seed beads

Smootch has been winding beads on string of all times for years now but is just now getting the dexterity to bead with seed beads and the desire to create patterns. I'm totally thrilled! Seed beads, in addition to being inexpensive, come in every colour ever, are lightweight for the wee necks and wrists, and, because of their size, take long enough to bead a whole necklace that you can actually do a load of dishes between clasp-putting-on duties.

Smootch likes to use a beading wire that she can pick up the beads with without having to use a beading needle. We use a .018" gauge wire with a 20lb breaking point (which is less than her bodyweight - just in case). I put the findings on the end, just regular clasps held on with small crimps, and Smootch does the rest.

If you are helping out a preschooler with seed beads for the first time, I've made a list of ideas and tips that can keep the frustration levels down, for both you and the child.

- Pour the beads into a pile on a small tray or a piece of fabric like a dishtowel (to stop the beads from rolling). Teach the child to hold the needle or wire an inch or two back from the end and to pick up the beads with the wire, not with their other hand. They can even pick up two or more beads with a single pass at a pile of beads. At first it may be slower, it's a new skill after all, but when they get going it will go much faster for them than if they have to load each bead seperately.
-Start off with a small project like a braclet. The seed beads are very small and it's not an insta-craft, though you can put it down and come back later. Smootch still nearly always needs to have some end product that she can hold up to display the first few times out with a new project.
- To speed up necklaces, add long beads on the very end or throughout the project.
- When you begin to make patterns with beads, start with a two or three colour pattern. Do not worry about how many beads in each colour block, but put on some, for example, red beads, then some orange beads, then some blue beads. Then begin again with some red, some orange, some blue. The idea is that they can create a repetative pattern without getting hung up on how many of each bead to apply. Later patterns can become more exact and sophisicated. For now, it's enough to introduce the concept.
- Beading is pleasant work if there is some interesting distractions. Skip the tv, the beading will soon be forgotten as the eyes are pulled away. Music and chit-chat are ideal. Singing songs and rhymes are good too, especially if you can sing a song or a chant related to the beading. For Smootch, her love of books on tape has been rekindled while sitting at the table with a pile of beads.
(Excuse the pajamas - we seem to do most of our crafting in the morning before we're dressed.)
- If you are beading your own project alongside the child, move slowly. I've found that if I work at an adult's pace Smootch gets frustrated because she feels that her pace seems too slow in comparison and wants to quit, or worse, have me finish her project for her! Save the speedy beading for later, work just a bit slower than the child to help their confidence and patience.
- For you own sanity you must learn to be okay with the tink tink tink sound of beads hitting the floor everytime the child stands up. (It took me awhile not to make the 'big sigh' and smack my head whenever there was a spill.) Seed beads are inexpensive and easy to clean up. And if a huge spill occurs you can always clean up the lot by covering the end of a vacuum with a nylon and sucking them onto it. Easy.
If you've got some ideas too for beginning seed beaders please share! We can all benefit from each others wisdom.


  1. we like storynory.com to listen to while we work- nice for when you just can't think of anything else to say and you've run out of books on tape.

  2. OMG! Sticking a nylon on the end of the vacuum to pick up beads! Brilliant!

  3. Thanks for all the tips!! What is that 'tray' called that you use to put the design on?

  4. Moth and Bee, that's brillant! Thank you for the intro (I'm listening to Beauty and the Beast right now :)

    Rachel, that little idea has saved me tons of time, not to mention thousands of little beads.

    Caroline, the tray is a 'bead tray' and it's very helpful for designing and lining up your beads in the appropriate order. They are quite inexpensive and can be found almost anywhere they have a wide stock of beads. Mine was bought at Michaels.

  5. Hi,
    I am following your blog for quite some time now but today I wanted to share my tips for beading-I put the beads on a little dish (a one left cake dish is great..)since the edges are curled there are less spills, also when my girls wanted to bead on strings we used to secure it to the dish with a piece of duck tape.We also did a bead birthday party (for bigger girls at least 8 years old) which was a huge success. By the way the language in my blog is hebrew...