I have been doing a LOT of beading in the last week. As in, nonstop during the waking hours. I'm thisclose to catching up on my deadlines for various projects and I am so excited about it! But as I've been working away, I have a lot of mental free time and I've been trying to pay attention to some of the little things I do as I work that can make a big difference in the quality of the beadwork I create.
First and foremost, I cull my beads. A lot. When I was first starting out beading, I didn't like to cull. Who wants to throw those precious little beadies away??? But as my stash of beads got bigger and I felt less worried about running out (although I still have moments! LOL!) I started to let go a little bit. And I began to push aside those beads that were much taller or shorter than the rest of them.
As time went on, I also started noticing that if you look at the beads from the top, down through the holes, there can be big differences in hole sizes, especially if you're working with galvanized, color-lined, or Czech seed beads. At first I figured if I could get my needle through the hole, it didn't really matter. Except sometimes it DID matter - like at the ends of a piece where my needle and thread must go through each bead many times to secure my clasp. So now I cull out the small hole guys too.
My Bead On It Board is a lifesaver when it comes to helping me cull, because most of the beads will pour out so the holes are all up. And they don't roll around as much. I haven't talked about the Bead On It Boards here on the blog, but they are now one of my must-have beading tools. You can purchase them at www.beadonitboards.com, and I'll also have a permanent link on the sidebar for them.
Here's an example of some "good" galvanized beads and some culled out beads. On the top are the good ones - they're all the same height (which you can't see at this angle of photo, but trust me) and the holes are all nice and big. On the bottom, you'll notice some of the beads have tiny holes (especially that one in the first row on the left) and the others are height issues.
As a result of my careful bead selection not only will I have an easier time with finishing my project (no blocked holes) but when photographed there will be no oddball sizing issues that jump out. My project will flow more smoothly. And I'll be a happier beader.
Don't fret about those culled out beads either. You can make art with them! This is the large vase we purchased about two years ago in which we throw all our oddball beads. The layers of color tell a story about various projects we've worked on over time, and in some cases big bead spills or accidental bead combos that we didn't feel like separating out. It sits on our fireplace hearth and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.