What are O Beads?
I first became aware of O beads in 2013. They look fascinating – like little round flat discs – and they first appeared on the beading scene alongside a number of other new shapes of seed beads. O beads were designed by the wonderful beadwork designer, Sabine Lippert and are manufactured exclusively by All Beads CZ. These little round discs are approximately 1mm deep and about 3.8mm in diameter with a hole measuring about 1.3mm. They are available in a wide range of colours and they provide some fascinating design potential, as you will see.
Designing with O beads
As I write this post, I am still working on O bead designs. I like to explore the different design possibilities of a new bead, thinking about how it might be combined with other beads and which beading techniques it suits. I love the look of O beads, but initially I found designing with them a little challenging. They are perfect for creating little ‘frames‘ on either side of crystals or pearls, so that is where I started. The ‘O My! Bracelet’ pattern was one of my first designs with these beads. I loved the way they highlighted the pearls, but I also felt it was a slight shame that the true colouring and depth of the O beads felt a bit lost as I looked at them sideways on.
So, I tried another experiment: they can be used as a layer of embellishment on the top of a piece of beadwork and held in place by a single size 11 Delica or size 15 seed bead, so the circular shape and depth of colour is really shown to great advantage. I incorporated this idea into my Poppy bracelet design, which originated with my Battle of the Beadsmith piece for 2014.
O beads feature again in my Battle of the Beadsmith 2015 work. I wanted to explore their potential when used alone as a feature bead to create texture. I also discovered that the size of their hole means they can be combined across two rows of beadwork, giving the flexibility to use them as linking components in a similar manner to twin-hole or Superduo beads.
This discovery has led to me using them to great effect in several more patterns. Their narrow size means that they are very handy for creating circular shapes, as they can be used to gradually expand the shape row by row. I used both this linking and expanding technique in my Kheops Focal Necklace.
O Beads are great for bead embroidery and just perfect for stab stitch. I ended up using their slightly larger counterpart, wheel beads, for this cuff. However, the O beads would work just as well, so this is a great project to try. You can find the pattern here.