Your First Seed Bead Stash: Buying Seed Beads When You're Learning How to Bead

When I started learning how to bead with seed beads a long, long time ago, I ordered most of my seed beads from a paper catalog. Yes! A paper catalog! I could look through the pages of this catalog and see all the colors of seed beads that were offered by this particular beading supply company. (I think I held on to that catalog through three moves and four jobs while I was finishing college.)

When learning how to bead, buy beads in colors that you love. These are some of my favorite colors from Whimbeads.

But what I really remember was placing my first order of seed beads. I already had a beading kit full of seed beads that came with a book about making amulet bags (this was back in 1998!), and I was ready to start learning how to bead other things like bracelets and earrings. I needed some seed beads!

Being a college student at the time meant that I had a limited budget, so I had to think carefully about my first seed bead stash. As my seed bead stash (and my budget!) have grown over the years, there are a few things that I still use as guidelines when talking to new beaders about building up their collection of seed beads.

Choose the colors you love. If you're working with a budget (and who isn't these days?), start out by choosing colors of seed beads that you absolutely love. You can always branch out and start experimenting with other colors later, but for starters, you want to have a palette of seed beads that you feel comfortable using for your seed bead projects.

No matter what the size of your seed bead collection, a good storage system is critical!

Stick with one size…or not. Since most seed bead projects use size 11o beads, it's a pretty safe bet to start out with a range of seed beads in that size. As with the colors, you can always add other sizes in other colors as you need them. But I have a couple of beady friends who insist on buying three sizes of seed beads in each new color that they add to their stash – size 11o, size 15o, and size 8o. While this will give you a nice range of sizes for your seed bead projects when you're learning how to bead, it will also mean that you'll have less colors. Choose whatever feels right to you!

Get a good storage system. There are so many ways to store your seed beads! I've gone through so many different types of plastic organizers and containers, I can't count them anymore. I've used a Seed Bead Pavillion, a Seed Bead Tower and plastic tackle boxes to store my beads in tubes. The bottom line? I love them all, but I usually end up tossing my tubes into a drawer with similar colors. (All the blues in one drawer, purples in another, etc.) So look around and find a storage system that works for you so that you can keep your burgeoning seed bead stash organized while you learn how to bead!

Of course, sometimes it turns out that all bets are off. During my recent trip to the Tucson bead shows, I went armed with a list of seed bead colors and sizes that I wanted to get for some specific projects I have sketched out. Unfortunately, at the sight of all those wonderful little sparkly beads, the list was about the last thing on my mind. While I certainly surprised myself with some of my bead choices, I'm not disappointed that I got to branch out a bit in the seed bead department!

So now that you have a good idea of how to add more beads to your stash, you probably need some new ideas and projects for using them. If you're learning how to bead, or just learning how to expand your stash of seed beads, check out Dustin Wedekind's classic Getting Started with Seed Beads, now in paperback! Dustin takes you through the basics of bead-weaving and provides his own advice on shopping for seed beads along with twenty-eight seed bead projects made with eight off-loom bead-weaving techniques. Pre-order your paperback copy of Getting Started with Seed Beads and feed your need to bead!

What advice would you give someone who is just learning how to bead and wants to add to their seed bead stash? Share your advice by leaving a comment here on the blog!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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