When are two-holed beads better than one?

Posted by Kerrie Slade
on Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Light and airy Twin Tubes Beaded Beads (Photo by Preciosa Ornela).

Matte dark purple Twin™ beads with their pink lined holes.

Twin Flower Lariat (Photo by Preciosa Ornela).

Two-holed beads are very popular right now and it seems that almost every week there’s another new bead shape on the market with not one but TWO holes. Of course that extra hole opens up a world of design possibilities for the beader: it can add new dimensions to favourite stitches, two holes can make it easier to change thread direction within a piece and it can also help add stability to beadwork.

When I first started working with Twin™ beads from Preciosa Ornela, I was stumped about what to do with that second hole, as up to that point I had only ever worked with single-holed seed beads, crystals and pearls. I stared at the spare hole bewilderedly as I wondered what on earth to do with it. Eventually I listened to a whispering voice in my head that seemed to ask, “Why do you need to do anything with it?” So I began beading with the Twins using my trusty brick stitch and acted as though each bead actually only had one hole.

As my brick stitch tube formed, I realised that the negative space gave my work a light airy feeling which seemed to lend itself perfectly to a series of beaded beads. Gradually I stopped stressing about my failure to use the other hole, instead regarding it as a design feature rather than a flaw.

Next I moved on to a narrow rope using the same stitch and as I got into the rhythmic zone that comes with repetitive beadwork, I began to think that those little holes looked like beady eyes that were crowding in to watch me as I wove. And when I switched to working with the matte dark purple Twins, I noticed the beautiful pink the holes were lined with and then I imagined them as enticing tunnels that drew the eye into the heart of the finished beadwork. Now I may be prone to fits of whimsy but if I had filled both of the available holes with thread, all of the above would have been lost to me.

I’m not suggesting that the second hole of a two-holed bead should never be used and as you can see in my Twin Flower Lariat in the current issue of Bead & Button, I made the sleek flowers and slider using both holes and then switched to using only one hole for the rope. If you really can’t bear the thought of an un-beaded hole there are plenty of one-hole beads on the market too (such as the Preciosa Solo™) but I would encourage you to give it a try and to sometimes let the holes speak for themselves.

Kerrie Slade is a beadwork designer living in Mansfield, England. She has been beading for more than 10 years and has had her work published in numerous books and magazines around the world. Kerrie has taught beadwork internationally and she now sells her patterns via her website.You can read more on her blog.

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