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Getting Started with Seed Beads
Beading with Seed Beads or Delica Beads

Besides being one of the most fulfilling and flexible crafts around, beads and beading is also one of the easiest crafts to get started with. The supplies are inexpensive and portable and you can get satisfying results at any skill level.

To begin with all you need is some beads, beading thread, beading needles and perhaps a few findings (findings include clasps, earring wires, separator bars and the like) and of course some instructions.

While you don't need to purchase a huge selection of expensive Delica beads (these are beautiful japanese cylinder beads that cost quite a bit more than your average seed bead) just to try your hand at beading, you probably don't want to start off with the sort of seed beads you would find at a Walmart or a large chain craft store either. The beads you find in the places are often very uneven in size and shape and difficult to work with. Since these beads cost as much or more than the better quality seed beads you find in a bead store there is really nothing to recommend them. Stick to bead store beads if at all possible. Most projects call for size 11° seed beads so you will probably want to stay with those. With seed beads the higher the number the smaller the bead so size 10° is bigger than size 11° and size 13° is smaller.

To find a bead store in your area check out the Bead Shops by State list at the Bead Fairies site. If you can't find one or you would prefer to shop in the comfort of your own home there are many wonderful online bead shops. You can find links to an ever growing list of them in the Bead Shopping section. 

The most commonly used beading thread is called Nymo and can be found in pretty much any bead store. It is available in a wide range of colors and thicknesses and is suitable for most any beading project. There are several other brands of thread that can also be used such as Silamide, Conso upholstery thread, Synbond, and even silk. The reason why regular sewing thread is not used is because it snaps easily and tends to discolor quickly.

Beading needles are different from other kind of needles in that special care is taken to keep the eye of the needle as close as possible to the same width as the rest of the needle. If you are working with beads that have larger holes such as Japanese seed beads you can sometimes get away with #10 sharps but most of the time you will want at least a size 12 beading needle. Needles are sized similarly to beads, the higher the number the thinner the needle. A good rule of thumb is to use a needle one size smaller than the seed beads you are using. So with size 11 seeds use a size 12 needle.

Before you begin checking out the various projects you can try you may want to familiarize yourself with some of the terminology that beaders use. There are several glossaries and other useful reference pages listed in the Terminology section.

To get an idea of what kinds of things can be done with beads you may wish to wander through the Inspiration section. It contains links to photo galleries belonging to dozens of beaders, famous and not yet famous, which feature all sorts of different types of beadwork. If you weren't already hooked on the idea of working with beads a trip through these galleries will surely convince you.

The Previous Features section lists dozens of projects made available on these pages over the years. Many more projects and instruction sets written by others are listed in my Bead Stringing and Off Loom Weaving Projects sections. You can find instructions for almost any stitch here as well.

I truly believe that the only thing stopping a beginner from completing any of these projects is not their skill level, but their confidence level. In order to build your confidence level you may wish to start out with a simpler project. The following projects, some written by me, some written by other generous beaders around the web, should give you a chance to complete something quickly with a high chance of success the first time around:

My Favorite Necklace

Pansy Bracelet

Four Quick and Simple Projects

You will also want to visit the Tips, Tricks and Terms section of this site. A stroll through these pages will answer many of your questions before you even think to ask them.

Good luck on your journey, you will be a beadaholic in no time!

~Emily Hackbarth

Previous Features

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