If you’re looking for more weird and wonderful seed bead shapes, then why not try Magatama beads? As with all the other seed beads, these are available in a range of colours. They also come in two lengths: standard and long.
The beads are elongated with a hole at one end. They are also shaped a little like a rhomboid. The hole sits parallel to the end, so you will find that as you are passing your needle through, you are moving at an angle, making the beads sit in place at an angle. This is something to bear in mind as you use these beads. You can choose to add each bead at the same angle, or to alternate or mix the angle, depending on the effect you want to create.
I have found that Magatama beads mix well with size 8 seed beads, so you can use them together to deliberately create texture in a pattern, as I did with this bracelet. The Magatama beads make the petals stand proud of the main tube, creating interest. The pattern can be found here.
I have also used Magatama beads to create palm tree fronds – something about their shape when stitched with herringbone reminded me of the tree fronds and so my design grew!
If bead-weaving isn’t your thing, then I have found that Magatama beads give some really interesting effects when used with Kumihimo techniques. As with the bangle pattern above, they create a lovely textured feel to your work.
Just a small word of warning: in teaching my projects, I have found that a lot of students struggle to use Magatama beads unless they are reasonably experienced. I am not recommending that you avoid these beads, but if you are learning a new technique, then make sure you master the thread path with seed beads that feel comfortable to you before trying the project with Magatama beads. Also take care as you work: the shape of the Magatama beads makes it easier to catch threads around them, so just watch out! Most of all though, have some fun and play with these shaped beads.