An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dots, dyes and durability in Delica beads: getting organised to avoid disappointment

After yet another foray onto Miyuki’s website to check the durability of the finish of some Delicas I want to use in my latest project I’ve finally decided it’s time to get better oragnised on this front. I’m off buy some sticky coloured dots that I can use to mark the containers of the Delicas in my stash that have less durable finishes because after a couple of disasters with Delica finishes ‘wearing off’ I seem to spend as much time on Miyuki’s website checking out the durability of finishes as I do beading.

My first durability disaster hit with the first Delica project I ever did (see photo) back in the late 1990s. It was an amulet purse I designed inspired by a piece of gold threaded Thai silk I had seen on holiday in Thailand. The silk was worn by a Thai classical dancer wear during a delightful dance performance I had seen. I was so delighted with the finished piece that I wore it daily and within a week or two the bright tumeric coloured Delica beads began to loose their colour. So, I learnt the hard way to avoid dyed Delica beads.

Other hard lessons followed as I learnt through experience that several seed bead finishes are not durable. The lack of durability of several seed bead finishes is not a secret – for instance, Miyuki’s website allows you to check durability by bead number and many bead sellers keep a chart of bead finish durability. However, my disappointments with durability arose because not all sellers do this and not all bead labelling includes information about finishes. Unfortunately, this means that impulse bead buying when this information is lacking can bring diasters in their wake. I have quite a stash of beads bought this way that I now need to be very wary of using.

There are several ways to avoid the durability disappointments I've had.
  • Be particularly alert to beads that have a very vibrant or unusual color especially if they tones of purple and pink.
  • Learn the language of seed bead finishes so you can make a judgement before you buy.
  1. Ceylon (clear beads that have been lustred that have a shiny pearly finish ) – may sometimes fade in sunlight
  2. Dyed (often very bright colours) – friction and skin acids bring them back to white beads
  3. Galvinized (metallic finishes) – can rub off with friction from wear or other beads and with chemical reactions to skin oils and acids
  4. Inside colour or painted linings – can rub off the inside over time
  5. Plated (metallic finishes) – relatively permanent but can rub off with friction
  6. Silver lined (very sparkly) – these can go black overtime
  • Test beads before you work with them by either spraying window cleaner on them or sitting them on a dampened paper towel for a while – the colour on dyed beads is vulnerable to this test.
  • Create your own durability labelling system for your bead stash. My hope is to have a simple dot system for those that I already own that I can remember easily:
  1. Ceylon – yellow to remind me that they might fade in the sun
  2. Dyed – white to remind me they fade back to white
  3. Galvinized – green cos it starts with G too
  4. Painted linings – pink cos it starts with P too
  5. Plated – silver because silver is often plated
  6. Silver lined – black to remind me that they turn black
Mind you I may need to rethink my system after I visit my local newsagency. I suspect their line of colored dots is rather limited.

If you really want to use non-durable finishes – or like me – have a stash of them bought in ignorance you can apparently produce a more durable finish if coat them with clear acrylic spray paint before using them or dip the finished work into clear acrylic floor wax. I haven’t tried either of these methods but I’d be curious to know if anyone else has and what you think works best. What other tricks and tips do you have to avoid the disappointments non-durable seed bead finishes can bring?

Delica durability charts


WhimsiGals said...

Very interesting post Glenda :-)


Ruthie said...

It's very frustrating that seeds don't keep their beads huh?

Kokopelli said...

How I hate when a beadwoven piece has fading beads in it! All the time spent creating it completely in vein! Thanks for sharing this, but I have no ideas how to avoid fading. Heard about the floor wax method but never tried.

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