How many types of beads are there? Well, essentially, a bead is any small, solid object with a hole through it to allow the threading of a string, chain, or wire. Therefore, there is technically no limit to the number of bead materials that exist.
This makes finding the right bead material for your artistic project a bit tricky, to say the least. Still, the information in this guide will help a lot.
Although this is hardly a complete list, this guide describes the most common bead materials used in most crafts/projects. Read on to learn more about your many bead options.
1. Cheap, Plastic Beads
For general arts and craft projects, especially those for children, you can’t go wrong with plastic beads. They are very cheap and come in an enormous variety of colors and textures. For example, your kids can have fun making bead necklaces while also building up a number of skills, including:
- Pattern recognition
- Artistic/design skills
- Fine motor control
- Hand-eye coordination
These beads can break somewhat easily but are cheap to replace. Also, plastic is not ideal for gluing. If your project involves gluing beads, use a different bead material.
2. Wood Beads
Wood beads are a good choice in a lot of situations. For one thing, you can carve your own wood beads, which adds another layer of creativity to your project.
You can therefore shape them however you want to. Also, they will stick to glue and paint, unlike plastic beads. So you can paint them however you like as well.
In fact, painted or stained wood beads are the traditional choice for certain projects, like Buddhist prayer beads. In summary, wood beads are versatile, customizable, and natural.
3. Metal Beads
Metal beads have an attractive, powerful quality to them that really makes a statement. Most metal beads are difficult to paint or customize.
But it’s not necessary to do so, anyway, since the raw appearance of metal is so varied and attractive on its own. For a good example of this, take a look at these metal beads.
The main thing to beware of when working with metal beads is that some types of metal can tarnish or rub off onto skin or certain other materials. Do your research before working with metal beads.
4. Gemstone Beads
Gemstone beads are, of course, beautiful. But they’re also rare and expensive. Since it’s difficult to put a hole through gemstones, they are usually fastened to a metal backing to be used as beads.
5. Glass/Ceramic Beads
Glass is a cheap but effective substitute to gemstone beads. And, they’re nicer-looking and more scratch-resistant than plastic.
Ceramic materials can also be used to mimic a number of natural bead materials, including metal and seashells.
6. Other Natural Bead Materials
Other natural bead materials (that look amazing, by the way) include seashells, coral, and other ocean-derived materials. Volcanic rock is another popular option.
Which Bead Material Is Right For Your Next Project?
So, which bead material is best? That depends on your budget, your skill level, and the type of project you wish to create. In any case, remember this information and use this guide to choose the right type of bead for your needs.
Next, check out our guide on common ring sizes or our tips on how to plan for your wedding. Find these posts and other great advice in our Fashion archives.