Ask the Expert: Seed Bead Finishes Part 1 with Guest Blogger Beki Haley

14k yellow gold metallic seed beads

24k white gold metallic seed beads

Metallic bronze seed beads

We are incredibly lucky to be beaders at this time in the history of the seed bead. We are constantly being offered new shapes, sizes, colors, and finishes of seed beads! The techniques that are being developed to help insure the durability of these seed beads are just amazing. The possibilities seem limitless. When I think back on my start as a beadweaver and the limited supply of colors and sizes that were available in comparison with today, I am blown away by how far we've come in such a short amount of time. I can only wonder what could be coming next!

Metallic vs Galvanized Seed Beads

Metallic is a term used to describe a metal-looking coating applied to the bead surface, such as bronze, blue iris, or 24k gold electroplate. While not all metallic coatings on seed beads are made of actual metal ,they give the look of metal. Most metallic coatings applied in Japan are extremely durable. While they are still a coating and not the actual color of the glass, it takes serious abrasion to wear them off, and they do not fade in light or with chemicals.

Electroplated coatings are even more durable than metallic. Many of the metallic coatings from the Czech Republic are also durable, such as all of the iris coatings, but there are other coatings under the Czech Republic metallic heading that are not very stable at all.

Galvanized is a word used out of context for seed beads. Galvanization is actually a metal coating applied over less stable metal to protect it from rusting. As such, the term denotes something special is happening and that the coating is durable in some way. Sadly, that is not the case. Galvanized beads are glass beads, either transparent or opaque that have had a metallic-looking coating applied. This coating is meant to look more like true metallic colors than, for instance, a blue iris coating. Galvanized coatings do not have additional treatments applied to them, such as an iris or AB finish. Most likely because the galvanized coating itself is not stable and adding an additional treatment to it could compromise it.

The processes to create a metallic or galvanized finish on a seed bead defer from each other, but the actual process used by each factory is proprietary.

Differences in Galvanized Seed Beads

Permanent Galvanized (Toho) and Duracoat (Miyuki) were tested extensively before they were released for sale. They are extremely durable against wear, UV light, and chemicals. They can, however, be removed with rough abrasion (metal files), though why any beadweaver would wish to do that to their seed beads escapes me! The process to create these permanent coatings is highly guarded.

There's no question that Beki Haley loves seed beads. As the owner of Whimbeads, she gets to spend her days (mostly) working around and with seed beads. You can visit Beki's website, Whimbeads, or find her at bead shows around the United States. Come back tomorrow to read Part 2 of her guest blog here on Beading Daily.

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