Beading How To: Types of Beads & Different Styles of Beadwork

After the release of our first few Beading How To videos, we received a lot of great feedback…so based on popular demand, we decided to revisit our first few demos and give more detail about the different techniques, add some new techniques, and also share some of Michael's expert insights about different types of beads, materials, and preparation.

In this episode, Michael explains some of the major differences between Czech and Italian glass beads. He also shows some of his finished designs and shares some of his beading secrets to achieve textural interest, amazing color, and beautiful compositions.

[The video begins as Michael begins talking about the kinds of beads we have in our Sioux Trading Post]

We sell both Czech beads and Italian beads.

Differences Between Czech and Italian (or Venetian) Beads
The Czech Beads…there's a more limited color pallet with the Czech beads. They gained popularity in the world bead trade (probably around 1920 or so). They're shapes and sizes are very regular, they tend to be a little bit more bluish in tone and, like I said, have fewer color choices…don't get me wrong, there's an amount, but not quite as many unusual or subtle colors as with Italian beads.

A lot of the Italian beads we have were hand made or hand drawn (the technical name for that process of making those beads). They have what we call a "charming" irregularity, which lends itself to period correct beadwork, for instance if you're working with the Applique technique and you get to the point where you need an odd size/shape of bead (like a wedge shape) to fit in an area…Italians will work perfectly. There is a difference in how it looks...

Types of Beadwork
If you want something truly flat, then you're going to want all your beads to be the same size…that's not necessarily always possible and/or (in some cases) desirable depending on what you want to do.

Here's a Crow Mirror Bag. This is a good example of combining different sized beads (some are bigger and some are smaller) and beading techniques.

This outline is done using a bigger red white heart bead, and [pointing to some other areas of the bag] these beads are also bigger, but if you lay them in carefully with Applique, the size of the beads doesn't really matter…and it adds a little bit of texture.

People in the day and even now...if you like a certain color (and its not available in a particular size) that's what you have and you have to use it (so have creative and see this as a challenge).

Right here [referring to the bag's border], this border here is Lane or Lazy Stitch beadwork. This is called a lane [a column of beads] and these little units here [parallel lengths of beads] are called rows…so the Lane is made up of Rows.

If you're not going to change color/size within a row, you can butt up rows of different colors/sizes of beads using this technique - [referring to his example] see how these beads are much bigger in this row than the row next to it (the yellow beads are bigger than the dark blue ones next to them)…and it doesn't really matter because there's not a change within the row.

BUT, if you're going to change patterns or colors within the row, then you have to be a little more concerned about the size of your beads.

[Moving to the strap of the same bag] There's some size difference in the strap, too…certainly on the Edge Beading (I'll show Edge Beading in another episode). To save time, and also kind of a Crow technique, larger pony beads were often used for edging since this can be quite time consuming….it also adds some textural interest.