We are now lucky enough to have several different types of long, thin bead to choose from and although they were developed primarily for the bead weaving and bead embroidery market, they work extremely well in kumihimo.
So what do they offer and do we need them all?
It is true that the different shapes can be seen as interchangeable, but they all offer subtle differences. I have made up my On the Edge design using three different shapes. The original design, in the middle, uses Long Drops, which have a blunt tip. Their effect in the bracelet is to give it a squared-off look and they make the bracelet look wider and chunkier.
On the right I have used Rizo beads, which are shaped like a grain of rice and they give the bracelet a much more delicate look, especially when they have AB coatings.
On the left is my most recent experiment, which uses Solo beads. With their wider base and tapered tip they combine elements of the other two beads.
It seems to me that the more choice available to the jewellery maker the better. These beads are made by different manufacturers, so a wide range of colours and finishes is available. It is the choice of shape, colour and finish which make each piece of jewellery unique. Even when a pattern is being followed it is possible to customise it by making subtle changes. If jewellery is being made for sale it is good to be able to offer customers variety within a range, so that they feel they are buying a one-off item.
After using all three of these bead shapes I do not really have a favourite. I love the way they all have something to offer. However, I do need to point out that Long Drops have the largest hole, making them the easiest to thread. The hole in Solos is slightly smaller and the smallest hole is in the Rizo.
If you want to try this design, which includes a detailed threading chart to ensure that the shaped beads are on the edges of the bracelet, you will find it by clicking here.