All About Cylinder Beads
Cylinder beads are precision-cut glass seed beads. They're shaped like short tubes (cylinders) and have large holes in relation to the thickness of their sides. The large holes accommodate multiple passes of needle and thread, and the uniform shape and size allow you to create smooth, flat, and even beaded fabric. Cylinder beads' smoothness and wide range of colors make them the best beads for stitching lifelike images, such as patterns made from photographs.
Cylinder beads produced by the Miyuki company are called Delica beads, and cylinder beads produced by Toho are called Toho Treasures. Toho also produces a line of specialty cylinder beads called Aiko beads. Aikos are cut with even greater precision than regular cylinder beads, making them perfect for the most intricate flat patterns.
Be aware that the Toho company sometimes licenses its beads to distributors. An example is the line of Toho Treasures distributed by Darice and sold through Michaels craft stores. These beads are the same as the Treasures sold directly by Toho wholesale, but their color names are different. That can make it difficult to select the correct colors when you work from a pattern that has a bead key referencing Toho color names.
The standard size for both Delicas and Toho Treasures is 11/0 (about 1.2mm to 1.8mm long). Aiko beads are slightly smaller.
Delicas are also available in the smaller size of 15/0 (about 1.0mm to 1.3mm long), and the larger sizes of 10/0 and 8/0 (about 2mm long and 2.5mm long, respectively).
Toho Treasures are also available in the larger 8/0 and 6/0 sizes (about 3.3mm long), although these can be hard to find.
Even though cylinder beads are cut with precision, their lengths can still vary slightly. Most batches also contain some misshapen beads. You still need to cull (identify and discard) inconsistent or unusable cylinder beads while you work.
Sizing is relatively consistent between Delicas and Toho Treasures, and most beaders have success mixing both brands in the same design. However, because Toho Aiko beads are slightly smaller than standard cylinder beads, they are not interchangeable with Toho Treasures or with Delicas.
Cylinder Bead Per Gram
Like most seed beads, cylinder beads are sold by weight. You can expect to receive the following number of beads when you purchase by gram:
- About 350 size 15/0 beads per gram
- About 200 size 11/0 beads per gram
- About 105 size 10/0 beads per gram
- About 33 size 8/0 beads per gram
Where to Purchase
Select local bead stores stock cylinder beads, but you can usually find the best selection online. Here are some sources that I've found to be reliable:
- Artbeads.com carries a decent selection of Delicas in sizes 15/0, 11/0, and 8/0.
- I buy lots of Delicas (and round seed beads) from Fox Den Designs.
- Land of Odds carries 15/0, 11/0, 10/0, and 8/0 Delicas.
- Shipwreck Beads carries some size 11/0 Toho Treasures.