I had a bead shop owner friend call me a few weeks ago, asking about the differences between Twins and Super Duos, two brand names for the two-hole oval seed beads that are all the craze among beaders right now. She said she'd called around to vendors, artists, and fellow shop owners, but she didn't feel like she was getting clear answers. My friend isn't an off-loom beadworker, so she didn't have first-hand experience with the beads, but as a shop owner she wanted to support her customers with knowledge and the right product. Makes sense!
I gave her the information and she ordered her stock accordingly, but her phone call got me thinking...maybe my shop-owner buddy isn't the only one who is confused about the differences in these two beads?
So I thought I should share what I know. And just to be sure, I called my buddy Steven Weiss at the BeadSmith (one of the largest wholesale companies in the U.S. that sells both types of these beads to shops) to make sure my information is correct. I also had a nice email conversation on the topic with Sabine Lippert, a fantastic designer and teacher, and one of the first to work with these beads. (Thanks, Sabine, for sharing these clear photos with us!)
Country of origin: Czech Republic (created by Preciosa)
Size: 5mm long by 3mm wide by 3mm by 2.5mm deep at center
Shape: Flat oval with slight taper at ends
Material: crystal base; many colors are created with coatings
Consistency: Inconsistent in size; must be culled
Weight: About 18 beads per gram
Price: A quick online scan of prices today shows that they run about $2 - $11 for tubes of 300; price difference depends on color
-Some designers like the inconsistency of these beads to make more organic-looking designs. The size variance is also helpful for forming increases/decreases in sculptural work.
-These beads tend to be slightly thinner in the middle, so don't work as a substitute for Super Duos.
-Because many of these beads are coated, they often have holes that are plugged shut with coating. You may also want to double-check the stability of the coating for wear.
-Sabine explained that these are rocaille beads (made like Czech seed beads), and that's why they aren't very uniform. She also noted that the company that makes Twins (Preciosa) has also marketed a pressed-glass version.
Country of origin: Czech Republic
Size: 5mm long by 3.5mm wide by 3mm deep at center
Shape: Flat oval with pronounced taper, almost a dimple at ends
Material: glass base; many colors are created within the glass as opposed to coated
Consistency: Very consistent in size; very little, if any, culling is needed
Weight: About 15 beads per gram
Price: A quick online scan of prices today shows that they run about $3 - $12 for tubes of 300; price difference depends on color
-These beads are very consistent, so work well for methodical, technical designs. There is really no culling necessary.
-These beads tend to be slightly fatter in their middles, so don't work as a substitute for Twins.
-The color of these beads is stable because most of the beads are colored within the glass, not as a coating.
-Sabine explained that these beads are made in a press; thus the uniformity.
What do you know about Twins vs. Super Duos? Please share your experiences here so we can all learn together.
Senior editor, Beadwork magazine