An Introduction to Beads and Beading
by Judy Ellis
For those of you who are beginners, today I thought I'd give you a little introduction to the world of beads and beading. We have a number of great articles on beading but this is a great "simple" explanation of beads and beading.

The craft of making things out of beads is called beadwork.
There are many different beadwork techniques and they can be broadly categorized as:

  • Stringing: Bead stringing is the putting of beads on string. It can range from simply sliding a single bead onto any thread-like medium to complex creations that have multiple strands or interwoven levels. ..

  • Embroidery: Bead embroidery uses a needle and thread to stitch beads to a surface of fabric, suede, or leather. Bead embroidery is an embellishment that does not form an essential part of a textile's structure.

  • Crochet: Bead crochet is a technique that incorporates beads into a crochet fabric. The technique is used to produce decorative effects in women's fashion accessories.

  • Knitting: Beaded knitting is a type of knitting in which the stitches are decorated with ceramic or glass beads. The techniques are for beads, but knitting sequins (and other perforated objects) can be done analogously.

  • Loom weaving: When bead weaving on a loom, the beads are locked in between the warp threads by the weft threads. The most common bead weaving technique requires two passes of the weft thread.

  • Off-loom weaving: Off-loom beadweaving is the technique of stitching together beads with thread without the use of a loom. Off-loom beadweaving requires only a needle, thread and beads. Seed beads are the most common type of bead used in off-loom beadweaving.
  • What are Beads?

    Beads are small objects of decoration that are usually used in jewelry. In order to be used beads must usually first be pierced so that thread can be passed through them so that they can be joined together on a string.

    However beads can also be adhered to surfaces of various items such as wall hangings and sculptures in which case they would not need to be pierced. Beads can also be used to adorn personal items such as handbags and purses. They can also be found in household items such as cushions and table cloths.
    What kind of Beads are there?
    Beads differ vastly in size from tiny little beads that are too small to handle without precision tools to large beads that are more than a centimeter in diameter.

    Please don't get confused by the term "seed bead". It doesn't necessarily mean that the bead is made from seeds, which some beads are. "Seed bead" is a generic term that is often applied to any small bead.
    Judy Ellis's An Introduction to Beads and Beading - , Beading, Beads, Stone Beads
    Judy Ellis's An Introduction to Beads and Beading - , Beading, Beads, Venetian Glass Beads
    Judy Ellis's An Introduction to Beads and Beading - , Beading, Beads, Metal Beads
    Judy Ellis's An Introduction to Beads and Beading - , Beading, Beads, Seed Beads
    Beads can be made from all kinds of different material, but some of the most common include:

  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Stone
  • However beads are also made from many other materials such as:

  • bone
  • horn
  • shell
  • ivory
  • coral
  • pearl
  • polymer clay
  • metal clay
  • resin
  • wood
  • ceramic
  • fiber
  • paper
  • synthetic materials

    As you can see you can become very spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding what materials you would like to work with.
  • Beads have been around a very along time since the first known civilizations. The oldest known examples of jewelry are an approximately 100,000 year old pair of beads made from sea snail shells.
    Apart from being used in jewelry and personal adornment beads are also used for religious purposes, good luck talismans and curative agents.
    Who Beads?

    Hobbyists of all abilities can practice the craft of bead working. The simplest examples of beaded jewelry can be created by a novice beader in virtually no time at all, such as this Quick Bead & Wire Pendant pattern.
    Experienced beaders may spend weeks of meticulous effort on their beadwork using specialized equipment and tools.
    Judy Ellis's An Introduction to Beads and Beading - , Beading, Beads, Finished bead work


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    • Category: Beading
    • Technique(s): Beading