Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peanut bead question

This morning I got an Etsy conversation from someone asking about the size of the peanut beads.  I was all set to take a picture or two, send her the answer, and I thought....  Hey!  This would make a good blog post!  I've been wanting to blog more, and this is the perfect excuse.

This bracelet is my "Shadowed Diamonds" pattern that I've been nattering on about for months, and the one I'm teaching at the Bead&Button Show in *12* days!  I'm all set for the class, but I'm getting other designs ready for Meet the Teachers.  I'm super excited!

Where was I?  Oh - right.  Stop nattering on about class.  Start nattering on about sizes.

What's really interesting is that I was about to start writing this blog and my Beading Daily e-mail came in, covering a similar topic!  You can read about it here.

Peanut beads are approximately 3x4mm.  The beads that are typically used for peyote stitching are 11/0 cylinder beads, or Delicas.  Delica is a brand name, but it's generically used like Xerox or Kleenex.  The magazines say cylinder beads.  Anyway, cylinders/Delicas are a touch over 1mm across.

I made a handy-dandy picture so you can see some commonly used seed beads in comparison to peanut beads and twin seed beads:

The reason we use cylinders for peyote instead of rounds is that the sides of cylinders are flat and fit nicely next to each other.  We can use rounds, but the result isn't quite as nice as with cylinders.

From this picture you can see that peanuts and twins are much bigger than what we typically use.

Why use peanut beads in our stitching, then?  They won't "click" together as nicely as cylinders, and they look all round and knobby, besides.  Well, that's why I like using them.  They produce an interesting, dimensional look and a substantial feel, and they work up quicker than cylinders.

Here's my Shadowed Diamonds pattern close up in both peanuts and cylinders:

And here's the side:

(I had to curve the cylinder one a little so it would stand up.)

The peanuts stand up when you peyote them, giving a double layer look and feel.  I think it would be wonderful if they could come with different colors on each end.  That would make stitching a little trickier (which end is up?), but you'd have a reversible piece!

When I started working with peanuts the little round nubs sticking up reminded me of something.... pegs on a Lite Brite board!  I then found color-lined peanuts that really shone against black, and I designed a few simplistic (on purpose) patterns reminiscent of playing with a Lite Brite.  Since that name is taken (and I don't want to get sued), I call them StarLite.  My husband came up with that.  Isn't he clever?

Here's a StarLite Mini Flowers bracelet:

StarLite Mini Hearts earrings:

At this point I should note that there are different types and even sizes of peanut-shaped beads.  There are peanuts (made in Japan), bowties or farfalles (made in the Czech republic), and berry beads (made in ??).  The dark red in the above earrings are bowties and absolutely gorgeous!  Bowties can be stitched with peanuts, but berry beads cannot.  They're a little bigger, so I've heard.  I haven't seen them and haven't sought them out since I heard that they don't play nicely with the other beads.

One last example - tubular peyote.  If you've ever stitched a full necklace with tubular peyote, you know how long and arduous a task it is.  I've done it a few times and love the results, but I wanted to poke my eye out with my needle about three inches in (I have how many more inches to go?  ACK!!).  I tried it with peanut beads, and it works up SO much quicker.  Not all of the peanuts like to lie flat, but that gives the rope an interesting look.

Here's my StarLite Dots necklace:

One thing about this - if you're going to learn tubular peyote with peanuts (or any beads, for that matter), don't start with black.  We learned this the hard way when I taught this design at a local bead store.  Oops!  We should have learned with a different color than switched to the black for the necklace.

All I know is that my yard chicken, Kirby, likes to wear it:

(This is what happens when you're out too long in the sun trying to find good places to take pictures of your jewelry.  He's adorable, though, right?)

So how's that for an answer to a very simple question?

I just realized that my last two blog posts were (very long) answers to questions.  Anyone else have any questions?  I'm full of opinions knowledge.


  1. You are correct on berry beads not playing well with others. They're fat little buggers That's a serious bummer. Funny you should post this today since I dragged all my peanuts out an hour ago for a new design and grumbled at my berry beads once again.

    In answer to your "berry beads (made in ??)"... Peanuts and berries are both Japanese. Peanuts are made by Toho and Berries are made by Miyuki.

  2. Dear Traci, You make me want to turn to the Sparkly Side! No! No! I can't start another hobby.

  3. oh that is why I could not find them. the site I order supplies through don't carry peanuts, they carry farfalles thoe! will have to continue my hunt for a local bead store besides Michael's.

  4. I've only been hovering at the edges of beading lately and never knew about peanut beads lol. Great projects, and I adore your lawn chicken :D.