Since 2002 Bead Vault, Australia have been selling Czech glass seed beads, small cushion shaped beads used for decorative embroidery, embellishment, bead weaving e.g., Peyote and delicate style jewellery such as friendship bracelets and necklaces. Seed beads are affordable, durable to work with and having a multitude of colours and finishes and sizes available offers designers and crafters broad scope in creativity. Sizing is based on the size rod used for the manufacture of glass beads. The smaller the number, the larger the bead. Shop Czech seed beads in bulk 500-gram bags or smaller 20 gram packets from our extraordinary online range.
Formerly buying from the Ornela factory which distributed the beads by the state-run distributor of Jablonex, the factory was bought by the crystal company Preciosa, an established manufacturer of glass products for centuries in the mountains north of Prague. Today we no longer must surrender our passports as we checked in at the factory. Yes, it is true! A hangover from the communist days but still practiced up until 2007.
Why Use Czech Seed Beads?
Preciosa® TRADITIONAL CZECH BEADSTM is the number one producer of rocaille seed beads globally.
TIP: use thread size D Nymo or cable flex steel wire such as Tigertail.
WHY USE CZECH GLASS SEED BEADS?
- High Quality - colourfast and surface coatings. Czech glass seed beads are not dyed which means no peeling and no fading on the beads surface.
- Uniformity - machine cut - uniform shape and consistent size (bead to bead consistency) makes Czech seed beads ideal for bead weaving, hand bead weaving e.g., peyote stitch, lattice stitch
- Variety - Czech glass artisans offer an extraordinary scope of shapes, sizes, colours and surface treatments offers the designer and maker broad scope in creativity.
- Versatility: use Czech glass seed beads in bead stringing, bead looming, hand bead weaving, decorative surface embellishment, such as embroidery.
TIP: use thread size D Nymo for embroidery or cable flex steel wire such as Tigertail for stringing.
What Sizes Are Available in Czech glass Seed Bead Range?
Bead Vault offers a wide range of colours, finishes (see the finishes glossary below) and sizes online including:
- 15/0 1.5mm (super tiny) 0.7mm hole - Count is approximately 250 beads per gram.
- 11/0 2mm (tiny) – over 40 colours
- 8/0 3.5mm (small) – over 50 colours
- 5/0 5mm (medium) – over 70 colours
- 10/0 approx 2.3mm two cut hex
The “0” known as the aught indicates the size of the glass rod used in the manufacture of glass beads.
- Team with bugle beads if you want to use a similar width bead or to apply sequins.
- String in between larger beads, known as a 'filler' bead, which gives necklace a fantastic drape when strung on flex stainless steel wire.
- Use in surface embellishment and to ancher sequins and beads to fabric.
Larger sizes are available in a range of striped beads used in traditional tribal costumes and accessories.
How Seed Beads are Made
Made by the established glass company Preciosa (prior to that Ornela a state-run factory by Jablonex) in the mountains north of Prague. Seed beads are also known as rocailles (French / ‘little stones’) and are made of the highest quality glass by the drawn glass method. Literally the glass is drawn out to become a long hollow tube and then cut into small pieces. Czech seed beads are easily recognisable by their round doughnut shape.
History of Seed Beads
PRECIOSA Rocailles are the most used type of glass seed beads and are distributed to far flung places across the globe from high end couture houses in Paris to beaded ornamentation adorned by the Maasai tribe in Kenya. Historically, rocailles were created in Venice, Italy in the 15th century. These beads have been produced industrially in Bohemia since the 18th century.
How To Use Seed Beads
You can never have too many seed beads as the possibilities for their application is as numerous as the sizes and colours available. They are perfect fillers in jewellery design, allowing your feature beads to really stand out and they are useful to embellish your embroidery or a contemporary canvas artwork.
They are used in bead weaving by the North American Indians, were the basis of the beaded purses and shift dresses worn by the 1920 flappers whilst Masai women still wear flat neck beaded collars as a form of symbolic adornment.
- We love to use them in beaded embellishment and embroidery on quilts and clothes which adds fabulous texture, detail, and sparkle.
- Hand weave intricate beaded jewellery made from off loom stitches such as peyote, right angle weave and more!
- Use as a “filler” bead between bigger beads on strung necklaces and bracelets to give a soft drape which gives it the best tension ever! Promise. Once you use them between strung beads you will be amazed at the dramatic difference it makes using seed beads for a beautiful drape like silk offers.
The Different Seed Bead Shapes
Our range includes Preciosa Drops which are small drop shaped and have a hole in the centre of the bead. They are slightly tapered at the top which balloons at the base, like a tear drop and produce an interesting affect when strung together. They are also known as Fringe beads or Magatama beads.
Drop: As the name indicates, the drop beads look like a normal drop bead and the hole is drilled into the top/side of the seed beads rather than the centre. You’ll find that these are also used as fringe beads and often called as fringe or tassel seed beads.
TWO CUT BEADS
Two cut seed beads are short cut tubes, i.e., tiny cylinders with a hexagonal surface which create more sparkle in your projects.. These are faceted beads that run from hole to hole with six sides as suggested by the name ‘Hex’.
