Sumptuous Seed Beads & Their Crazy Cousins

Why do we love seed beads? Oh, let us count the ways…

“Seed Bead” is a generic term for any small bead. There are various styles and sizes of seed beads, including round, cylinder (also known as “delica”), bugle, and dozens more! Although we carry a full range of standard seed beads in sizes 6/0 to 11/0, we love our unusual and unique seed beads even more. Just like grains of sand, seed beads may not look like much individually, but when you combine them together, you can create some incredible designs! Here are a few cool seed bead shapes we love:

Long Magatama
Like its name, this shape is kind of funky, but the slightly oblong teardrop shape creates an amazing clustering effect when the beads are clumped together!

Photos courtesy of miyuki-beads.com

Tila bead sample photo courtesy of labellajoya.blogspot.com

Tila
These are one of the coolest new seed beads on the market! Tila beads have two holes (neat-o!), and since they are square, they add a striking geometric look to a jewelry design. They lay flat when woven together, and feel luxuriously smooth on your skin!

Twin bead sample photo courtesy of ellad2.com

Twin
Like Tila beads, twin seed beads have two holes, but their slightly rounded shape create a completely different look when woven together with other beads (the twin beads are the dark blue beads in the sample at left). We like the fact that they have a similar look to standard seed beads, but their extra hole makes weaving back and forth much easier than trying to thread 2, 3 or even 4 cords through a standard seed bead.

Peanut bead sample photo courtesy of miyuki-beads.com

Peanut  (a.k.a. Berry, but don’t ask us why. We think peanut makes more sense.) Also an ideal bead for creating a clustered look, these little guys nestle together perfectly! (See close-up circle below.) They don’t have the teardrop length of the magatamas, but they do add just the right amount of texture.

Embellish a Braided Charm Necklace with by weaving delica beads into the braid!

Delica
OK, we figured we could throw in at least ONE “classic” seed bead. The even, cylindrical shape of delicas are ideal for tightly woven pieces and look amazing in flat stitches, such as peyote. However, we also like to use them as accent beads in a braid, such as in the Braided Charm Necklace, pictured below right.

Join us for our Braided Charm Necklace Class happening Tuesday, August 14th, 10am-1pm to learn how to create this whimsical piece & add delicas to a classic braid.

One more seed-bead-related nugget of information: seed beaders LOVE the handy little tool called a Thread Zap.

Photo courtesy of helby.com

Seasoned beader Jennifer VanBenschoten (and columnist for About.com) used to swear by the traditional method of using a lighter to secure her thread ends close to her woven beadwork — until she bought a Thread Zap thread burner. Now, she’ll never go back!

The Thread Zap works with both nylon beading threads such as Nymo and Silamide as well as fishing-line type threads like Fireline. VanBenschoten explains, “The Thread Zap works by pressing a button that causes the metal tips to heat up to approximately the same temperature as the flame of a lighter or match. Because the tips are so fine, they allow for precision application of the heat to the exact spot where you want to melt and secure your thread ends.”

We don’t know about you, but any tool that minimizes ugly knots, the hassle of finishing, and the risk of melting a jewelry project sounds pretty darn good to us! Swing by Blue Door Beads to pick up your Thread Zap — your lovely seed bead project will thank you!

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Why We’re Celebrating Christmas in July

An unofficial holiday season, Christmas in July is a little shout-out to the folks in the southern hemisphere who are currently in the midst of their winter season. Aussies & Kiwis will often celebrate Christmas during this time of year since the frosty weather puts them in the Christmas spirit! Christmas in July is a great time to enjoy all the fun, crafty things Christmas entails, like holiday cards & gifts, but without having to wait until the end of the year! And who says you only get to have holiday fun in December?

