How I Discovered Delica Beads

About 5 years ago, I began my transition from amateur to professional beader. I was selling loomed bracelets and amulets that I designed myself, and I was expanding my stitch repertoire. I knew brick stitch from making tons of Native American style earrings, and was struggling with starting peyote. I was completely self taught at this point.

I decided to go for a bigger project in the spring semester of senior year of college. Experienced beaders everywhere will gasp: I started making the front side of an amulet bag with size 11 Czech beads in brick stitch. I know, what was I thinking! For the beginners, here is why that’s ridiculous:

  1. You can use tubular peyote to create the front and back sides of an amulet bag at the same time, then just sew up the bottom and add fringe. It is much easier.
  2. Czech beads are just not the best quality beads. They are useful to achieve a rustic look, for fringe, and bead embroidery. This project needed some uniform beads.
  3. Brick stitch requires two stitches per bead, so it takes twice as long. Brick stitch is very good for stacking beads, but peyote stitch is superior for this amulet bag project. (Both stitches give the same “look,” the brick pattern.)

I worked hours on this project, and got as far as you see pictured before stopping. The line across the top was no longer straight, so my Nepalese eyes weren’t lining up properly! This is because I was using beads that were all size 11, but not uniform. What now?

I found a bead forum online, searched for “uniform beads,” and came across Delicas, also called cylinder beads. All were the same size and shape across all colors, and thousands of 942 colors and finishes were available! To me this discovery was like discovering the New World!

How Delicas are different from other seed beads

  1. Seed beads have rounded edges and Delicas do not. With a flat edge, the hole in the Delica bead is larger and allows for multiple passes of needle and thread.
  2. Delicas are incredibly uniform, which means they fit together nicely when weaving with them to create perfect edges.
  3. All Delica beads are made in Japan, but there are actually three different companies that manufacture them; Miyuki, Toho, and Matsuno. Don’t confuse Delicas with round seed beads.

The ends and outs of brand differences is complex. Some people mix them, but I don’t. All of my Delicas are Muyuki, and I even have a spread sheet to keep them organized.

The following summer, I started on Reveille. She is the first lady of Aggieland, and the official mascot of Texas A&M. Reveille done with peyote stitch in 29 different colors of Delicas, and it took me over 60 hours to complete her. There’s quite a difference between that incomplete project and Reveille, and that is the power of Delicas!

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • avatar madebymegs May 10, 2010, 4:09 pm

    Holy cow Mandi…you are so great at doing this. The amount of time it takes you would take me a million times longer to actually complete something!

  • avatar Cathey Rimmer May 10, 2010, 4:13 pm

    Whoop!! Love your Reveille.

  • avatar Mandi Ainsworth May 10, 2010, 4:30 pm

    @Megs Well that was my first project like that, so the time maybe similar if you wanted to do a giant peyote project. I was thinking of posting a video tutorial for the butterfly peyote bracelet with ruffle trim. It might be good to start with 😉

    @Cathey Glad to have a comment from someone who “gets” it! : ) Gig ’em Aggies!

  • avatar Walden May 10, 2010, 5:54 pm

    Very nifty! I am very new to beading and enjoying hearing about the ins and outs of things advanced beaders have figured out. I am hoping to really trying a beading project this summer and will look into these beads. Thank you.

  • avatar Denise May 10, 2010, 6:29 pm

    I love using delicas for not only Peyote but also RAW and Herringbone stitches!

    Gig’em Aggies!

  • avatar Carol Dean Sharpe May 11, 2010, 11:25 am

    The discovery of delicas made a huge difference in my beading life as well. (By the way, I believe delicas are specifically the tradename for Miyuki’s cylinder beads. Toho has their own (two) lines of cylinder beads called Aiko and Treasure.)

  • avatar Mandi Ainsworth May 11, 2010, 11:57 am

    Carol, I believe you are right. :) I know the 3 used to be one family business and then split. Now there are a lot of confusing reports out there about quality, color matching, being able to use them interchangeably etc. NanC told me how awesome and perfect Aikos are (though a slightly smaller size 11), and now I want to build up a stash of those!

  • avatar Sparkle4soul May 12, 2010, 6:33 pm

    Thanks for the story… I love beads and I love dogs just as much! Both contribute to my well-being.

  • avatar Erin Simonetti May 25, 2010, 11:26 am

    Hi Mandi, I want to tell you that I am enjoying your change of venue. I visited the forum, from time to time, but this is so much more informative.

    There is one suggestion, I think should be mentioned. You stated in this particular posting the there are “thousands” of Delicas to choose. This really is not the case. Yesterday, I posted in my Blog, information regarding the number of Delica colors available, along with some information about other color lines. I thought this may be informative for you and your readers.

  • avatar Mandi Ainsworth May 25, 2010, 12:56 pm

    Thank you so much for your comment! I just assumed there were over a thousand b/c I love Delica Bead #1818: Transparent Inside Color Lined Dark Koala Grey Satin and I never bothered to have a closer look. Thanks for sharing your excellent post with us! Here is the direct link for future readers:

  • avatar Glenda January 30, 2011, 8:18 am

    Hi Mandi, I have been bead weaving for a couple of years now, and have moved on to Muyuki Delicas! Oh man, what a difference! I too want to do a major project using 25 colors. How in the world do you set your table up for so many colors??? This is my main problem other than scraping up the money to buy all those beads! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

  • avatar Mandi Ainsworth January 30, 2011, 10:06 am

    I will have a post about this up tomorrow! Thanks for your question, Glenda :)

  • avatar 夫妻情趣 August 7, 2015, 1:33 am

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