They are made using a similar technology to our Czech glass seed beads by PRECIOSA. The facets add an enchanting sparkle and irregularity to your standard round seed bead. Use in haute couture embellishment, delicate jewellery designs, bead weaving and embroidery.
How Are Czech Glass Seed Beads Made?
Glass rods are melted in a furnace, then, while still pliable, pulled through a machine that shapes them into a straw like tube. The result looks a bit like a cocktail straw, although there are 20 sizes, each creating its own size of bead, and 20 basic colours that can be mixed into an almost endless selection of tones and shades, some opaque, some transparent whilst others silver lined.
The holes in the straw can be round, triangular, star-shaped, even double-barrelled, and a second colour can be used to accent the hole or create baked-in glass patterns on the bead’s face.
The glass straws are sent through a slicing machine that bites off bead-size lengths, which are then reheated gently and put into a spinning machine that shapes the pliable glass into perfectly round beads that are then sorted and polished.
Seed Bead Finishes
The more complex the finish the more expensive the bead. Reds, pinks & gold are more expensive colours because of the more complicated process to produce the glass rods.
“AB”: Means “Aurora Borealis” and looks like an iridescent rainbow tint on the surface. It is a permanent “rainbow” finish which is applied while the bead is hot. The rainbow finish sets the beads off and makes them come forward visually.
Colour Lined- beads transparent and have a colour lining. The colours vary, including special colour effects such as metallic lined, gold lined or copper lined.
Copper Lined: Transparent with inside hole lined with copper which reflects a reddish light when applied to the inside wall of a transparent.
Iris: Oil effect iridescent coating applied on a dark opaque surface.
Lustred: Metallic sheen.
Matt: A dull, low lustre “frosted” etched surface, and sometimes called frosted effect.
Opaque: Glass transmits no light. i.e., Solid Colour.
Pearlised: Subtle colours with a shiny lustre surface coating.
Picasso: spattered paint on the surface offers an artistic flair as well as an earthy look. Each bead is unique and there is no symmetry between two beads other than the shape it represents.
Satin: Opaque shiny glow with a silky colour whiteness.
Transparent: Glass transmits light. i.e., See through.
Two Colour: See through with the inside hole lined one colour & another colour over the outside.
Silver Lined: Have a mirror like reflective lining. i.e., Transparent with the hole lined with silver to give a mirror effect.
SolGel: A new specialised coated treatment that provides two cut seed beads with longer lasting colour. It protects two cut seed beads from exposure to sun, sweat, water and cosmetics. The colours are fade-resistant - ideal for fashion and costume designers - and washable in temperatures below 40 degrees, even when using fabric softeners.
Striped: Two or more colours vertically on the bead.
White Heart: Hs an inner core of white glass. i.e., Inside hole lined with white. Original trade beads are sought after beads today because of the intensity of their colour.
HISTORY OF WHITE HEARTS
The style of White Heart beads was invented around the year 1480, whereby red glass was coloured using actual gold. Naturally, because of its value, the gold had to be used sparingly by the bead makers. As such, they instead opted to use cheap colour filler for the core of the bead with the red only forming the outer layer.
The History of Czech Glass Seed Beads
Artisans around the globe have used seed beads for nearly 500 years in jewellery making, producing elaborate clothing textiles and tribal regalia. Beaded articles are a symbol of a person’s marital status, wealth and power. Beads communicate different societies’ values especially in Africa where a Zulu love letter (iNcwadi) is used as means of maidens communicating to their lovers with each colour and combination having a specific meaning. In Masai bead work there are 40 words for different types of Masai beadwork.
American Indians also used intricate beaded motifs to communicate between tribes. Each tribe had their own distinctive geometric or floral design.
Artisans around the globe have used seed beads for nearly 500 years in jewellery making, producing elaborate clothing textiles and tribal regalia. Beaded articles are a symbol of a person’s marital status, wealth and power. Beads communicate different societies’ values especially in Africa where a Zulu love letters (iNcwadi) is used as means of maidens communicating to their lovers with each colour and combination having a specific meaning. In Massai bead work there are 40 words for different types of Massai beadwork. American Indians also used intricate beaded motifs to communicate between tribes. Each tribe had their own distinctive geometric or floral design.
Where are Czech Glass Seed Beads Sold Today?
Preciosa sells directly to 70 countries and, through regional distributors, to 40 more.
- In Africa, the company sells to the Masai and Samburu tribes in Kenya and Tanzania, and to the Zulus, Xhosas, Ndebele and other tribes of southern Africa.
- Their No. 1 market is India. (2017) Beads are used there in Hindu ceremonial accessories, but also in everyday products like the mangalsutra necklaces worn to signal that a woman is married.
- Southern Sudan has also become a big market.
- In South America, there are ceremonial garments for religious occasions, like childbirth ceremonies, as well as costumes for Carnival and an assortment of belts, napkin rings and jewellery for everyday use.
- Czech beads in Ukraine and Russia, are being used to adorn religious icons and paintings.