Arcos beads are made by the same manufacturer as the Kheops. In this article, I am going to be talking about the Arcos alongside their design fellow: Minos beads. These are two distinct types of seed bead, but they were designed and produced in conjunction with one another to create a perfect pairing. As you read on down, you will discover how the Arcos beads work so well with Minos beads, but I do not mean to suggest that the two types of bead are inseparable. They are sold separately and there is no reason not to use them on their own in a project. However, as I am about to suggest, if you do use them together, you can get some really great design effects.
What are Arcos Beads?
The short answer to that question is Arcos beads are a three-holed, crescent shaped seed bead. As you will see from the photo above, the Arcos beads (the red ones!) have a distinctive hole placement. They are also fairly thick, so they have a beautifully substantial structure. Their partner bead, Minos beads are just small round beads with a single hole. The clever thing about them is that they have been manufactured so their dimensions fit exactly with the Arcos. If you stitch two Arcos together to form a circle pattern, the Minos will fit precisely in the centre. Similarly, the Minos fit neatly in the gap created by placing two Arcos circles next to one another. You can see a sample of this style of design in the bracelet photo here.
You may see the Arcos beads referred to as ‘Arcos Par Puca’ – this simply reflects their manufacturing origins. Similarly the Minos can be called ‘Minos Par Puca’. The Minos beads measure 2.5x3mm in size, so if you are only familiar with traditional seed beads, this is similar to a size 8 – only similar, mind, not the same! The Arcos beads measure about 5x10mm.
Designing with Arcos and Minos Beads
You know how I like to share some of my design explorations when I talk about a new bead – well the arcos beads are no exception. The first thing to appreciate is that, because of their size and shape, these beads make quite a statement in a design. As you saw above, the intuitive way to use them is to create circles. You can work with beads in the same colour so that the pattern focuses on texture, or you can use one colour of Arcos and different colour of Minos so you end up with a different effect. This could be reminiscent of flowers or simply of bold geometric designs.
Of course, there are many other ways in which the Arcos can be positioned, with or without the Minos. I found inspiration from the Art Deco style, where I found myself layering Arcos one upon the other to create a statement bracelet. The design ‘fun’ comes from working with the hole structure. You have three holes to link, so how many ways can you link them? The arcos beads integrate really well with other shaped seed beads and traditional rocailles. So, I think they are great for making a simple pattern statement within a more traditional beaded framework.
One other design benefit: due to the size, I have found that a few Arcos will go a long way. I mentioned ‘pattern statements’ and that is the reason they can be used sparsely. The texture and pattern they create does not have to be repeated in huge numbers to be effective. I found myself using up just a few leftover beads in a piece of bead embroidery, for example. If you are wondering why this seems important, the answer is simple: cost. It means you can buy just one pack and it will go a long way, so if you want to experiment for yourself, go ahead and indulge in that one pack and see what you can create.
Tips for Using Arcos Beads
Before you start, it is always handy to have a few tips to make life easier. At the risk of sounding like a broken record here, the two tips I would advise for working with arcos beads, are going to sound rather familiar! Firstly, check all three holes are unblocked before you use the bead. In most patterns, you will do a lot of work between adding the bead through the first hole and coming back to use the second and third holes, so finding a blockage later on can be very frustrating.
Tip number two: this may sound ridiculously obvious, but take care when you pick up the beads to make sure you enter from the correct side to ensure the Arcos end up sitting in the alignment that you want. Similarly, if you are passing through holes later on, make sure you pass through the correct hole – it can be very easy for your needle to slip through the wrong hole by accident!
Hopefully those two simple tips will help you on your journey of discovery. If you need more inspiration, then I have linked to some patterns using Arcos and Minos beads below.
Patterns and Tutorials
First up is the Morrocan Cuff bracelet that you saw at the top of the article. This is a really simple thread path to get to know your Arcos and Minos beads. It combines them with seed beads and honeycombs and I added a custom part-beaded clasp to complete the design. You can find the bracelet pattern here.
Second, if you enjoy bead embroidery, then I did actually create a tutorial for the bead embroidered necklace that I showed you above. You can find that tutorial here.
I also mentioned the Art Deco style which I celebrate in this bracelet, combining beaded sections with metal spacer frames. Again, the thread paths are beautifully simple and this gives you the opportunity to try the Arcos beads in a different arrangement. You can find the pattern here.
If you like a bit of sparkle, then design for you! I was fascinated with the idea of exploring thread path options. In particular, the Swarovski rose Montee beads allow you to pass thread through the bead in two directions – vertical and horizontal. They also happen to be about the right size to sit between Arcos beads, so I wanted to create a design that made the most of the multiple thread directions. This bracelet was the result and you can find the tutorial here.
There are no rules to state that arcos beads can only be used for jewellery! So, in an experiment to create an ornate, yet simple Christmas bauble, I used the arcos and minos beads together to create a pattern. Somehow as the design evolved, so too did my ideas and this came to make me think of holly, so the holly bauble was born. I mentioned that you don’t need a terrific number of arcos and minos to create a statement, well this tutorial is the perfect example of that philosophy. You can find the holly bauble pattern here.