The meat and potatoes of any beader’s stash is most often lovely and versatile seed beads. They’re essential for beadweaving, ideal for bead embroidery, make great spacers, and can add a delicate touch to a variety of jewelry styles. Today’s guest, Gina of FusionFrenzy, shares her favorite things about beading’s tiniest materials.
Inspirational Beading: What is your all-time favorite bead? Why do you like them?
Gina: My all-time favorite beads are Miyuki Japanese seed beads. They're so versatile with all the different sizes and colors, the creative possibilities are endless. I love how uniform Japanese seed beads are. The end result is a very consistent looking piece.
Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite technique or method to use them?
Gina: My favorite technique... that's a tough one! It's a toss-up between Cellini spirals and tubular netted pieces. If I had to choose only one, I'd pick the Cellini spiral technique. Although they are extremely time consuming to make, the result is an incredibly detailed piece. It leaves non-beaders wondering how you made it.
I love that the shape of the spiral is dictated by the order and size of the beads you choose. As a personal preference, I try to keep my spiral shape on the conservative side, not too drastic. I don’t usually use any bead larger than size 8 for my Cellini spirals.
Inspirational Beading: Of all the creations you’ve made with these beads, which one is your favorite?
Gina: My favorite seed bead creation is a Cellini spiral necklace incorporating three seed bead sizes in four colors. It was the first time I reversed the spiral halfway to create a unique focal point. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It was an ongoing project. I started a few months ago, planning for fall colors. I put the project aside for a while… honestly I got distracted by other bead projects! Recently I decided to finish what I started. My only concern was that the tension wouldn’t be the same, but thank goodness it turned out perfect. I used tension that was not too tight and not too loose. The result is an even tension throughout the necklace.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have any tips for making the most of these beads?
Gina: Keep an open mind when it comes to color. I was surprised what colors actually work well together. Sometimes, I’ll just start beading something and if I don’t like it, I simply undo it and start over with different shades. Don’t be afraid to play with color.
I also recommend to try and keep a good inventory of colors and sizes. Before starting a new project, I let color inspire me so having a variety to choose from is great! I will literally lay out a bunch of bead packs in front of me. Certain colors jump out and grab my attention. If nothing else, keep a good supply of black. Black goes with everything. I understand building even a small inventory can take time and money. I started building mine by asking for gift certificates to my favorite online bead stores for any birthday or Christmas gifts.
Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite bead or material to pair them with?
Gina: I love to pair seed beads with round Czech glass beads or fire polished Czech glass beads. They're perfect to use in my second favorite technique: tubular netting. Just like seed beads, Czech glass beads and fire polished Czech glass beads come in various sizes and so many beautiful colors. I surprised myself with how beautiful my capri blue and metallic brown netted bracelet turned out.
Inspirational Beading: If you were stranded on the moon, and you could have only one kind of bead with you, would you choose seed beads?
Gina: I would choose seed beads without hesitation! In fact, I usually bring seed beads with me anytime I'm going to be away from home for as little as one night! No kidding, if I could find a way to neatly bead while riding passenger on a road trip, I would do it.
I keep telling people beading is just a hobby, but recently someone told me it was more of an obsession. The more I thought about it, the more I agree. I would be perfectly content being stranded on the moon with my seed beads. Of course, it would be even better if I had some string, a needle, and air to breathe haha! Since I use seed beads, I would never run out of projects considering the amount of stitches and techniques that are out there. You're truly only limited by your own imagination!
Inspirational Beading: What’s your favorite method for storing your bead collection?
Gina: I have a zippered fabric craft bag with a handle on it that stores all my seed beads, well, the seed beads that I have plans to use in the near future. I also have a decent supply of seed beads that I keep on shelves that I don’t use all the time. They’re always on that shelf if I need them.
I keep all the beads in the original bags they come in so I know exactly what size, amount, and color they are. I go even further than this though… I use ziplock bags to separate the sizes. One bag contains all size 15 beads, another bag contains only size 11, etc. This way, they all stay organized and easy to find.
By the way, this is also my to-go bag. If I’m going away, all I have to do is grab the handled craft bag and be on my way. It’s like my bead supply purse; everything is in there ready to go. Never leave home without it!
Inspirational Beading: Do you have a brand preference? In your opinion, what is the best source for them?
Gina: I prefer round Japanese seed beads. They work well in all my projects and the beads have a very consistent shape. I’ve used other brands where some beads were thinner than others from the same pack… it just drove me crazy trying to sort them out so my project would be uniform.
I usually buy beads online from various sites. I seem to find a better quality online for reasonable prices. I’m not fond of the seed bead quality at my local craft stores. There are a couple drawbacks to ordering online though. Sometimes the colors you see on your screen are not quite the exact same colors you receive. What you thought was a very light yellow turns out to be a little on the darker side.
There is also the lack of instant gratification and even the quickest shipping seems slow when all you want is to get started on a new project. On the flip side, it feels like it’s your birthday when the package finally arrives! It is so much fun to open it up and finally hold and see what you ordered days ago. I get a kick out of that if you can’t tell!
You can see more of Gina’s seed bead creations and jewelry designs in her shop, FusionFrenzy, and get news on the latest projects on the FusionFrenzy Facebook page.
Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading and FusionFrenzy
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