Some fun ways that you can be festive in the summertime:

Photo courtesy of bigfatcook.com

– Bake a batch of gingerbread cookies, and in addition to using those tried-and-true snowflake & Christmas tree cookie cutters, you can free-hand some palm trees & golden suns. They may turn out a bit wonky, but that’s half the fun! (Or you can cheat and buy summertime cookie cutters to create photo-worthy cookies, like the ones on the right. Yum!)
– Decorate a small outdoor shrub with strings of popcorn and streamers. Sure, it’s not a Christmas tree, but you can still enjoy decorating with friends and family, and the neighborhood birds can enjoy the popcorn!
– Find some old socks and embellish them with sequins, buttons, and whatever else will make for colorful stockings to hang by the chimney or around the house! Inexpensive glue guns start at about $5.00 at most craft stores, and then you can start gluing up a storm. Surprise your loved ones with stockings filled with random goodies, like fun paper clips, silly BandAids, and other items they can use year-round.

Another great way to enjoy Christmas in July and celebrate the fun of the winter holidays is to start creating fun holiday gifts & accessories early! See below for our Christmas in July classes.

Candy Cane Earrings
Sat., July 28th, 10am-11:30am – $20
Get a head start on your holiday gifts by learning how to create festive, wire-work candy cane earrings. Perfect to give as a gift, or to wear to a Christmas in July party!

Snowman Earrings
Sun., July 29th, 10am-11:30am – $20
These little cuties are so adorable, you’ll want to make a pair for everyone you know — including yourself, of course!


“Let It Snow” Shaker Card
Sun., July 29th, 12pm-1:30pm – $20
Add some personal, festive flair to your holiday cards by creating a “snow”-filled card using seed beads.

We Love Lillypilly!

We love unique, bold pendants, but it always seems that the bigger the pendant, the heavier it is. We don’t know about you, but we don’t really like big, bulbous baubles weighing us down throughout our day, which is why we love the lightweight line from Lillypilly Designs!

Owner Heidi Viau has been using a CO2 laser to intricately engrave nature-inspired designs onto various natural materials since 2003. Lillypilly is well-known for their gorgeous shell pendants (pictured at left), as well as their gorgeous designs on semi-precious stones, tagua nuts, wood, horn, and buri seeds.

The newest line from Lillypilly is a series of anodized aluminum sheets and shapes in bold, playful, and beautiful designs in vibrant colors (picture at right). Punch holes in the shapes with metal punch pliers to create charms, pendants, links & more!

Zees arr sum uv zee most beeyooteefool peecez we av evar seen! What was all that gibberish, you ask? Read it again with a French accent! We’re trying to get in touch with our French side in honor of Bastille Day (France’s Independence Day) this Saturday, July 14th.  Why not throw a festive fête, break out un peu de fromage et une bouteille du vin (a bit of cheese and a bottle of wine) and have yourself an extra-fancy Bastille Day beading session? Très chic. 🙂 Happy Bastille Day from Les Perles de La Porte Bleue (Blue Door Beads)!

Chain It Up!

We are partial to all kinds of chain: fine, heavy, shiny, antiqued, silver, gold…the list goes on & on! Chain is incredibly versatile, and although it is tempting to use it in the simplest way possible in jewelry-making (chain + pendant = necklace. *yawn*), we encourage you to use it in much more interesting ways. For example:

Create flowy, dangly earrings.
It doesn’t take much to create this delicate look. First, we created a wire loop, hooked it to the oval component, then wire-wrapped the loop closed. Next, we slid a bead on the remaining straight wire, created another wire loop (but left it open), then slid several pieces of the same chain in various lengths onto the wire loop before wrapping it up. We then attached an ear wire to the oval component to complete the earring. The result is a long & dangly earring that is also pleasantly lightweight!



Use chain links to connect donut beads together.

One of the many reasons we love Vintaj nickel-free brass chain is the fact that the larger styles are made up of links that open up with pliers! Not only does this mean you lose fewer links by not having to cut them, but it also opens up many more possibilities for attaching charms, bead links, or large-hole beads, like the bracelet pictured. Mix & match donuts of different colors, or add rings of different sizes. The sky’s the limit!

Add dramatic flair.
This necklace could look nice as a simple series of wire-wrapped bead links connected with chain. However, we wanted to create a more dramatic look, so we opened up the chain links connecting the bead links and added varying lengths of different types of chain, including etched, rounded, and smooth. This added texture & a little bit more personality!

These are only a few possibilities for how you can use chain in your next jewelry project. Want to see your unique chain design featured in our blog? Email us at blog@bluedoorbeads.com and you could be featured in a future post!