Help with Problem Beads

Jan 28, 2008

Do you have a problem bead in your collection? Maybe more than one? I'm sure the minute I asked that question, you thought of a specific bead, didn't you?

Types of Problem Beads

There are many types of problem beads. Here are some of mine:

  • The hole is not where I expected it. Now what?
  • It's an unusual color that I don't typically use (lime green).
  • I bought this bead to match some other beads, and it doesn't.
  • This bead is very, very special (read: expensive) and I'm afraid that I will "ruin" it with whatever I create.

Advice for Problem Beads

The best thing about problem beads is that they are not a problem for everyone. What you think of as a problem bead may not be a problem for someone else. Sometimes you just need a fresh perspective.

Enter Gretchen Coats. Gretchen is a Beading Daily reader who worked at a bead shop until it closed recently. She really misses helping customers, especially troubleshooting and offering design ideas.


I pulled out a couple of odd beads in my collection to share with her, including these polymer clay beads that I bought over Christmas. I thought they were fascinating. Not really "me" at all, but that's partly why I like them. I've been trying to stretch myself creatively and use materials that I wouldn't normally. Other than creating a simple pendant with one of the beads, I really had no ideas for these beads.

Gretchen suggested: "When I saw the pinecone polymer beads the first thing that popped into my head would be a lariat with maybe one bead on one end, and two on the other. I would pair it with some jasper, and even some nephrite or serpentine and give it a fall feel. Maybe the green bead could go on one end, and start in the green family, and blend slowly throughout the necklace to browns, with the other two browner pinecone beads on the other end."

I love this idea! I would never have thought to use them all together, but I can picture the lariat she is describing and I think it would make for a dramatic piece.

It's Your Turn

I asked Gretchen if she would mind helping out a few Beading Daily folks. And being a generous beader (are there any other kind?), she of course said, "Yes!"

Do you need help with a problem bead?

If you would like some free, professional beading advice from Gretchen, then please fill out this form. We'll pick 3-5 interesting cases and share the "problems" and ideas for solutions in a future Beading Daily so that we can all pick up some new design ideas. Deadline to tell us about your problem bead is February 9, 2008.

Michelle Mach is the editor of Beading Daily. She can't wait to hear about your problem beads!

Related Posts
+ Add a comment


JoanneL@26 wrote
on Jan 28, 2008 2:01 PM
I am a new beader, and I'm crazy about it. I have one small problem with glass bead necklaces made with tigertail wire. I use a crimp beads and a crimping tool, but the edges of the crimp are always rough. I try to file them down a bit, but the crimp bead will sometimes break apart. Any suggestions?
JoanneL@26 wrote
on Jan 28, 2008 2:01 PM
I am a new beader, and I'm crazy about it. I have one small problem with glass bead necklaces made with tigertail wire. I use a crimp beads and a crimping tool, but the edges of the crimp are always rough. I try to file them down a bit, but the crimp bead will sometimes break apart. Any suggestions?
rickeyc wrote
on Jan 29, 2008 5:58 PM
I have been searching for a beading pattern for a strawberry. I can find pictures on the web but no pattern. Does anyone know where I can find one.
Zaz wrote
on Jan 31, 2008 4:19 PM
i have a problem with one bead that is not exactly a bead. it's a jade buddha pendant woth one tiny hole at the top. when i bought it i thought i could treat it as a "stone" and like "bezel" around it (i am not sure this is the correct word) it turns out some told me one cannot do that with it and i am stuck with this tiny hole that came strung with a perle cotton thread done in a kind of mini macrame and some beads and i don't like its look this way at all... i really do not know how to show off the buddha and make the whole piece look cool and funky. it's a dark green too and not very bright, so that's even harder as i like to brighten it up with hot pink beads.
SaraJ wrote
on Feb 1, 2008 9:20 PM
Donna, I LOVE strawberries! I think a back issue of Beadwork has a 4 dimensional bead-crocheted strawberry - I didn't know crochet at the time but it stuck in my memory because I KNEW and KNOW that I'm going to make it. That, though, is kind of a specialized project or technique. Not that others aren't!

For flat versions, go to, which has some designers selling patterns, and do a search. Or go to, there's a link to where they have a bunch of designers that sell patterns there, and do a search. Or, google Sarah's Beading Obsession (my name is Sara, no relation, although I've got a peyote owl in progress from one of her patterns so I can highly recommend her, even if she really NEEDS to organize her patterns better on her site!). I know she's got some strawberry patterns, but I am not sure they are separated out from the background they are on.

OH, I just discovered the other day, when I revisited a site I had bookmarked awhile back, of someone with some beaded amulet books, and beaded thimble or needlecases, books, and saw a new book with a strawberry thimble case; DEFINITELY going to make that! I can't recall the bookmark or name right now, but she has some gorgeous patterns.

I'm pretty sure I'd/I've seen/saw some flat peyote strawberry earrings pattern somewhere, or something that'd be a good size for a pendant, but that was a LOOOOOONG time ago, and several computer crashes, before I was using an online bookmarking service. I'll eventually be linking to every strawberry pattern I can find in my blog sidebar, since strawberries and dolphins (Sarah's Beading Obsession has a stunning dolphin necklace, and a shark one too! Not affiliated) are two of my biggest loves.

I have some problem beads I might submit to this thingie, to get back to the subject!
SaraJ wrote
on Feb 1, 2008 9:23 PM
er, that's THREE dimensional strawberry, not 4 dimensional . . . . I've been watching too much LOST, with it's time and physics (backstory/hints/teasers by the producers, on that last) stuff! Lol . . . .! A time-traveling strawberry, in the 4th dimension, that's just what we need . . .. ! Perhaps that's what they eat in Dr. Who's Tardis . . . .
HollyP@7 wrote
on Feb 7, 2008 8:50 PM
A suggestion for the rough crimps...just cover the crimp with a crimp cover. Not only does it cover up the rough edges, it hides the crimp, creating a more professional look.---good luck1
SteceyK wrote
on Feb 9, 2008 8:14 AM
I have these pretty flower spacers that flip upside down when I pick up the project. I can't get the flower to stay upright. Any ideas? I just can't seem to give up on this one. Sterling silver, pretty crystals and a pmc pendant need these spacers. HELP!!!!!
Colie wrote
on Feb 22, 2008 3:55 PM
I sent this in before but I'm going to try one more time! Any suggestions about galvanized or gold and silver seed beads whose finish won't come off? I'm sick of the beads losing their finish before I even complete the project! I've tried spraying the finished project with a varnish but it doesn't come out well.