- Materials for Beadie Critters
- Hooks, Keyrings, Etc.
- Cord, Lacing, etc.
- Organizing All That Stuff!
These come in several sizes. I have attempted to size these pictures so they show the approximate size of the beads on my screen, which is set at 1024 X 768 pixels.
Lily has a very nice FYI Page where she shows her Barbies done in the various sizes of beads, and shows the spools of plastic lacing as well. She also describes how she organizes her supplies and how she designs her creations. Also some basic instructions, with photos, on how to make beadie fashion dolls and how to do appendages.
- Regular Pony Beads. 6x9mm.
This was originally the only size of pony beads.
These come in many colors. Opaque beads are shown at left. Translucent beads are see-through. They give a nice look that is different, and in fact there are kits on the market now called "Crystal Critters" that are just the usual patterns done with translucent beads. Another line of colors is called "Pearl" or "Perle" finish. These have a satin-y sheen to them and can make a plain ordinary critter look really special. There are also Glitter colors--silver, gold, and several other colors. Aurora Borealis-finish beads have kind of a rainbow effect in their finish. And Metallic Wash finishes in Silver, Gold, and Copper are the most expensive type of pony bead, but are nice for doing projects like the Birthstone Beadies (in one of the books from Suzanne McNeill) or for things like belt buckles or collar dangles on certain beadie critters. Sun Beads change color in the sun.
- Wee Pony Beads. 4x7mm. Wee pony beads come in just about all the colors and finishes that regular-size pony beads do. Bolek's just started carrying the wee pony beads in the same 70 colors that they offer their regular pony beads in.
- Faceted Beads. Bolek's carries a line of Faceted Pony Beads that you can use just like regular-size pony beads. You can also use the regular faceted beads you find at the craft store, with wire. This is another way to get a totally different look. I especially like the faceted pony beads for Christmas projects--they have a little sparkle!
- Micro Pony Beads 5X3mm. I don't have a picture of these yet. I have seen opaque and translucent color assortments of these beads.
- E-beads. One step larger than seed beads. Lots of different colors and finishes. This would be a good choice to make a beadie critter pin to pin on a sweater or shirt.
- Seed beads. Tiny little things. You can make beadie critter earrings using these beads.
Any of the three smallest sizes can be used for Girl Scout SWAPs.
Hooks, keyrings, etc.
Most projects can be done on a lanyard hook or keyring so that you can hang it on your backpack. I usually do my projects on a lanyard hook, then hook several of them onto one split keyring.
Here's a picture of a lanyard hook:
New Idea, great for recycling: You can use a pop tab instead of a lanyard hook. These pop tabs can still be slipped onto a keyring. Submitted by Angie Spicer.
Cord, String, Plastic Lacing, etc.
There are all kinds of cords or strings or whatever that can be used.
- Double-Faced Satin Ribbon--This is one of the cheapest options, at about 5 cents a yard on the 10-yard spools. If you are using regular size pony beads, use either 1/4 or 1/8-inch ribbon. For wee pony beads, use 1/8 or 1/16-inch ribbon (the 1/16-inch is harder to find, but Bolek's Craft Supplys carries it in 50-yard spools).
- Plastic Lacing--Another inexpensive option. I can get plastic lacing at my local craft store for 10 cents a yard, or buy a whole spool of 100 yards for $2.49-2.99. This is for the flat type of plastic lacing. There are also other types of plastic lacing, such as round (commonly called Noooodles or S'getti String). Projects made with plastic lacing have a tendency to curl, but you can "fix" your project by dipping the finished project briefly in boiling water, then laying it out and arranging it the way you want it as it cools. I have discovered that the clear plastic lacing is perfect to use with the wee pony beads. Two strands of plastic lacing fit through the holes of the beads very snugly. I made a 21-bead wide pattern that didn't sag or curl, when I used the wee pony beads.
- Nylon Cord--I like the kind put out by Enterprise Art. It is a black nylon cord with white cotton string inside. They also make a white cord. Their cord is rather stiff, perfect for projects such as 3-D Sports balls or other projects that need a stiffer cord. I burn the ends to keep them from fraying, but you could also dip the ends in glue and wait for them to dry.
- Plastic Canvas Cord--The Metallic cords by Darice are also a nice stiff cord. The gold and silver metallic cords are good for Christmas projects. Their other plastic canvas cords are softer, but still nice.
- Rattail--available in 1- and 2-mm sizes. Use the 2-mm for regular size pony beads, the 1-mm for wee pony beads. I haven't used rattail very much but it's nice.
- Wire--28-gauge is best. Use for any size pony beads, e-beads and seed beads. When you use the wire you can "pose" your critters, and there's even a whole book about making 3-D critters using regular-size pony beads and wire, then bending the beads around to form the body and legs of the critters.
- Coated Wire--The newest thing. I just got some but haven't tried it yet. Looks like it can be used for regular-size and wee pony beads.
- IMPORTANT: If you use wire of any kind for your pony bead critters, keep them out of the reach of small children. They could poke themselves on the wire.
- Other Materials: Hemp cord is used for the bracelet patterns and a few other projects. You could also use curling ribbon for the regular-size pony beads. Another possibility is yarn, but you would have to glue an inch or two of the ends to get enough stiffness to slide the yarn through the rows of beads. For the E-beads or seed beads, you could use thread, dental floss, or embroidery floss and a needle.
- Try different kinds of cords and see what your favorite is!
Now that you've become a beadie fanatic, where do you put all the beads that you keep collecting? Here are some ideas:
- Embroidery Floss Organizers: These are perfect if you're buying the small sizes of bead packages. There are 17 divisions--16 small and 1 large. I have several of these. These are so convenient when you go to make a beadie critter--usually you have enough colors in one organizer that all the colors you need for a particular project are easily accessible in that container. This is good for kids, too. You could also use other multi-compartment organizers, such as hardware organizers or fishing tackle boxes.
- Frosting Containers or other small plastic containers: Once you start buying beads in the "ValuPaks" of 720 or from Bolek's in bags of 1,000, you'll need something bigger to hold the beads. If you have a large collection of containers such as frosting tubs, you can use those. Others have suggested Kool-aid or Capri Sun containers, or inexpensive clear plastic or glass jars. Label the lid with the color, or glue one of the beads on the lid, so you can tell what you've got.
- The Ziploc Bag/4-drawer Tower System: I've got so many beads now I ran out of frosting tubs. I started putting them into quart-size Ziploc bags. Then I bought a 4-drawer Rubbermaid storage tower thingie. If you lay the Ziploc bags of beads so they are flat, you can fit the bags two across, two deep, and 5 or 6 high. The top drawer holds ribbon and cord, keyrings, lanyard hooks, etc. The second drawer has all the opaque regular pony beads. Third drawer, perle finish and transparent pony beads. 4th drawer, faceted pony beads and wee pony beads. This works out pretty well for me. I had to buy another 4-drawer tower and fit it on top of the other one, to fit in all the new sizes of beads. The tower sits in my bedroom and that's where I make beadie critters.