Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bead Wish List: By The Hank

It’s confession time again, beaders: I’m cheating on my Japanese seed beads with Czech hanks, and it’s fantastic! There are so many pros when buying Czech seed beads by the hank - great quantity at a low price being just one of them. I also love that you can hold all those beads in your hand at one time - again, the quantity is amazing - and apart from the threads, there’s no plastic packaging required.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Japanese seed beads are much better quality than the Czech variety. One or two years ago, I would have agreed with you, but now I’m not so sure. Of course if you need absolute precision for something like graphic peyote stitch, you want the quality of Delicas, but for everyday round seed bead designs? Czech seed beads are often just as good as Japanese ones, particularly in the opaque finishes. While the sizes of the beads can vary a lot on a single hank, the actual amount of culled beads or wonky beads is much less than the more expensive packets and vials.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons of Czech seed beads vs. Japanese seed beads (rounds, not Delicas). Which do you prefer overall? In the meantime, here are some delightfully tempting, cascading hanks of ‘rocailles’.

Opaque Rainbow Multi Mix Hank
From Beadaholique

Matte Opaque Olive Green Hank
From piecesparts

Turquoise Topaz Picasso Mix Strands
From Beads-and-Babble

Vintage Green Iris Maco Tubes
From Evez Beadz

Opaque Black Precioca Hank
From Canterbury Lane

Transprent Denim Glass Bead Strand
From Happy Mango Beads

Southwest Mix Mini Hank
From Spirit Bear Beads


Transparent Dark Orange Preciosa Hank
From Fire Mountain Gems

Happy beading!

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  1. Can't really answer your question since I don't do seed bead work anymore. When I did, I was always drawn to Czech beads because of their amazing colors. I think they have more "personality" than Japanese beads. Hope that makes sense (: Wonderful examples you gave - off to check out the shops.

  2. I've found that Japanese beads work great for sculptural and precision beading, but I use Czech beads for the more open work like netting or Russian spiral.

    Also, they compliment each other. A lot of patterns I've followed by Diane Fitzgerald use both.

    Also I prefer Czech beads for fringe and tassels over Japanese. The absolute ends of the cylinder beads don't allow sway or movement like the Czech beads do.

  3. Great post, Morty! I was introduced to Czech seed beads at the beginning of the summer, and have been infatuated ever since.

  4. For my purposes, Czech is fine. For sheer sensual pleasure, Czech is preferable. Precision is not required for netted pieces, and some designers mix bead sizes to get the almost random look. I don't even like the peyote strips of Japanese beads. They don't move the way the Czech beads do. Sure, they click into place. And they stay put. This is not a plus for me. I do have Japanese beads, but the color made me do it.

  5. I adore Czech sead beads for their lovely rounded irregularity. Declias are a little too perfect, although I admit there are times when perfection is required, such as when doing peyote. The rest of the time, Czech beads rule for me.

    Apart from their esthetic superiority (in my opinion), there is also the fact that you can get a myriad of shapes and finishes in the same colours, which make designing a piece a lot easier. This is essential for me: I have to buy online due to being bed-bound, and it's surprising how hard it is to buy matching colours online due to PC settings and the difficulties of portraying true colour in a photo.

    I find it helps to be able to hold hanks of different colours together in my hand, to check if the colours work well for a particular piece. It's easier to do this on a hank instead of
    inside plastic.

    Cost is also an important factor for me, having a limited income. I am not good enough to be able to sell my pieces and concentrate on making things for friends and family. I simply cannot afford delicas very often, in fact the few I have have been gifts.

    Finally, there's nothing quite like opening a parcel of new beads and running your fingers through the hanks, feeling them slip through your fingers. A simple joy but it brings a lot of pleasure. Sometimes I get out hanks from their storage just to do this. Yes, I know I'm weird! lol

  6. I think it depends what you are using them for, like you mentioned. I also recommend Japanese for would think the opposite but it is easier to make the Japanese beads 'look good' when you are developing your technique and tension. I know many experienced beaders who regularly use Czech and their pieces look fabulous- you wouldn't necessarily tell the difference. One thing to consider though- if you are choosing metallic finishes, japanese galvanized and duracoat tend to be more durable:)

  7. Great point, Hollie! Czech seed bead finishes can be much less durable than Japanese ones. Czech dyed, painted, galvanized, and even lined seed beads tend to chip or fade. It's always important to test these out, or use them in low-impact designs.

  8. I agree that Chzech hank beads are greaat for many apps. I knit with beads and the transfer from hank to knitting thread is much easier than stringing loose beads. The slight variations in beads often enhance my projects

  9. I use both. Sometimes I want the evenness and colours of Miyuki and Toho beads, other times I want the colours and finishes of Preciosa Ornela. Sometimes I mix japanese and czech. In some patterns, unevenness in shape and/or size can be annoying, while it isn't a problem at all in other designs. As said by others above, they complement each other -- both because of the shape and the range of colours/finishes available.

    While the Hybrids mean you can get some czech finishes on japanese quality seeds, there's still finishes and styles you won't really find in those beads (phosphorescent-lined, striped beads, harlequin etc etc).

    Don't use galvy beads that often and most of those I have are japanese. Bought some golden czech charlottes once and the coating started to flake the minute I started beading...

    As for hanks, I've bought that for two reasons: either because it's so much better when stringing beads for bead crochet or because the bead I wanted was only available on hank. Prior to winning a half dozen bags of Preciosa Ornela seeds, I'd say 2/3 of my czech seed bead and charlottes stash consisted of hanks.

    Another thing about czech seeds is the seed bead shapes beyond rocailles, like farfalle (the czech were first with those), cut farfalle -- I need to buy some of those -- and twins to name a few.

  10. Like many others have said, I prefer the Czech beads for their "organic" feel unless precision is required. I have purchased hanks of multicolor brads like the one in your top photo and meticulously sorted them by color instead of buying whole hanks of each color. BTW, I LOVE that turquoise topaz picasso blend


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