Is This a Seed Bead?

There are so many new shapes and types of glass beads popping up that sometimes I feel dizzy just thinking about them all! If you take a look at some of your favorite online bead supply companies (like Whimbeads, Artbeads, and even Fire Mountain Gems), head over to the "seed beads" category and look around. You'll also find things like fringe beads, Magatamas, and even beads like Tilas and Rizos. What one person calls a seed bead can also be called a rocaille, a drop bead, or a fringe bead. Even bugle beads are considered to be types of seed beads, even though they don't really resemble any kinds of seeds that I've ever seen.

And then there are the new two-hole seed beads, Twins and SuperDuos. These glass beads look like someone took a large seed bead, squashed it flat, and poked two holes in it. They may not look like the seed beads that I used when I was first learning how to bead, but they can be used in bead-weaving projects to create a new kind of beaded fabric.

Confused yet? If I were a beginner, I might be.

According to a couple of online dictionaries that I checked, a seed beads can be defined as "uniformly shaped, spheroidal beads ranging in size from under a millimeter to several millimeters." As far as beading lore goes, seed beads were given that name when they were first created for commercial trade in Venice, sometime around the late 1400s, because they resembled seeds. In France, they were referred to as "rocailles", which translates literally to "rock".

But these sources also note that the term "seed bead" can be used to describe any small bead — which might include some of the following bead types.

Drop beads: Long Magatamas on the left, original Magatamas on the right.

Drop beads. The unifying characteristic of drop beads is their curved, teardrop-like shape. Magatamas have a more subtle teardrop shape than long Magatamas, which can be stitched in patterns to resemble scales or pine cones. Fringe beads have a more pronounced teardrop shape and are usually 3mm x 4mm in size, although you can find some slightly larger and slightly smaller varieties.

Take a look at some of the great pressed Czech glass drop beads, and you'll notice a dazzling variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and finishes, too.

Triangle and cube beads. Just like you'd expect, triangle beads have three sharp cuts that turns each bead into a triangle when looked at through the bead hole. When stitched into beadwork, these sharp sides give both dimension and texture to your finished beading projects, and triangle beads that are lustered or metallic truly stand out.

Cube beads have four sharp cuts that make each bead look like a cube. When stitched together, they can resemble cylinder beads, but aren't necessarily as uniform in shape as cylinder beads. When used in herringbone stitch, they add extra definition to the traditional zig-zag pattern formed by the thread path.

Flat right-angle weave with peanut beads resembles cubic-right-angle weave.

Peanut beads. These interlocking glass beads range in size, and are also known as "farfalle" beads. A personal favorite of mine, these shaped seed beads resemble little "dog bones" or "dumb bells". Use them to make flat right-angle weave look like cubic right-angle weave, or add them in small loops of fringe to your bead embroidery projects.

For a truly luxurious seed bead project, look for peanut beads in metallic finishes like silver, gold, bronze, and copper.

I don't know about you, but whatever you want to call them, reading about all these different kinds of beads has me anxious to get to my bead tray so I can make something! And if you loved our Yafa Petal earring kit, you'll be smitten with the Breezeway Bangle bead kit! Each kit contains all the beads you need to create one of these fabulous bangle bracelets, plus a copy of the project instructions, so all you need to do is thread your needle and get busy beading! Grab your Breezeway Bangle bead kit now before supplies run out — once they're gone, they're gone!

Bead Happy,


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