Micro Seed Beads

Recently as I worked on an earring project featuring size 15° seed beads, I wondered how some of the tiniest micro seed beads could be used in beadwork. I found a few samples online of beautiful Native American beadwork such as dolls, horse collars, tapestries, and clothing adorned with the antique Venetian beads.

These Barbie-sized beads, which are smaller than size 15°, were made mostly in Czechoslovakia and Venice, Italy, from the 1800s to around World War II. Now they are rare, but can be found in a few bead shops. Heather from The Beadin' Path sent some my way, and I'm thrilled to try them out.

The red seed beads on top are size 11°, and the beads below are micro seed beads.

Heather sent size 16°, which are easily incorporated with size 15° in projects and are somewhat easy to stitch with. She also sent a lovely mix of several sizes, and I'm unsure exactly what size is the smallest bead. I lined 34 of them up into 1 inch on my needle, which tells me they may be close to 34°. I've only just begun using the beads, but a here are a few things that I noticed right away:

1. Culling the beads is of utmost importance. So many of them have such tiny holes that my needle and thread cannot get through them once, let alone for a second pass.

2. Use a small needle. The smallest I have in my office is size 12. I can use the size 12 for some of the beads, but some of them are just too tiny. So my next step is finding a smaller needle.

3. Use thin thread. I began using a nylon 2-ply Japanese beading thread, but it is still too large for some of the tiniest beads. I didn't wax my thread for fear it would clog up the holes.

4. Beads break. There is a reason to take your time and take great care in using micro beads in beadwork. One pass too many through one bead and it's gone.

Have you used micro seed beads in any of your projects? Do you have any tips and tricks to share? We'd love to hear from you in our comments section below!

Bead chic!

Kate Wilson
Project Editor

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