Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

Cherry “Quartz”?

I admit it…when I first saw “Cherry Quartz” I loved the pinky-salmony color. I was in Alpharetta, Georgia visiting a bead shop with a friend, and couldn’t resist a strand of smooth chunks. The resulting necklace is below. I still like the necklace, but I have since learned a lot about this “stone.”

“Cherry Quartz,” being sold by vendors at wholesale shows, is actually a type of glass. Gemologists became suspicious of this materials when they noticed bubbles in the “stones” which turned out to be spherical gas bubbles.

There is a similar product, which I also am a sucker for, called “Pineapple Quartz.” It is a translucent yellow and I just love its light buttery color. It too is glass.

So if you like it – enjoy it! Make sometime beautiful but do not be fooled. The gas bubbles are often visible to the naked eye. If you get it for a good price, have fun with it as you would with any beautiful glass bead.


August 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

A Primer on Cords and Threads

(First in a Series)

So many cords and threads to choose from!  How do you choose?  While many cords and threads have can be used interchangeably, it is important to know why some threads work better than others.  It may be due to the medium you are using (stones, metal, seed beads, etc.) or because of the method (multiple passes, weaving, straight stringing.)  I will be talking about many different stringing media in this and future articles.

Silk – Silk is mainly used for knotting pearls and gemstones.  It is soft and strong, and comes in a variety of colors and diameters.  The thinnest diameter is 00 (.005mm/.127”) and the thickest is FFF (.0165mm/.419”.)   Silk is sleek and knots beautifully.  If you are knotting pearls, you want to use silk, never a synthetic thread.  Silk can be dyed to make any color you want.  Simply put a few grains of RIT dye in a cup with boiling water and dip your white silk until you reach the color saturation you wish.  Rinse well.  Dyes can be mixed for custom colors as well.  Silk can be purchased in bulk spools, or pre-carded with a needle.  I often use two different colored strands of silk to enhance the beads I’m knotting – for instance, one peach and one olive with unakite, one sage green and one lavender with lapis Nevada.  Silk can also be used in kumihimo or in Chinese braiding and knotting.  You can make a self-needle out of silk by using gum arabic beading glue to stiffen the ends.   German beadsilk generally is more “twisty” which works well in a “Tin Cup” style necklace, where there are distances of silk between the beads.  Chinese silk has less of a rope-like appearance and knots well.  You can use silk thread with French wire for a professional look, or hide the cord knot with a clamshell tip.  One last note:  In an earlier post I spoke about Gudebrod silk thread.  Sadly, Gudebrod has gone out of business.  For silk thread, Beadsmith has both the German and the Chinese thread, both are very high quality.


March 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

What Seed Bead Color Names Mean

It can be confusing to determine what a seed bead looks like based on its description!  Here are some commonly used terms (and some not-so-common) to help you along.

Transparent beads are clear and tinted, and you can see through them.  Light is visible through the beads.

An AB (aurora borealis) finish is a rainbow effect on one side of the glass bead.

Opaque beads are a solid color and do not allow light to pass through.

Silver-Lined beads have a shiny silver color-lining of a transparent bead.   The bead may be crystal, or any other transparent color.  There is a mirrored effect coming from the center of the bead making them metallic looking

Color Lined beads have a color lining of an transparent bead.   The colors vary, including special color effects.   The transparent bead may be crystal, or any other transparent color.

Matte (or Frosted) beads have an etched look to them.

Semi-matte beads have a mixed glossy/matte finish to them.   They are a little brighter than regular matte finish beads.

Metallic and Metallic Iris beads have a metallized finish.   Sometimes, this finish rubs off.   Use a clear fixative like Krylon spray.

An Iris finish is a multicolor effect, which creates a rainbow type effect all around each bead, but also causes a range of color hues and tones within any mix.  It appears to look like a drop of oil spilled in water.  For example, Blue Iris is black with blue rainbow effect, but solid in color.

A luster finish creates an irridescent shine around the bead.  Lustered beads are rich, shiny, semi-transparent with a very high gloss.

