What are DiamonDuo Beads?
As soon as you hear this name, you must surely think of Superduos and Miniduos, so once again, the clue is in the name. DiamonDuo beads are a little larger than Superduos and they have the same two-hole structure, but they also have a much more pronounced shape and a little bit of surface texture on one side, with a flat back. In this sense, they reminded me a little of Silky Beads. So, when I received a packet of DiamonDuos with which to experiment, my first thought was to see how they compared to these two types of beads.
How to Work with DiamonDuo beads
Instead of starting to create some new designs, I thought it would be interesting to try working up some existing designs for which I had used Superduos or Silky Beads to see how the DiamonDuo beads compared. This is something that you can try yourself. If you are browsing your local bead shop and see a new shape of bead that you haven’t tried before, but which appeals to you, then this is an easy way to start using it. I know a lot of people are a little wary of diving in and designing for themselves, so this way you don’t have to. Start by taking a close look at your new bead and see which of the beads you’ve used, or seen, in the past it most closely resembles. Find a pattern using one of those beads, so you will know what you are going to be creating, then try it with the new beads. Now, I can’t guarantee that it will work. It often seems as though these new beads are superfluous – just another small modification of something that already exists – but looks can be deceptive. I know I have said this before, but the thing I keep finding about new shaped beads is that it is impossible to tell how they will work until you actually use them. So, don’t be surprised, or concerned if you try a new bead in a pattern and find it is a disaster. Just use this as a learning opportunity and you may even find that the lessons you learned lead you to stumble upon your own design.
What did I learn?
You can see from the photos that I took some of my existing designs using either Silky Beads or Superduos and tried a small sample from them using the DiamonDuo beads. It soon became clear that a few trends were emerging. Superduos work equally well whether they are used in flat projects or to create spirals or three dimensional work. Silky beads work well when used flat. In this sense, DiamonDuos are closer to Silky beads in that they work best when used for flat work.
You can see that the Silky Cuff bracelet and the Beginner’s Twinhole Herringbone bracelet both translate well into DiamonDuo designs. However, the size of the DiamonDuo beads is different to both these beads, so if you are adapting patterns, then you may need to work some serious adaptations in order to combine different beads together. I found that I needed to use size 11 instead of size 15 beads, and used four instead of three for each stitch in my Herringbone bracelet. In the Silky bracelet, I found that there is less space between the edges of the DiamonDuos, so it was creating quite a curve when I added in a pair of Lentils and I certainly did not need the additional row of Lentils, so this design needed some modification.
Interestingly, the Superduo Spiral pattern did not require any modification in the other beads I used, but I did feel that the DiamonDuos were not shown off as well because you can see both the ‘right’ (raised) side and the ‘wrong’ (flat) side. This was certainly an interesting experiment. It was a great way for me to get to feel the strengths and weakness of the DiamonDuo Beads. So, armed with this new knowledge, I continued to begin creating some brand new designs.
Experimenting with New Ideas
I often find myself taking a new shaped bead and just laying it in different patterns on my beading mat. I’ve tried this with Honeycombs, with AVA beads, Kheops, Tilas and now with the DiamonDuo beads. All of these bead types have one thing in common: they have a strong geometric shape which allows them to ‘tessellate’ (there’s a word that takes me back to Maths classes at school!). This basically means, you can sit them side by side to create larger patterns. The problem I have consistently found with this type of experiment, is that the hole structure in the beads means thread paths do not always work. There can be a couple of issues: either you end up with too much thread showing as you jump from one hole to the next in order to make the pattern work, or the thread path is just impossible as it does not give the beads enough structure to hold in place.
Recently, I have been getting into (make that addicted to!) bead embroidery. This made me realise that these patterns I’ve been making on my beading mat can be replicated. With bead embroidery, you are stitching onto a fabric backing, so you can place the beads wherever you wish and hold them in place with a stitch through each hole. So the ‘jump’ between holes takes place underneath the fabric backing and cannot be seen. The fabric backing gives the structure that I have sometimes found lacking in bead-weaving. So, I had been placing the DiamonDuo Beads in a lovely flower-like arrangement. When I tried to use this in bead-weaving, I hit a couple of problems. If I just linked the central holes, I then had to make a really big jump to get to the outer hole and I felt the thread was a little too obvious. If I used the trick of disguising the thread path with smaller beads, I ended up with a line of beads around each DiamonDuo and I felt the look of the flower lost impact. So, I actually created a bead embroidery design just to show my DiamonDuo flowers! While I was at it, I added in some Kheops beads for effect and took a cubist theme for the design as it seemed to flow well from the natural geometry of the beads. For this and other beading patterns using DiamonDuo beads, check out the section below.
If you are just starting out with DiamonDuo beads, this earring pattern is a good way in. It shows off the beads and the whole project can be made with just one pack. The design also uses simple thread paths, so although you will be combining the DiamonDuo beads with size 15 seed beads, it is still a quick and easy project for which you do not need too much experience. Find the pattern here.
For this bracelet pattern, I used the DiamonDuos as an accent in combination with AVA beads. In another experiment of laying beads on my mat, I had been creating diamond shapes with the AVA beads and then wondered if the DiamonDuo beads would fit in the centre. Happily, they did. It required a little translation to turn this laid out pattern into something with useable thread paths, but as I did so, I also used the DiamonDuo beads to create a custom clasp. You can download the pattern here.
You saw a snippet of the Cubist bead embroidery project, in detail, above, well this is how the full cuff bracelet turned out. The DiamonDuos are a crucial part of the design and provide a lovely contrast with the area around. If you like this idea, you can find the complete tutorial here.
In another bead embroidery idea, I mixed the DiamonDuos with AVA beads to create a real diamond inspired project. Like the other projects, I found that I needed the flexibility of bead embroidery to make sure the beads would sit in the right spot. This is a fairly quick project to make and a lovely way to try a little bead embroidery or get to know these beads. Find the pattern here.