Ava Beads are another type of seed bead, the brainchild of the Potomac Bead Company. These beads are made in the Czech Republic, using the top quality Czech glass that all us beaders love! You will have noticed from the images, that Ava beads are a chevron or ‘V’ shape and have three holes. One hole is placed at the base of the V and the other two are through the two arms. Each bead measures 10x4mm. Although flat, these beads have a good depth which means their hole size is good. They come in a range of colours and retail packs typically include 20 beads. If you live in the US, you can buy direct from Potomac by following the link above. If you live in the UK, you can buy AVA beads here. If you live elsewhere in the world, then please choose which of those two options will be better for you!
The Ava beads have been hand-pressed, so this is a time-consuming process, but it does result in a really top quality product. I have had the pleasure of experimenting with them pre-launch, so you can read on to find out my top tips for using Ava beads, then some links to patterns to get you started.
Ava Beads Design
From a designer’s perspective, Ava Beads are great to work with. I’m writing this just as the beads launch and I can say that I’m not aware of any other V shaped seed beads. I can also say that I never really thought about the versatility of the V shape until I started using these beads. I think the basic design on its own is highly attractive, but of course a ‘V’ can also be made into a whole host of other shapes.
Combine 6 V’s and you have a snowflake. Layer them one inside the other and you have a stunning chevron pattern. Two V’s make a diamond. That simply gets you started on the flat options. I loved working with these beads because the holes are a good size, so that allows for plenty of room for multiple thread passes. I also found the hole structure is placed in such a way that the Ava beads can be easily combined with a whole host of other seed beads. I am still experimenting with 3-D ideas, but as I have been working, I have discovered the Ava beads can be manipulated to sit at many different angles, so there are a lot of dimensional possibilities. This bead is fascinating and certainly more than a one-trick pony.
Before I move on to give you some pattern links, my top tips for working with Ava Beads. My main tip will come as no surprise: check all the holes before you use the bead. Depending on the pattern you are working from, it could be some time after adding an Ava before you return to use another hole in the bead. So discovering a hole blockage at this point will be very frustrating. I did find some blocked holes in mine: sometimes the blockage can be wiggled out with a beading needle (use a strong one) or an awl, but not always.
The second tip is also really obvious. Take care to follow the pattern carefully so you pass through the right hole in your Ava. These are the same on front and back, so at least you do not need to worry about getting the bead the ‘right way up’, but as with any new shape, it can take a little time to get used to it.
Ava Beads Patterns
If chevrons are your thing, then you might like to try this Rosetta Necklace. It has a beautiful Rivoli focal so you will be combining the new beads with some familiar ideas and techniques. The pattern for this necklace is here.
The diamond is an eternally popular motif and of course Ava beads lend themselves to that design. This bracelet uses DiamonDuos and Kheops to play further with the motif. The whole bracelet is completed with a clever concealed clasp also playing on the diamond theme. Get the pattern here.
For another perspective, AVA beads work well to create a wavy pattern, as I discovered in this bracelet. I combined the AVAs with two other multi-holed beads from Potomac – RounTrios and DiscDuos. The thing I love about all these beads is that you can create complex looking designs very easily, so you don’t need to be an advanced beader to complete any of these projects. You can find this wavy bracelet tutorial here.
This AVA bead pendant tutorial uses just a handful of AVAs, so it is a great project to try if you don’t want to invest in too many AVA beads. The thread paths are simple, with some basic netting and a lot of stringing, but it can be a little fiddly to manoeuvre through the beads at times. If you are getting used to the AVA beads, then this is a great pattern to start and to give you a feel of some of their possibilities. You can download the pattern here.
For something a little different, try using AVA beads in a bead embroidery project. This pendant requires only a few beads, so is a great place to start. You can get to know the way the beads work and hopefully find some inspiration for more designs. Find the pattern here.