Galvanized beads have a coated finished applied to the glass through a galvanization process.  This finish does come off, so we suggest you use a clear fixative, like Krylon spray.

Ceylon beads have a pearlized finish.   Sometimes the pearlized finish has been dyed to attain a particular color.

Alabaster S/L Dyed beads started with a silver-lined translucent bead, and then dye the bead to a certain color.    As with all dyed beads,  use a clear fixative, like Krylon spray.

Iridescent, another word for Aurora Borealis has a rainbow effect, usually transparent.

Iris denotes a bead which is usually a dark color (almost black) with tinting of the color mentioned.

Lined beads are  clear on the outside, color in the inside.

Opalescent beads have an opal-like effect in translucent materials.

Opaque Charlottes, also known as “one cuts” are solid in color with occasional facets, usually a 13/0 bead, used in many higher quality Native American beadwork pieces.  This type of bead is hard to come by in a variety of colors.

Roccaile beads are silver-lined, usually 10/0, round beads with a square hole

Satin Glass beads are shimmering translucent glass that appears to to consist of fibers of different tones of the same color.

carabee finish is a rich, opaque Iris (rainbow) coating, usually over a whole jet glass bead.

Straited beads have swirls and streaks of other tones or colors within the body of the bead.

October 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

Vera Wang says:

“Jewelry allows women to express themselves in a way that clothing simply cannot.”

June 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

Removing that Chalky Bead Release, Part II

So this is actually pretty funny.  I wrote a post a while back about using denture tablets to remove bead release.

Recently I received a shipment of beautiful Indian lampworked glass beads, all FULL of that nasty chalk.  But…no denture tablets arounds.  On a scheduled trip to the dentist, I asked for a sample, but they no longer provide them.  So…what to do?  GOOGLE IT, of course!

To my surprise, the very first thing that came up was my own blog!  That didn’t help me one bit – I already knew the denture tablet trick.  I couldn’t find another thing about it!

I gave it a little thought and decided to try a little trick I use to clean my sinks (thank you, Heloise.)  I put the beads in a plastic dishpan, put in some baking soda, and then covered the beads with vinegar!  The combination causes a lot of fierce bubbling.  I let the beads soak for a while, and when I drained off the vinegar solution, the bottom of the pan was thick with bead release.

So there you go…a cheap, eco-friendly way to clean beads.

baking soda

July 3, 2009 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment

Swarovski Crystal Birthstone Equivalent Chart

Let’s face it – you can’t ALWAYS use diamonds in your work, but you want to do something with a birthstone theme. Here is a chart of Austrian crystal equivalents to use in place of real gemstones.

January – Garnet

February – Amethyst

March – Aqua

April – Clear Crystal

May – Emerald

June – Light Amethyst

July – Ruby

August – Peridot

September – Sapphire

October – Rose

November – Topaz

December – Blue Zircon or Light Sapphire or Montana

Swarovski Crystals

February 10, 2009 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Patti Whiteley – Friend and Fellow Beader

On Saturday, January 31st, the bead community lost an active and creative community member in Patti Whiteley. Patti was a long-time member of the Bead Society of New Jersey, a member of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers and other bead and glass beadmaking groups.

Patti was a designer and fused-glass beadmaker. Her work was featured in the book “1000 Glass Beads.” She often attended Bead & Button, taking classes and enjoying the shopping and schmoozing. She was very active in many online bead communities as well.

Beyond all that, Patti was my dear friend.  We often lunched together (Thai being our favorite – Patti was so fond of the mango mousse she would get a plate of that first before getting her entree!  We always laughed about it.)  We gave each other advice and counsel, and commiserated.   I will forever miss her friendship.  I can hear the sound of her voice in my ears even now.

Patti’s work can be seen at


Patti's Fused Glass Pendant

Patti's Fused Glass Pendant

1000 Glass Beads

1000 Glass Beads

February 3, 2009 at 6:44 pm Leave a comment

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