Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wish List: Heishi Beads

I recently treated myself to a strand of black lip heishi beads, and I’m looking forward to using them so much, that I couldn’t resist exploring some more beautiful disk-bead possibilities. The term heishi, or heishe, typically refers to small round disk beads made from shell or gemstones - heishi means ‘shell bead’ in the traditional language of the Santo Domingo peoples of New Mexico.

Today’s heishi beads come in a variety of styles and colors. Rough chip shell heishi are a common component in West Coast and surfer style jewelry, while gemstone rounds make for beautiful, slinky necklaces. You can even get metallic ‘heishi’ spacers for capping precious stone or lampwork beads.

Red Lip Shell Heishi Beads
From Artbeads.com

Labradorite Heishi Beads
From Happy Mango Beads

Red Bamboo Coral Heishi Beads
From Auntie’s Beads

Black Pewter Heishi Spacer Beads
From Beadaholique

Garnet Cube Heishi Beads
From Gemalicious Beads

Turquoise Heishi Beads
From FusionBeads.com

Peridot Heishi Beads
From Lima Beads

Spiny Oyster Shell Heishi Beads
From Happy Mango Beads

Do you like heishi beads? What’s your favorite way to use them?

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  1. I am loving those garnet squares. Haven't seen anything like that before. Of course, I love them all and "need" them but... HA!

  2. I know what you mean about the garnets - I just want to touch them! They also make me think of raspberry juice.

    Have you ever noticed that beads that look like food are just a little more irresistible?

  3. I've never used these beads before, but they are beautiful. I especially love the last set that you featured.

  4. Gorgeous selection! I have a bunch of small plain shell heishis that I got in a bead swap a long while back and I have no idea what to do with them. Everyone seems to say that they make good spacers...but I rarely string; I almost exclusively work beadweaving and am stuck. I suppose I could stitch them atop a flat piece of beadwork but other than that... Any suggestions? A good way to incorporate them into beadweaving without just using them as fringe etc.? Any off-loom stitch. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? :) Regardless, I especially like the beads featured here; thank you for sharing them! I'd love an excuse to buy some but not until I figure out how to use the ones I already have.

  5. Stitching flat beads onto peyote is always a fun way to embellish. If they are small enough, you could use heishi every few rows in a spiral rope, or as accents in netting. They would work great as spacers in a daisy chain, too.

  6. I was kinda thinking but a little wary of the spiral rope idea. The heishi are very small -- about 4-5mm in diameter -- and quite plain so I'd have to figure out a way to add some color/interest without overwhelming the simple natural look of them. They remind me of undyed hemp in that respect. Thanks for the suggestions!


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