Ever since Carole Cypher returned from her adventures in Japan last year, I've been hearing about these amazing new beading needles that she brought back with her. Tulip needles were reputed to be stronger, more flexible, and less likely to bend and break than other types of beading needles.
Tulip beading needles from Japan come in these neat little tubes!
The first thing I noticed about these needles is the little plastic tubes in which they're packaged. Little tubes with cork stoppers – the stoppers came out pretty easy when I was removing each tube from its box, so putting them in another type of storage container – either a needle case or a magnetic needle book – is going to be important. When I picked up the first needle, I noticed that it definitely had a heft to it that you just don't feel with the John James or Pony needles. The Tulip needles are size 11, so yes, they are bigger than the size 12 needles that I've been using, but not quite as thick as the size 10 sharps that I sometimes use. The heft and thickness made me worry about getting the needle through a size 15o seed bead multiple times without breaking the needle and/or the bead.
The eye of the Tulip beading needle is gold plated.
Looking closely at the Tulip needle, I noticed that it does indeed have gold plating around the eye, and it was much easier to thread this slightly larger needle with my favorite 6 lb and 10 lb test Fireline than a regular size 12 beading needle.
It was time to put this needle to the test, and I had the perfect project: I had been working on a three-dimensional flower made from five separate peyote-stitched petals with a Swarovski crystal Rivoli in the center. The petals needed to be assembled and the Rivoli attached in the center of the petals. If there was ever a test for getting a needle in and out of a tight spot, this was it.
I used the Tulip beading needle to assemble this peyote stitch flower and attach the Rivoli in the center. And it stayed as straight as it had been when I took it out of the package!
I was feeling a little nervous as I stitched through the size 11o cylinder beads along the edges of the petals and even more nervous as I tried to work the needle through the tightly stitched peyote in the center of the petals. But even when I had to use my pliers to wiggle through a tight spot, the Tulip beading needle kept its shape, and I didn't break a single bead!
After stitching the bezel for the Rivoli and attaching it in the center of the newly assembled flower, I was hooked. The Tulip beading needle performed flawlessly, and it was just as straight as it was when I slid it out of the tube.
I used the same needle to add some heavy embellishment to a beaded bag that I was working on for a group project, and it still held its shape. This time, I used all size 15o seed beads and some gemstone drops and rounds with smaller holes. The size 11 Tulip needle had no problems passing through both the seed beads and the gemstone beads with a length of 6 lb test Fireline. I was totally amazed.
While the Tulip beading needles cost more than the Pony needles or the John James beading needles, I think this is an investment worth making for anyone who is a serious beader. Tulip beading needles seem like they will last longer and are less prone to bending and breaking than the Pony and John James beading needles.
Ask for Tulip brand beading needles at your favorite bead shop or contact Carol Cypher for a list of bead shops where you can purchase them.