Welcome back! In yesterday's post, we talked about metallic and galvanized seed beads. Today, we'll discuss the new hybrid seed beads from Toho, dyed seed beads, and ways to prolong the life of your metallic and coated seed beads.
New Hybrid Seed Beads from Toho
coating on these new hybrid seed beads is applied in the Czech Republic,
meaning the bead was made in Japan, and the additional coating was applied in
the Czech Republic. There will always be issues now and then with durability.
As we discover that a hybrid coating is not durable, it is not being
reproduced. Most of the marbled or Picasso coatings seem to be holding up just
fine. Testing against UV exposure, chemicals and wear have had great results so
far. Some of the heavy metallic coatings did not hold up as well as expected.
Several of them have been removed from the product lines and will not be
reproduced. As more ideas present themselves for this innovative way to produce
interesting colors and finishes, market testing will need to be the judge of
what holds up over time.
Dyed Seed Beads
beads, while very pretty with their bright pinks and purples, do not hold up
well over time. They not only fade from UV light or any contact with chemicals,
but they can also bleed onto other surfaces they may come into contact with.
While I personally never use them (I just value my time too much to risk using
a color that will not remain that color over time), I did carry them at one
time, against my better judgment. We labeled them with bright orange labels and
added a second label that noted the bead was dyed. We had signs in our store
and in our paper catalog (pre-Internet days) warning people that the beads were
not durable and that the color would come off eventually.
particularly bad experience was with a very good customer of ours who made
custom leather coats, extensively hand-embellished with beadwork. She sold her
coats to musicians and actors. The staff member who waited on her one day neglected
to tell her that one of the colors she was buying was dyed. She created a full-length
coat in white elk skin for her client, with thousands of strands of hand-cut
fringe. The custom beadwork for this coat took about two hundred hours to
complete. Within three days, the buyer of the coat requested a refund because the
bright pink beads she had used had gotten wet and bled into the white leather,
destroying it. She called me in tears the next day. I removed all the surface-dyed
beads from our stock that very day, and I've never looked back. The thought of
that happening to one of my customers ever again would be horrific-any loss in
sales would never equal what my one single customer went through.
So What Is a Seed Bead Lover To Do?
recommend treating seed beads with acrylic coatings for several reasons. The
acrylic coating will wear off, just like nail polish wears off your nails, and
then you're still left with an unstable bead finish. Coatings can dull or
distort the actual color of the bead and can also attract dust and dirt over
time, making the beadwork look dirty and dingy, which is never a good thing.
you should never wear your beadwork
when coming in contact with water. Always store beadwork covered, either
wrapped in material or stored in a dark box. Put your jewelry on after you have
applied any aerosol sprays or perfumes. Know your pH level and if it is high
(like mine), be aware that you will wear through even durable metallic finishes
faster than the average person.
normally test how well a bead will hold up with your skin type by putting the
bead in some of your saliva for a few minutes, then rubbing the bead to see if
the color has altered. While not a fun thing to do in public, sometimes stores
will allow you take a small sample home for testing. Many times just rubbing
the bead in the palm of your hand will also give you an idea if the finish will
alter with your skin type.
the fancy (and more expensive) matte metallic finishes are also prone to wear
because the surface of the bead is slightly porous after the matting process.
These pores can fill up with your skin oils and alter the appearance of the
bead. In this case, the color isn't necessarily wearing off but is being
changed by your naturally occurring skin
to be mindful of these things when designing your jewelry. Don't use a metallic
bead as the base for a bracelet - use a non-metallic color where the jewelry
will be in constant contact with your skin.
Final Thoughts About Seed Beads
really are no rules when it comes to playing with shapes, sizes, finishes,
which country the seed bead came from, or which colors "should" go
together. Just play. Explore. Have fun! Create and be happy.
There's no question that Beki Haley loves seed beads. As
the owner of Whimbeads, she gets to spend her days (mostly) working around and
with seed beads. You can visit Beki's website, Whimbeads, or find her at bead
shows around the United States.