Fuzzy Teenage Bunny

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When you first start out making beaded items it can be confusing trying wade your way through the multitude of different beads available. So I thought I would do a series of articles about different types of beads.In this first article I will look at the different materials you can get your beads in. Over the next few weeks we will look at shapes and some the differences between certain types of beads. So let us look at some materials that beads are made from.

Glass– An extremely common material for bead making. This category includes crystal, lampwork, seed beads, glass pearls and Millefiori. The quality varies depending on the manufacturing processes used.

– Used for centuries to make beads, wood isstill quite popular. Many wooden beads are painted or stained in a variety of colours.

Metal – These beads come in a variety of different metal types, including Sterling Silver, Vermeil, Brass,Copper and Base Metal (which is usually plated). There are some beads that look like metal but are actually plastic coated to look like metal.

Bone/Shell – These natural materials have been used for centuries for beads.

Pearls – There are many different types of natural pearls, including Freshwater and Keshi. They can vary in price quite a bit depending on their type. Natural pearls should not be confused with glass pearls.

Gemstone – There are many different types of gemstones used in beading, with a huge variation in quality, price and availability, as well as a huge variety of shapes.

Acrylic/Plastic– Advances in manufacturing processes has meant an increase in the quality of some acrylic beads, to the point that it can be difficult for the uninitiated to tell the difference between them and glass. Vintage Lucite is also in this category.

Ceramic – Clay is another material that has been used for centuries to create beads and pendants. The variety of glazes and finishes available leads to a huge diversity in beads.

Polymer Clay – Polymer Clay falls somewhere between Acrylic and Ceramic, whilst not being in either category.Polymer Clay can be made to mimic many other materials, including gemstones, glass and wood.

This is a very basic overview of what is available. Next week we will look further at the category of glass beads.
Photos Courtesy of CrysallisGEMS and CrystalsByThePiece

Bead Types - Part 1
21 January 2010, 7:17 am
Source: Jennifer Mercer, Handmade News Columnist
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Newborn Baby Bunny

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I love beads! I have made jewelry from purchased beads and from beads reclaimed from old necklaces. I also enjoy making my own beads from paper as well as from polymer clay. There are a lot of possibilities for making pretty beads from just those two materials.


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Jennifer Mercer or Haffina (Haffina) is a Just Creative who has made 646 posts since joining Creative Burrow on 07:03pm Mon, Nov 3, 2008. Haffina was invited by Bunny.

About Haffina
I'm a busy mum of 5 kids, 4 boys and 1 girl, who mainly makes jewellery and polymer clay beads..but who also attempts to write when I have the time..which frankly isnt often at the moment. I love the writings of Terry Pratchett in particular.. but I am also partial to witch or fantasy based stories..like the Witches of Eilianan Series and the work of Cecilia Dart Thornton. I used to write a column for handmadenews.org so I guess that makes me published :P

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Poetry, Romance

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