After graduating from Seed Beads 101, where you gained a basic understanding of these tiny little beauties, you’re now ready for Seed Beads 201. Welcome! This lesson will teach you all about the two leading names in Japanese Seed Beads—Miyuki and TOHO. As you well know, selecting quality seed beads can mean the difference between professional designs and unsuccessful projects. Japanese seed beads are known for having consistent size and finish, compared to Czech seed beads. Japanese seed beads tend to have larger hole sizes than Czech beads of the same size as well. This uniformity is what makes Japanese seed beads popular with jewelry designers, even today. Let’s delve a little deeper into Miyuki and TOHO individually.
Miyuki started out as a dream, about 60 years ago, when its founder Seiichi Katsuoka discovered the beauty of glass seed beads. His fascination became a passion when, in 1949, he dedicated his time to learning how to produce these beads. Quality was the most important factor when making Miyuki beads, and this still rings true today. Through the generations, each company president has continued to search for innovative ways to produce new types and styles. Miyuki has become one of the most successful seed bead companies by holding on to the founder’s origin al intention, and has set the standard for others.
There are various different types of Miyuki seed beads, but the most common are Delicas, Tila, Square and Hexagon. Delicas are high-quality beads shapes like cylinders with consistent size and shape, offered in numerous colors and finishes. Tila beads are flat beads with angled corners and two stringing holes. These are ideal for more intricate projects, like multistranded jewelry or bead weaving. These should be handled with care to avoid chipping because of their sharp angles. Square and Hexagon are basic cuts that are shaped as their name implies.
TOHO seed beads are also world renowned for their consistency in size, shape and color. Established in 1951, TOHO has always strived to improve its techniques in designing and creating new beads. In English, “TOHO” actually means “Eastern Treasure,” which is exactly what these lovely little beads are! TOHO prides itself on earning the respect of designers around the world, and claims right as being the top maker of glass beads. When shopping for TOHOs, there are endless choices for size, shape and color.
Their tube-shaped Bugle beads make ideal spacers, and the teardrop shape of the Magatama beads give looks a cool asymmetrical finish. In fact, “Magatama” means “curved bead” in Japanese. Another cool collection from TOHO is their Hybrid seed beads. TOHO teamed up with Czech glass makers to produce some of the finest pieces. First, the TOHOs are created in the traditional Japanese style. Then, the beads are sent to the Czech Republic to receive the signature finish of Czech glass seed beads. The end result is a bead with consistent size and shape with a brilliant shine!
So, are you Team Miyuki or Team TOHO? Either way you’re sure to be impressed. Both brands will add value to your designs, whether you choose to use them in looming, weaving or jewelry making. Mix and match them both with some of your other favorite beads for unique results every time!
*Information Sourced from both TOHO and Miyuki company websites.