What to Think About When Choosing your Bead Finish

This topic is talked about constantly. When shopping for beads we have been gifted with literally thousands or choices it can make our heads spin when we have to make a selection.

We spend hours designing and creating our finished pieces and we all want our finished projects to look as stunning as they did the day we made it years later. How long your beaded item will last depends on a few factors. 

When selecting the beads you use for your project you want to consider what finish your beads have on them and what your making. Some finishes are better suited for certain projects then others. There are a couple of things to consider when selecting your beads besides just the color. 

What are you making? How often will it be handled or worn? Is it for a special occasion or holiday or an every day item?

Since each bead finish has it's own durability rating what you are making is a good question to ask yourself. If your making a bracelet that is going to be touching a persons wrist the oils in our skin and the things we come in contact with can rub away the color or finish of your beads. In some cases this happens rather quickly.

Below is a picture of a bracelet made with Delica beads in matte black and copper plated beads. I put this on my wrist and lived with it for a week. As you can see the copper is almost complete rubbed off of the band and is starting to come off the brick stitched centerpiece. The matte black is exactly as day one. 

Black and copper brick stitch bracelet showing copper plating rubbed off after wear

Since this was for a test I didn't take it off when I washed my hands or showered and it shows. So when gifting or selling your beaded items you want to tell the person how to care for it. Such as remove before showering or avoid wearing while doing physical activity or on hot days where we are likely to sweat. 

That doesn't mean that I can't use these copper  beads for anything it just means I have to be a little choosy about when and where I used them. If I had made say a necklace or earrings it wouldn't rub against my skin as much. These beads would also work well if you were making a non jewelry item such as a beaded ornament tapestry or vessel.  

Nothing is more disheartening then spending hours on a project to only have it fade away.  

If you are really in love with a color that isn't as durable as you would like for the project you intend there are a few ways to work around it. 

Products are now available to "Seal" your beadwork. I've seen artist use clear nail polish acrylic clear spray paint, two part resin epoxy, uv resin and even Floor polish to stiffen and seal beadwork. 

Clear nail polish applied in thin layers to stiffen and protect beadwork. Some good options would be Sally Hansen's hard as nails or a clear gel polish. 

Clear floor polish or sealer can be used to coat beads as well. Again apply it in thin layers. I have been told than over time some brands may turn yellow. 

ProtectaClear -  Used in the Jewelry industry as a protective coating for metal. Recommended by Jill Wiseman, see her video at YouTube.com.

Resin - There are so many different types and brands of resin available now since it's become such a popular hobby. In general they fall into two categories: 2 part Epoxy and UV resin. Both come in many brands and types so you may have to see what works best for you. 

I recommend testing it on a sample piece before going to town on you project. Some bead finishes may have an unwanted chemical reaction.

Stay tuned to learn more about they types of bead finishes and their durability rating.


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