What are Lentil Beads?
Lentil beads looked like round beads that have been squashed into a flattish shape – I say ‘flattish’ because they have slightly rounded fronts and backs which allows you to create lovely textures with them. Lentil beads come in two varieties: with one hole and with two holes. They also come in a fabulous range of colours. These beads measure about 6mm across their diameter. In the one-holed variety, the hole sits at the bottom of the bead. The two-holed variety has the usual hole near the bottom and then an additional hole near the top, so it looks – and sits – rather like a button.
Thoughts on Designing with Lentil Beads
Whether you decide to use the one-hole or two-hole versions, the lentil beads look great when stitched so that they sit sideways on to view, or when viewed flat. The shaped front and back edges allow the beads to fan into a small ‘V’ shape if you use them in herringbone stitch. This was a discovery I made when I created this cuff bracelet – just look at how the two rows of Lentil beads add interest and texture to the edge. I used the two-hole variety for the inner row and then finished off with a row of one-hole lentils, so there is great versatility in being able to create with both types in a single project. You can find the tutorial for this bracelet here.
In another attempt to use the Lentil beads for edging, I found they added a simple, but very effective texture around the outside of a cabochon on this pair of earrings. In this instance I just incorporated them using Peyote stitch. You can find the earrings tutorial by following this link.
As with other varieties of two-holed bead, the two-holed lentil beads can be used to easily add layers to a project. In the embellishment around the cabochon on this necklace, I was able to use one hole on the bead to attach to the edge of the cabochon, then use the free second hole to work in peyote stitch, then add faceted beads to create an interesting embellishment. This involves incredibly simple thread paths, but it looks as though it would have been much more complicated – the perfect design for beading! If you want to try this project, you can find a link to the tutorial here.
If you prefer bead embroidery, or indeed embellishing a flat beaded surface, then you can use the two-holed lentils rather like buttons – just use tiny seed beads to connect between the holes as you stitch the lentil bead into place.
Tips for Using Lentil Beads
Lentil beads are really very straightforward to use, but I do have a couple of tips that you might find helpful. Firstly, my standard warning if you are using the two-holed beads…make sure you check that both holes are open before you use each bead. Very often you will be incorporating these beads by stitching through one hole and not coming back to use the second hole until further along in the project. So if you then find the second hole is blocked, you will have to undo a lot of work in order to replace the bead. The easiest way to check is to stab your needle through one hole on the bead, then actually pick it up through the other hole – that way you will be sure that both holes are clear.
The second tip applies to the colouring on these beads. Some of them are colour coated: the blue iris beads that you can see in the earrings above have an irridescent coating on one side and a plain glass coating on the other. This gives the colour effect as you look through the bead, but you need to make sure that you pick the beads up so that the side on show is consistent. Either side will be fine to use – just make sure you keep to the same one all through the project!
I have plenty more ideas for using the Lentil beads, so keep checking back as I create more links to tutorials for you to try.