How to Choose Glass Beads

Glass beads originated with the Ancient Egyptians for the Pharaoh and royal court attendants.[1] They have a smooth and beautiful quality that many bead-workers love to work with. Choosing quality glass beads is an important part of producing a lovely bead project.

Steps

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    Visit a local bead store and look for their glass bead section. There will be a lot of glass beads, as they are the most common and easily available type of manmade beads. Glass beads come from all around the world, so you'll have plenty of choices. Select according to:
    • Size - from tiny to large, match the size to suit your project
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    • Color - there will an enormous range of choice of colors
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    • Shape - round, donut shaped with a hole, oval, heart shaped, animal shaped, cylinder, triangular, cubes, hex cuts, bugle, etc.
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    • Weight - ensure that the bead weight can be supported in the project you're doing.
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    Check out lampwork glass beads. Lampwork glass beads are in a category of their own. Lampwork beads are made by hand and each one is unique as a result. This uniqueness is reflected in the price.
    • Lampwork beads with metal cores are good because they last longer.
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    • If you find lampwork beads expensive, consider buying a few as feature pieces for your project and use ordinary glass beads for the rest of it (as in the image).
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    Check that the glass bead has been annealed. Annealing means that the glass bead has been heated and cooled in a kiln. If this process has not been followed, the glass bead can break or shatter any time, even if it appears sturdy.
    • You will need to trust the retailer's advice on finding annealed beads.
    • The cheaper the glass beads, the greater the likelihood that they have not been annealed.

Tips

  • Some pearls are made from glass, following a lengthy dipping process.
  • Bugle beads are often attached to cloth in a pre-strung form. They are ideal for clothing.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass bead retailer

Sources and Citations

  1. Susan P Beck and Pat Jennings, Elegant Beading, p. 8, (1996), ISBN 0-8069-9485-1

Article Info

Categories: Beading