Friday, May 27, 2016

Seedbead Sizes - Debunking the myth

"Hi - I'd like some seedbeads that are larger that these 11s? How much bigger are the 13s?"

If that sentence made you giggle - then congratulations! You have the seedbead sizing thing figured out. No doubt about it - seedbead sizes are confusing because  - like wire gauges - they run backwards to your intuition. Bigger numbers mean smaller beads!

So not too long ago, I overheard someone authoritatively telling their friend that "Size 6s are called that because there are 6 in an inch."

Whoa - really?

Wouldn't that be nice? Damn - that would be so nice and simple. But no - I know that there are more than 6 6/0s in an inch.

But then, darn it, I heard it again, from another source. Wait a minute - now this piece of mis-information is developing traction.

So - giving it the benefit of the doubt - I thought - let's just check this out.

I grabbed a bunch of seedbeads from the store and started measuring and counting. I locked my calipers on "1.000 inch" - and let me tell you - manipulating them to be 1 inch to 3 decimal places of accuracy was no mean feat either!

The colours I chose were selected for their ability to show up in a photo and be easy to see. The Czech seedbeads have a natural randomness to them that is part of their organic and natural appeal - and I made no attempt to "weed" them out for better or worse beads.

I set the beads up against the pre-set caliper, and shot them up close so that we can count them together. I freely admit that this would have been more scientific if I had measured multiple samples and multiple colours. But I do think that these sample are fairly representative.

Ready? Let's go.


First up - Size 13/0s. 13/0s are considered small - even by die-hard beaders.

25 size 13/0s in an inch.










Next up - size 12/0s. Just for fun. We only have 2 colours of 12/0s. 12/0s are an unusual size and you don't see them often.



 22 size 12/0s in an inch. 3 less than the size 13s.

All right now - let's get serious. Size 11/0s - flat out the most popular size.


20 size 11/0s in an inch. 2 less than the 12/0s. You can see that I didn't get the beads at the start lined up with the beginning of the inch, so I counted the first full bead, and took the last half bead as a full bead to compensate.

Size 10/0s, very nearly as popular as the 11/0s.


17 size 10/0s to the inch.

Next up - the size 8/0s. Our 8/0s don't come strung, so I had to string a few. I put them on wire for easy of stringing.



13 size 8/0s to the inch. Again - not a perfect match to the start of the inch, so I counted the end half as a whole bead.


Next up, last one - size 6/0s. After working with 11/0s, 6/0s seem enormous, and can handily be used as spacers in bead stringing projects and other styles of beading other than bead weaving and traditional seed beading - where the object seems to be to use progressively smaller and smaller beads as you become more proficient, or go blind - which ever comes first. ;-)



10 size 6/0s in an inch. Again - the alignment thing. You get it.

So - totally debunked. There are NOT 6 size 6s in an inch, or 11 11/0s in an inch, etc. 

But wait, as I went to clean up, the size 6/0s, without their wire support, fell over onto their sides - where they are much wider.

Seriously? Could it be that there are 6 size 6/0s to an inch if you measure them on their sides? Who would do that? You don't use them that way - how would that be at all helpful?


Better measure them to check.


Almost. 6 and a half size 6/0s in an inch. Benefit of the doubt - it could be said that there are 6 6/0s in an inch. Although not in any orientation that you might use them in, unless you were embroidering them or doing some sort of funky miniature 2-needle ladder stitch.



Guess we'd better go back and check the 8/0s in this orientation too. Just in case.


Whaddya know? Eight size 8/0s in an inch. Let's keep going.




Size 11/0s. Let's try those. Our 11/0s are sold on strands, but we do have mixes that are loose in vials. So they are not all the same colour - but they are the same size. Or given the variation in size - that same size family. ;-)


Ah - it falls apart. 12 size 11/0s to the inch.

Last one. For real. Size 13/0s. And let me tell you - lining up an inch of size 13/0 seedbeads on their sides in a straight line is heroic task of dexterity too.  There's a reason why seedbeads aren't my particular cup of tea.


16 size 13/0s - on their side. Well - that theory fell apart.

So - the size 6/0s are 6 to the inch - yes - if you measure them on their side in a way that you would never use them. Not too helpful. Is it relevant to the way that they are named? Size 8/0s fit the pattern, but not 11/0s and 13/0s.

To re-cap


Size beads per inch
13 25
12 22
11 20
10 17
8 13
6 10

So there you have it folks. The number of the bead size has no particular relevance to the number of beads in an inch. Converting the numbers to beads per cm doesn't make it any better.


Size beads per cm
13 10
12 9
11 8
10 7
8 5
6 4

Now you know!

Go forth and bead happy!

1 comment:

silverdawn said...

Love this. The effort itself is priceless!