For me, it all started with a broken necklace. The necklace had a pendant I loved, but I didn’t much care for the rest of the necklace to begin with. It was a single strand, choker style thing and I felt the pendant (a Victorian style antique brass cross with black crystals) would be better on multiple strands. Possessing a very basic knowledge of stringing and crimping, I went to my local craft store looking for some sort of beads I could use to create the layered design that was floating around in that part of my brain that is equal parts compulsive and creative. It was in this craft store that I stumbled upon seed beads (although at the time, I am not sure I knew the tiny little glass beads I was buying were actually called that) and it was then that my love affair with beading, which has now lasted the better part of 2 decades, began. Seed beads have been a big part – if not the very biggest part – of that lasting love. They were there for me when I started beading and my jewelry collection consisted mainly of illusion necklaces and statement pendants; in fact, in the beginning, seed beads acted as everything from filler material to the star of every bead show I put on. I thought that it was high time I shared a few of my favorite seed bead projects that are perfect for those of you just starting out – or for those of you who wanted to see the many ways these miraculous little beads can be used in jewelry making projects.
Simple Beaded Designs
This is probably the easiest way to start working with these tiny drops of heaven: find a pendant you like that is a total “wow” piece and then just string a long strand of seed beads. Karla demonstrated this in her Broom Mix Tassel Necklace project; she even made the tassel herself! The good news is you can steal this look and pair it with any pendant you want!
The Heavenly Toho Necklace by Susie is a perfect of example of how “easy peasy” working with seed beads can be. In this project, she used a simple centerpiece and matched her seed beads to leather cording. This is a brilliant way to demonstrate that using cording or chain with a strand of seed beads can add visual interest to your design.
I created the Evening Elegance Necklace many moons ago, but it is still one of my favorite go-to designs. This is a simple way to take a beautiful pendant, create a beaded seed bead bail and incorporate a seed bead mix into a piece that most would expect would be created with gemstones; it is certainly less expensive than working with gemstones and/or crystals and allows that layered look I love so.
Although they seem a bit intimidating, multi-strand jewelry designs are actually easier than they appear. The Lush Verde Bracelet by TierraCast (pictured at the top of this article) shows how elegant, simple and glamorous seed beads can be when used with a super cool multi-strand clasp. This is not a hard project; it does not require a knowledge of weaving or anything like that. You simply measure, cut, crimp, string and repeat.
Karla had her own spin on a multi-stranded seed bead bracelet design with her Stackable Bracelets project. Each bracelet has its own clasp so you can wear each individually, paired with other bracelets or a watch, or clustered and stacked all together. She also demonstrates how to incorporate other materials such as charms, chain and pearls into your seed bead designs.
I created the Santa Fe Necklace a couple of years ago. This combines several of my favorite elements: seed bead multi mixes, glass pearls and an oversized clasp that doubles as a pendant. The cool part of this design is that if you measure just right, you can wear it as a choker style necklace or double it over and wear it as a wrap bracelet!
This is one of my favorite pieces Karla has ever done! Her Metallic Mania Necklace project incorporates Miyuki multi mixes, chain and TierraCast findings designed to be used with multiple strands of beads, chain, etc. Though this necklace looks very dramatic and striking when worn, the construction is deceptively simple.
And Even Earrings
Wait – what? You can make earrings out of seed beads? Of course you can! And it can be a lot easier than you think. Check out how Susie used add-a-bead hoops with seed beads and Swarovski rivolis to create a pair of earrings that looks complicated and elegant, but is surprisingly simple. Or the earrings Susie created using beading wire and rullas for a pair of super cool illusion style earrings. Then there is a bracelet project I did several years ago that I have used as inspiration for making earrings on more than one occasion. To create these, you simply open jump rings, add a seed bead or two to each jump ring and then attach your jump rings to links of scrap chain. You can make them as long or short as you want and the result will be a clustery pair of earrings you created without having to do a single bit of wire wrapping. Woo hoo!
If there is anything I have learned over the years, it is that sometimes less is more. Some of my best-selling and most loved pieces have been constructed entirely out of or with a little help from my best beading friend, the seed bead. Design doesn’t have to be about spending a fortune; it just has to be about good color choices and great construction. I hope this information provides beginners with a good place to start exploring – and even provides those who are more experienced with big new ways to look at our tiniest beads.
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