a pair of Slip-N-Snips since they easily fold into themselves to hide the blades.) Thermally bonded threads also generally feel thicker and more substantial as you work with them.  

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Both Wildfire and Fireline are available in basic colors including black and white. Wildfire has a few more color options with green, blue, and red available. I’ve found green to be the most versatile.  In Fireline, the Crystal seems to be the most versatile since it is not an opaque white, but rather a semi-transparent. The recent addition of the Black Satin color, which touts a smoother surface and permanent color, has made some loyal Fireline users very happy.  

The thermally bonded nature of these threads also creates a thread that lacks in stretch. This is neither a good or bad quality, it will depend on your project.  It is, however, something to consider when you select a thread.  This characteristic, along with its texture, make it my preference for beadweaving projects.  

Nylon threads:

All the other threads I compared fall into this category of Nylon threads.  As I mentioned before, all these threads I looked into are Nylon, however these threads are not thermally bonded.  A plain nylon thread is smoother and feels lighter. These threads more closely resemble sewing thread than the thermally bonded.  These threads have a generally lighter, more delicate feel when you are working with them.  If you are a loyal Wildfire or Fireline user, you will be surprised at the delicacy of these non-thermally bonded threads.

These nylon threads have an elasticity that makes them great for projects that require a little elasticity.  These threads are not to be confused with elastic or stretch cord, but the extra bounce in these threads is great for some projects.  I recently spoke with a fellow beader who thought the stretch was ideal for tassels. As I used the threads, I felt that SoNo was the least elastic and KO, One-G, and Hanna were all very similar and noticeably more bouncy.

Nylon threads also come in a wider variety of colors than Wildfire or Fireline.  I was able to find a much wider variety of colors in KO and One -G with almost any color available that you might need.  Although available in fewer colors, the Hana thread has a beautiful selection of vibrant colors, as shown below: 

 

Now, when I have bead embroidery projects on a beading foundation, I use one of these nylon threads for my project rather than a thermally bonded thread.  The

After working with these threads, I grew to appreciate the wide variety of threads available rather than being overwhelmed by numerous options.  I’ve overheard many heated debates over which thread is the best and have realized that is all subjective.  There is no BEST thread, there is only the best thread for you and your project.  The only way to know which is the right one for you is to try them.

Next week, in Part 2, I will be sharing my thoughts on the needles I tested.  Until then, have fun exploring new threads!

 

-Anna Taylor