Updated November 28, 2023.
Even though I also work with beads for making jewelry and needlework accessories, I must admit that beads on canvas mostly baffle me. Seed beads are measured in sizes that tell you, roughly, how many beads are in an inch. It’s like canvas: the smaller the number, the bigger the bead. But then there are questions of shape and finish that make a huge difference in the finished look of your beading.
That’s why I’m so delighted with Jane from Chilly Hollow’s post about beads. While she doesn’t cover every kind of bead finish out there, she does a wonderful and detailed analysis of the three candidates for her current project.
There are a few other finishes, I’d like to help decipher for you as well. You’ll see seed beads classified this way. They can be applied to any bead shape, although I’ve mostly seen them on round and cylindrical beads.
Silver-lined beads are clear glass on the outside and the hole is lined with silver. This gives them an underlying metallic glow, while not looking metallic. They are one of my favorites to use in bead mixtures like the mustard box, pictured above, because they add a nice sparkle.
Frosted beads have a finish on them giving them a matte, dusty look. While there are other kinds of opaque and matte beads, these are recognizable by the dusty, frosted look.
Opalescent beads also have a coating on them, but this one gives the beads a multi-colored “oil slick” look. I have seen this finish on both shiny and matte beads. I love it because it’s a texture you don’t find in many threads, so adding opalescent beads to your needlepoint is a great effect.
There is so much more to explore in the world of beads and needlepoint. One of the most inspiring things you can do is visit a local bead store and try out some of the wonderful things you see there.