Seed beads are very small glass beads used in a variety of crafts. Their small size makes them ideal for a range of projects, from beaded garments to necklaces. The beads range greatly in color and configuration, and a number of companies specialize in making seed beads. Most craft stores sell seed beads, and they can also be ordered directly if mass quantities or rare configurations are desired.
Typically, seed beads are roughly spherical in shape, and they do strongly resemble seeds, since they are so small. Some seed beads have slightly flattened ends, so that they will create a smoother line when they are strung together, and some are elongated to various degrees. Specialty seed beads may also have facets, so that they appear to wink and sparkle in the light.
The tone of the glass also varies, from transparent seed beads to opaque varieties. In some cases, the beads may be lined with metal so that they acquire a metallic cast, or they may have a lustrous or opalescent finish. A wide range of colors are also available, with some beads being formed from multicolored glass while others are uniform in color.
The quality of seed beads varies widely. Some companies use very precise glass blowing methods, so that their seed beads are very even in size and shape. These seed beads tend to be more expensive, since they represent more effort. Other companies have less exacting manufacturing methods, and they produce irregularly shaped products which may sometimes arrive fused together due to careless handling.
There are a number of ways to purchase seed beads. Many craft stores sell them strung in hanks of one hundred or more, since the beads are so small that a large number are needed for most craft projects. The beads may also be sold in small containers or tins so that they are not as easy to lose, or they may be loose and sold by weight, so that crafters can pick out as many as they please.
Many people use seed beads as spacers in necklaces, to accent garments and craft projects, or in woven beaded projects like belts. The small beads are also common in vintage clothing, and many companies make reproduction beads designed specifically for repairing vintage garments. Crafters who want to start beading may want to consider the purchase of a tackle box to keep their beads in, so that the colors will be separated while the beads are also confined, as they are very easy to lose.