Color isn't everything.
The dual aspects of color and surface finish make beads fascinating and challenging to use. However, the same color bead can appear totally different depending on its type of glass and surface finish (or lack thereof).
Advancing & Receding Colors
As a rule, opaque colors and shiny surface finishes (metallic, luster, and iridescent) appear to come forward in a design. Transparent and greasy colors and matte surface finishes tend to recede. Therefore, transparent and greasy colors and matte surfaces are best for shadows and backgrounds. Opaque glass and luster, metallic and iridescent surface finishes are best for highlights and design areas you wish to accentuate. Before you begin a big project, peyote up a small sample to make sure you like the way your beads look together
The 7th digit, (2·11·246·10) of BEADCATS stock#s represents Glass Type. (1= Opaque, in the example) The Glass Type # at the end of each definition below is the number BEADCATS uses for that particular Glass Type in our stock#s
See Seed bead Stock# diagram or PressedGlass bead Stock# diagram for a complete discussion of stock numbers. If you're a designer this can be a powerful tool.
TRANSPARENT glass TRANSMITS light, so you can see into or through the beads. Transparent beads are a little more "sparkly" or lively than opaque beads but they tend to recede visually. Abbreviated TRANS; glass type 0.
OPAQUE glass transmits no light. You can't see the thread inside opaque beads. Opaque colors come forward visually. Abbreviated OP; glass type 1.
GREASY glass transmits light but you can't see through it. Greasy beads have depth and richness. Greasy colors recede visually in comparison to opaque colors but come forward when used with transparents. Glass type 2.
OPAL glass transmits light but is murky, milky or translucent. Good opal glass has a glow to it, a little like opal gemstone. Greasy glass is a actually a dense opal glass. Visually opal glass behaves like greasy glass but with a subtle sparkle like a transparent. Glass type 3.
SATIN glass has a striated, layered or satin-like appearance. The apparent color shade of satin glass VARIES with your viewing angle. Satin beads come forward in a design because of their variable reflectivity. Glass type 4.
WHITEHEARTS have an inner core of white glass. Among the most sought-after beads today because of the quiet intensity of their color, they were originally a cheap way to make colored beads! Rare original colors included true lavenders and purples. Common colors today are rose, red and turquoise. Visually they behave like greasy beads. Glass type 6.
SILVER-LINED beads have a mirror-like reflective lining. Any transparent or opal color, including those we call dyed, may be silver-lined to give them brilliance (they're like a rhinestone with a hole in the center). Usually the hole is square, to enhance the reflective effect, but not always. You may hear the term rocaille used loosely to describe any seed bead. However, we reserve it for square-holed silver-lined beads. To avoid confusion we don't use the term rocaille in our catalog . Silver-lined beads really stand out from other beads. Abbreviated S/L, glass type 7.
GOLD-LINED beads are transparent colorless beads lined with genuine gold. There is nothing else like them. Occasionally we find old ones. The Japanese are producing some beads they call "gilt-lined", but the "gold" lining looks silver to me. Gold-lined beads stand out warmly in a design. AbbreviatedG/L, glass type 8.
COLOR-LINED beads have a separate, opaque color inside the hole of a transparent bead. Because the color is within the hole, these beads are more durable than surface painted beads. However, don't expose pinks, reds and purples to direct sun light. They may fade. Color-lined beads stand out subtly when used. The opaque colored center appears surrounded by a halo of light, which is the transparent glass of the bead wall. AbbreviatedC/L, glass type 9.
The Japanese are making excellent color-lined beads. Permanence totally depends on the way you use these beads. Test with bleach, acetone, or dry-cleaning if you're worried.
The 8th digit, (2·11·246·01) of BEADCATS stock#s represents Surface Finish. (1= Iridescent, in the example) The Finish Type # at the end of each definition below is the number BEADCATS uses for that particular Surface Finish in our stock#s
See Seed bead Stock# diagram or PressedGlass bead Stock# diagram for a complete discussion of stock numbers. If you're a designer, this can be a powerful tool.
IRIDESCENT also called iris, oil slick, AB [Aurora Borealis], scarabee, rainbow): Each of these terms refers to the same thing: the permanent "rainbow" finish which is applied while the bead is hot. An irid finish can totally change the original color of the bead. Iridescent beads blend subtly. The rainbow finish sets the beads off and makes them come forward visually. Abbreviated IRID, or AB; finish type 1.
LUSTER is a uniform, shiny finish on the surface of a transparent, translucent or opaque bead. Luster may be white, colored or even gold. Pearl is often used to describe opaque lustered beads, ceylon to describe a translucent lustered bead. Luster beads also blend smoothly. When used with plain beads, luster beads really come forward visually. Abbreviated LUST, finish type 2.
MATTE beads have a velvety, "frosted" surface, rather than a shiny or reflective surface. This is a relatively new thing which the Japanese are pioneering, and the resulting beads are wonderful. All matte beads recede visually next to any shiny bead. Matte colors are rich like greasy glass. Abbreviated MAT, finish type 3.
You can matte beads yourself using Dip'n Etch, which we sell. This liquid is not as dangerous as other glass etching compounds. Etching luster, irid or metallic beads will remove their surface finishes.
MATTE IRIDESCENT beads are iridescent AND matte, (not shiny). For a real contrast use a matte irid bead with a shiny irid bead. Matte irid beads look like raku pottery. Abbreviated MAT IRID, finish type 6.
MATTE METALLIC beads are metallic AND have a matte or semi-gloss matte finish (not shiny). Occasionally this semi-gloss finish is used on a non-metallic color such as black. They may not be permanent. Use a matte metallic bead with a shiny metallic in the same color for a subtle background texture. Abbreviated MAT MET, finish type 7.
METALLIC beads are normal glass beads with a shiny metal-like surface coating. The finish may be applied as a baked-on paint or electroplated onto nickel iridized beads (like our gold plated beads). Electroplated beads are permanent although over time the thin gold coating may wear away. THE PERMANENCE OF NON-IRID, METALLIC FINISHES IS ALWAYS QUESTIONABLE. Test a few beads with chlorine bleach, alcohol, or acetone.
To protect these beads, wash your hands frequently with a neutral PH soap and/or keep your hands well dusted with talc. Handle the beads as little as possible. 3 or 4 coats of an artists' fixative will prolong their life. Red, pink and purple metallic colors may fade with extended exposure to sunlight.
The only other beads equal to metallic beads visually are metallic irid beads. All other glass types and surface finishes will recede in comparison to metallic beads, because they're not only opaque but also very shiny. Abbreviated MET, finish type 4. Also called galvanized.
METALLIC IRIDESCENT beads are iridescent AND metallic. The bead may be a metallic color such as gold, bronze or silver with an iridescent finish. Or, the bead may be an opaque color such as blue, green, purple or black, with such a heavy iridescent finish that it appears metallic. These metallic finishes are permanent, as opposed to the plain metallic, which may not be. These beads blend well, and come forward visually compared to beads without any surface finish. Abbreviated MET IRID, or MET AB finish type 8.
PAINTED or DYED colors like bright purple and fuchsia are achieved with surface colorants which are applied after the bead is made, generally with heat and solvents.
Transparent beads are labeled "dyed"; opaque beads are labeled "painted". Always test and handle as you would metallic beads, and keep the red/violet/pink ones out of sunlight. In my tests the modern dyed/painted beads are very durable, much more so than the metallic beads.The painted/dyed beads behave like normal opaque, greasy and transparent beads but the colors tend to be BRIGHTER and therefore stand out more. You may want to consider what your design will look like if the color does fade or bleach entirely. finish type 9.
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