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Beading Equipment

Delica Beads

All patterns on ThreadABead.com use size 11 delica beads. Delica beads have been around since the 1980s and are known for their precision and huge variety of colours and finishes.

ThreadABead particularly specializes in the Size 11 version of the delica. There are several sizes of delica besides the size 11. Size 15 which is smaller and size 10 and 8 which are larger.

Size 11 beads are the most common size of delica which are available at the majority of beading stores. Weighing just 0.005g per bead with an outer diameter of 1.6mm and a hole diameter of 0.8mm they are quite small. Depending on the finish of the bead you can typically expect around 200 beads per gram.

Weight Approx. Beads
1kg 200,000
100g 20,000
50g 10,000
25g 5,000
7.2g Tube 1,440
5g 1,000

What is so special about Delica beads?

That is a great question. delica are a type of seed bead but are much more expensive than normal seed beads – so why do we use delica and not seed beads?

Seed beads, like delica, you can get in a huge variety of sizes but what really sets delica apart is the uniformity of the bead. Typically with seed beads you will find the size of the beads will vary. With delica, almost all beads will be the same shape and size (you will occasionally get a few rogue ones you need to discard).

Another reason that delica are different is in their shape. If you look close, they are a tube shape. We call beads like this cylinder beads, as opposed to seed beads that have a more rounded, even donut shape. This cylinder shape means when stitched together the beads fit neatly with little gap. Much like building blocks, it means you can create a huge range of structures and images within the beads that don't always work with the more rounded shape of seed beads.

Why do I need beads that have uniform size?

For many types of beadwork a uniform size is not needed or perhaps even desirable. However for the type of bead weaving ThreadABead does, where we create 3D shapes, the uniformity means we can create much sharper, neater and more predictable beadwork.

You might be thinking why can't I just use seed beads, they are cheaper. Depending on the project you might be able to, however it is not always guaranteed and there will be slight differences in the shapes you are creating, giving a distorted look - it may also look a little wonky due to any irregularities in the beads.

For a beader like me, who cannot stand for a bead to be out of place, the delica bead produces beadwork that forms straight and neat rows and columns of beads which really appeals to my style of beading.

How many of colours of delica are there?

At last count there are almost 1250 different combinations of colours and finishes of beads to choose from and ThreadABead stocks them all! That may seem like a lot, but as a designer I am constantly faced with colours that are just not available. I wish there were many more!

You may think to yourself do you need to buy all the colours and finishes. Absolutely not! Some of the colours are very similar and you can interchange one colour with another. ThreadABead has perhaps only 100 colours that we use within our own designs.

If you are new to beading, I highly recommend buying just the colours you need for a design. We sell component packs containing all the delicas needed for a project, which is very cost effective for beginners. We always put in plenty of spares so you will have beads left over which you can reuse in your next projects.

What do you mean by finishes?

Sometimes you will find there are many beads that are the same colour, but have a different finish on them. By a finish we are referring to the final coating of the bead, i.e. the feel of it.

Take a look at the example below. This one beautiful bead colour features multiple times in the delica range, with just different finishes:

Example of same colour bead, different finish
DB 1587 DB 1137 DB 1596 DB 1568 DB 1577
Matt Opaque Opaque Matt Opaque AB Luster Opaque AB

When you look up a delica colour on ThreadABead.com, we show you all similar colours to the colour you have chosen. This is great if you don’t have that colour or are looking for alternatives, but do pay attention to the finish.

As a designer, I will choose the colour and finish of a bead I am using carefully. Sometimes I find a similar colour can really pop against another colour if the finish is contrasting. Other times it makes little difference. See our tip on choosing colours, Tip: Choosing Delica Colours

Here are the some of the different finishes you can find, they can be combined with other finishes too.

Types of Delica Finish

Finish Decription Example
Transparent A colour you can see through. This is great to use in designs where you want light to shine through, but care must be taken on thread selection which will be visible.
Opaque A colour that is solid and you cannot see through. I love this type of bead and the solid bright colours you can get. It is perhaps the easy, most predictable finish to use.
Matt A finish that gives a dull, flat look that is not shiny. These beads can be slightly prone to breakage, but not so much that I wouldn't recommend to use them.
Silver Lined A transparent bead where the hole is lined with a silver coating. This gives the beads a sparkle, but care must be taken to not rub off the silver coating when beading.
AB AB stands for Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), this effect gives a rainbow sheen to the beads.
Luster Gives the appearance of a soft, smooth but shiny glaze to the bead.
Metallic This gives the beads a look resembling a metal appearance.
Ceylon Very similar to luster, a pearlised finish.
Inside Colour Again this is a transparent bead but where the hole is lined with an alternative colour. I find this gives the outer colour a depth and warmth and is one of my favourite finishes.
Dyed Some bead colours are hard to create within the glass, so occasionally is it necessary to dye them to get a colour (fun fact, true pink glass is usally the most expensive glass you can get). Be wary of dyed colours, they may no be as colourfast as other finishes.
Galvanised A style of plating to the surface of the bead, giving a metal apperance.
Duracoat A more durable coating which is less likely to wear off. If beadwork is to be worn against the skin it is usually best to use a duracoat bead.
Silk/Satin This gives a silken texture to the beads. It is a beautiful bead but use with caution, they are brittle and can cut your thread. They are best used in flat work that does not need to be flexible.
Plated A style of plating to the surface of the bead.

Durability

If you notice on some of the bead finishes we talk about their durability. Depending on the finish or colour you will find that there may be issues in use.

Some beads are not as colourfast as others, the colour may fade or rub off. Thought should be given about what you are intending the beads to be used for and if the colour you are using will stand up to wear. This is especially important if the beadwork is to be worn against the skin which is quite a harsh environment for a bead.

So how do you know this before you buy, it's easy! We have created a traffic light system to show you if there are any problems with a colour, see an example here: Example Bead Page. Remember, just because there may be an issue in use does not mean you can't use it in your design, for instance this colour example used in an ornament or earring will hold up very well. You can even use it in a bracelet, but if the item is for sale or used by someone who is prone to a high acidity in their skin, a Duracoat version of the bead may be more appropriate.

I should probably mention that care should still be taken when handling beads, even the most durable beads should be looked after. Check out our tip for looking after beadwork here: Tip: Looking after finished beadwork

DB 1338 Dyed Silver Lined Rose (7.2g) Tube Miyuki Delica Size 11
$6.30
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DB 2053 Mermaid Green (50g) Miyuki Delica Luminous Size 11
$28.55
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DB 0160 Opaque Yellow AB (7.2g) Tube Miyuki Delica Size 11
$4.96
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DB 0410 Galvanised Yellow Gold (7.2g Tube) Miyuki Delica Size 11
$8.92
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DB 0758 Matte Opaque Lilac (7.2g Tube) Miyuki Delica Size 11
$4.37
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DB 1242 Dark Cranberry AB (7.2g Tube) Miyuki Delica Size 11
$4.59
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DB 1587 Matte Opaque Agate Blue (7.2g) Tube Miyuki Delica Size 11
$5.05
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DB 1868 Dyed Lilac AB (7.2g Tube) Miyuki Delica Size 11 Silk Inside
$6.12
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DB 2033 Luminous Creamsicle (7.2g Tube) Miyuki Delica Size 11
$4.46
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