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Bead

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Bead

">trivets. Later, when the beads were made of polyethylene, it became possible to fuse them with a flat iron. In 2005, Munkplast/Nabbi introduced the Photo Pearls software that converts digital photos to bead designs. Hama come in three sizes: mini (diameter 2.5 mm), midi (5 mm) and maxi (10 mm). Perler beads come in two sizes called classic (5 mm) and biggie (10 mm). Pyssla beads (by IKEA) only come in one size (5 mm).

Manufacturing

Modern mass-produced beads are generally shaped by carving or casting, depending on the material and desired effect. In some cases, more specialized metalworking or glassworking techniques may be employed, or a combination of multiple techniques and materials may be used such as in cloisonné.

Glassworking

Pressed glass beads (matte finish with an AB coating)
Fire polished beads (10 millimetres (0.39 in)) with AB coating

Most glass beads are pressed glass, mass-produced by preparing a molten batch of glass of the desired color and pouring it into molds to form the desired shape. This is also true of most plastic beads.

A smaller and more expensive subset of glass and lead crystal beads are cut into precise faceted shapes on an individual basis. This was once done by hand but has largely been taken over by precision machinery.

"Fire-polished" faceted beads are a less expensive alternative to hand-cut faceted glass or crystal. They derive their name from the second half of a two-part process: first, the glass batch is poured into round bead molds, then they are faceted with a grinding wheel. The faceted beads are then poured onto a tray and briefly reheated just long enough to melt the surface, "polishing" out any minor surface irregularities from the grinding wheel.

Specialized glass techniques and types

Dichroic beads (10 millimetres (0.39 in))
Furnace glass beads

There are several specialized glassworking techniques that create a distinctive appearance throughout the body of the resulting beads, which are then primarily referred to by the glass type.

If the glass batch is used to create a large massive block instead of pre-shaping it as it cools, the result may then be carved into smaller items in the same manner as stone. Conversely, glass artisans may make beads by lampworking the glass on an individual basis; once formed, the beads undergo little or no further shaping after the layers have been properly annealed.

Most of these glass subtypes are some form of fused glass, although goldstone is created by controlling the reductive atmosphere and cooling conditions of the glass batch rather than by fusing separate components together.

Dichroic glass beads incorporate a semitransparent microlayer of metal between two or more layers. Fibre optic glass beads have an eyecatching chatoyant effect across the grain.

There are also several ways to fuse many small glass canes together into a multicolored pattern, resulting in millefiori beads or chevron beads (sometimes called "trade beads"). "Furnace glass" beads encase a multicolored core in a transparent exterior layer which is then annealed in a furnace.

More economically, millefiori beads can also be made by limiting the patterning process to long, narrow canes or rods known as murrine. Thin cross-sections, or "decals", can then be cut from the murrine and fused into the surface of a plain glass bead.

Shapes

Hair pipe beads

Elk rib bones were the original material for the long, tubular hair pipe beads.[5] Today these beads are commonly made of bison and water buffalo bones and are popular for breastplates and chokers among Plains Indians. Black variations of these beads are made from the animals' horns.

Seed beads

Seed beads are uniformly shaped spheroidal or tube shaped beads ranging in size from under a millimetre to several millimetres. "Seed bead" is a generic term for any small bead. Usually rounded in shape, seed beads are most commonly used for loom and off-loom bead weaving.

Place or period of origin

Carved Cinnabar lacquer beads

African trade beads or slave beads may be antique beads that were manufactured in Europe and used for trade during the colonial period, such as chevron beads; or they may have been made in West Africa by and for Africans, such as Mauritanian Kiffa beads, Ghanaian and Nigerian powder glass beads, or African-made brass beads.

Austrian crystal is a generic term for cut lead-crystal beads, based on the location and prestige of the Swarovski firm.

Czech glass beads are made in the Czech Republic, centralized around an area called Jablonec nad Nisou. Production of glass beads in the area dates back to the 14th century, though production was depressed under communist rule. Because of this long tradition, their workmanship and quality has an excellent reputation.

Vintage beads, in the collectibles and antique market, refers to items that are at least 25 or more years old. Vintage beads are available in materials that include lucite, plastic, crystal, metal and glass.

Miscellaneous ethnic beads

Tibetan Dzi beads and Rudraksha beads are used to make Buddhist and Hindu rosaries (malas). Magatama are traditional Japanese beads, and cinnabar was often used for beads in China. Wampum are cylindrical white or purple beads made from quahog or North Atlantic channeled whelk shells by northeastern Native American tribes, such as the Wampanoag and Shinnecock.[6] Job's tears are seed beads popular among southeastern Native American tribes. Heishe are beads made of shells or stones by the Kewa Pueblo people of New Mexico.

Symbolic meaning of beads

In many parts of the world, beads are used for symbolic purposes, for example:

Surface patterns

After shaping, glass and crystal beads can have their surface appearance enhanced by etching a translucent frosted layer, applying an additional colour layer, or both. Aurora Borealis, or AB, is a surface coating that diffuses light into a rainbow. Other surface coatings are vitrail, moonlight, dorado, satin, star shine, and heliotrope.

Faux beads are beads that are made to look like a more expensive original material, especially in the case of fake pearls and simulated rocks, minerals and gemstones. Precious metals and ivory are also imitated.

Tagua nuts from South America are used as an ivory substitute since the natural ivory trade has been restricted worldwide.

See also

References

  1. ^ Shell beads suggest new roots for culture
  2. ^ 82,000-year-old shell beads from North Africa and implications for the origins of modern human behavior
  3. ^ Swedish patent 217875: Sätt att för arbetsterapi e.d. framställa permanenta, mönstrade skivor samt möstrad skiva framställd enligt sättet, applied April 24, 1962; granted July 6, 1967; published December 19, 1967.
  4. ^ Bead design by four year old
  5. ^ Dubin 43, 44
  6. ^ Dubin, 170-171

Further reading

  • Beck, Horace (1928) "Classification and Nomenclature of Beads and Pendants." Archaeologia 77. (Reprinted by Shumway Publishers York, PA 1981)
  • Dubin, Lois Sherr. North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment: From Prehistory to the Present. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999: 170-171. ISBN 0-8109-3689-5.
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