What do the numerical sizes for seed beads mean? Basically, sizes used to refer to how many beads fit into a certain space. Now that different manufacturers in different countries produce beads, this measurement is no longer valid but the numerical bead sizing system remains. Essentially, the higher the number, the smaller the bead. (I always say “The older I get, the thinner I get” to remember. Its not true – but it does jog my memory!) As an example, size 13 seed beads are much smaller than size 10 seed beads and may require different thread and needle choices. The Japanese started creating seed beads (Toho and Miyuki are the brand names) that were more uniform and slightly larger than the corresponding Czech seed beads, but the number system is the same.
Other beads are sized by their millimeter measurement. Patterns will refer to 4mm, 6mm, etc. beads used and it means just what it sounds like. 6mm beads are larger than 4mm beads, measured around the widest part of the bead. Even Japanese beads other than seed beads (i.e. cubes, triangles, drops) are measured by millimeter.
If you creating a project with a thicker material like leather, satin, silk, ribbon, etc., how do you finish the ends. There are two different ways. First, you can use a crimp end made for thicker materials. There are two different types – the ones to be attached to a clasp, and those that are there own clasp. Some you crimp, some you glue. These work fairly well, but can cost a bit and don’t provide a great deal of variety. The preferred method is to take your end through your clasp (or through a ring attached to the clasp and then fold it down against itself. Use a 3″ piece of wire (20 gage is easiest) and wrap it tightly around both pieces of leather. Cut off the wire ends, file smoothly and tuck them against the leather with a flat plier. This is more secure and lets you use any clasp you like.
Don’t like the look of flattened crimp beads? Me, neither. Instead of investing lots of money into special crimping pliers, learn to use crimp covers. They come in many sizes, metals and styles – find some that fit over the crimp bead completely after flattened. Take a flat plier (chain nose or bent chain nose work best) and gently squeeze the crimp cover closed. You may have to move your pliers several times to keep the cover round. Close all the way and it should look like a round bead.