Why Should You Learn About Beadmaking?
Why should you learn about beadmaking? Even if you only ever do bead-weaving (or think that you'll only ever do bead-weaving, and nothing else!) knowing a little bit about beadmaking can actually help when you're working on your own beaded jewelry designs, or making a beading project your own through bead substitutions.
Maybe it's not important to know everything about beadmaking, but there are a few surprising ways in which learning about how glass beads, gemstone beads, pearls, crystal beads, and mixed media beads are made can help you save money and create spectacular beaded jewelry at the same time!
Shopping for Beads: How to Get the Best Deal
It may not seem obvious, but when you know about beadmaking, you'll know what to look for when shopping for beads. If you're shopping for handmade lampwork glass beads, you'll know to look for smooth bead holes, and bead holes free of leftover bead separator (the clay-like substance that prevents beads from sticking to the metal mandrels on which they're made).
Knowing the difference between how the genuine Swarovski crystal beads and the Chinese crystal beads are made can also help you out when you're looking to either splurge on a great bead buy, or to economize for a project that's in the research and development phase.
Using Beads as Design Elements
If you're interested in learning about beadmaking, you should also learn about how gemstone beads, pearls, and other natural beads are made. For me, at least, it's fascinating to read about the process of how gemstone beads are made, from the mining of the stone to the final drilling and packaging of the finished bead. And because so many gemstone beads receive treatments of some kind (dyes or heating to enhance color, or injection with resins and plastics for durability), you'll know which beads will stand the test of time when used in your beading projects.
Another important aspect of gemstone beadmaking that you should understand is how the beads are drilled — I was getting sidetracked far too often by wonky gemstone bead holes in my bead-weaving projects, until I learned that some gemstone beads are drilled twice, once from each end, resulting in bead holes that will not allow a straight needle to pass through! Oops!
Some glass beads are also given treatments, like coatings, which may or may not be permanent. Learning about the pressed glass beadmaking process, including dyes and surface treatments applied to these beads, will leave you better informed when choosing your glass beads for your beading projects.
Handmade Beads: Fiber, Fabric, and Paper
Mixed media beads are also all the rage these days, popping up in beaded jewelry designs everywhere you look. You might not have thought of it before, but some of these beads are also suitable for use in bead-weaving projects where they can be mixed with seed beads. Just like the other types of beads mentioned here, if you know how a good fiber, fabric, or paper bead is made, you'll have a better idea of the best way to include some of these beautiful beads in your bead-weaving projects.
How Do I Learn About Beadmaking?
There are lots of ways to learn about beadmaking. One of the best ways is to ask questions when you go to shows and galleries to buy beads. Beadmakers and bead sellers don't mind answering questions about the origin and techniques used to make the beads they're selling — once you understand what kind of quality product they're selling, you're more likely to buy.
It also helps to read all you can about beads and beadmaking, and that might include Beadwork magazine. Beadwork magazine has everything you need to know about beads, plus the best in beaded jewelry designs and beading projects for you to use them! If you missed any of the 2012 Beadwork magazines (including the fabulous 15th anniversary beaded bead competition), now you can get all six issues in digital format on a searchable CD! Get your copy of the 2012 Beadwork Magazine CD and find out more about your favorite beads. (The 2012 Beadwork Magazine CD is also available as a digital download, so you can download an entire year of Beadwork magazine and start reading on your favorite desktop or laptop computer in just minutes!)
Has knowing about beadmaking ever helped you out in a design? What do you think is important to know when it comes to beadmaking? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your thoughts and insights with us!