An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Friday, March 19, 2010

When is being size 18, being tiny? The vintage micro bead and a visit to Prague

On my first day home from hospital I had a phone call from a local beader searching for tiny Size 18/0 seed beads. These tiny beads are amongst the smallest beads made and are often called micro or grain of sand beads. I do have some in my stash that date back to a visit I had to the Czech Republic in January 2006.
Four years on and as a result of that phone call I have listed some in my Destash shop.


Size 18/0 seed beads were primarily made in the late 1800s in Venice and are quite hard to source in current times. Imagine my delight in finding them in the Czech republic.
The Czech Republic has long been associated with the glass bead industry so you can imagine my delight in learning that I was to visit Central Prague (‘the old town’) as part of my 'daytime' job. The only downside was that the visit would be in mid-January when daytime temperatures rose to just above zero degrees most days. For a girl who loves the Australian summer it was quite a shock. On my arrival I quickly found Central Prague has dozens of jewellers selling items made of Czech crystal, Bohemian glass, as well as amber, garnets and other precious materials. However, when I visited in January 2006 Central Prague had only one serious bead shop (starBEADS - Braving the bitter winds and temperatures well below zero I set out to explore starBEADS' delights. It was a tiny shop in a tiny little arcade. It sold Czech glass beads and Swarovski crystal beads; various made-up necklaces (see photo) earrings, and bracelets; and some kits. As a sead bead weaver I found little to excite me sufficiently enough to make up for the freezing temperatures I had endured to get there. But, as in most things perservence pays, and not long afterwards I stumbled upon a small market stall where I bought the tiniest beads I had ever seen - Size 18/0 vintage Czech glass seed beads. At the same time the stall owner sold me some very fine beading needles and XXX Nymo beading thread to use with them. As I didn't speak the local language and the stall owner spoke only a little English it was hard to find out much about their origins. All I can say is that I bought them in Prague four years ago. Like the weather in Prague in that January, these beads are not for the fainthearted beader. However, it's great to learn that there are beader's out there keen to find a place for them in their creations. If you use Size 18/0 in your work I'd love to feature some examples in my next blog post, so please do let me know.


Ruthie said...

Wow - I can't imagine working with beads that small! Thanks for sharing your story :)

Kokopelli said...

I just started to work with 15/0's, so for the 18/0's I will need some time. With 18/0's one could add so much detail to beadwork.

Angelque Creations said...

Glenda, very interesting post, learned something new which is always a good thing

KRDesigns11 said...

I have a source for micro beads and other tiny beads, pearls and gem stones in the US. I found it looking for charlottes which I use in size 15, smallest. I like the size 14 Italian seed beads, but the few 18 - 20 size I bought remain in the sealed package.
He also sells the needle and thread sizes for the micro beads.

Shirley Lim said...

I do have the micro beads in my stash waiting to be used. Too small and precious to be used =)

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