I can hear the groans as I type this. More new beads??!!! Well, yes. But I think you might actually want to investigate the Tubelet beads if you enjoy working with traditional seed beads. Why? They’re a new (better) substitute for bugle beads…
What are Tubelets?
As I write this, in June 2019, Potomac Beads company has just launched the Tubelet beads. They have been designed as a modern substitute for Bugle beads.
So, why would we need this? Well, if you’ve ever worked with bugle beads, you’ll know they’re lovely, but not perfect. Arguably, their biggest flaw is the sharp edges. These cut thread. So, it’s tricky to create projects that stand the test of time.
I used to get around this in a couple of ways:
- using Fireline thread which didn’t break so easily, but even that wasn’t perfect
- making multiple passes through the beads, so there would be more than one thread to break
- using small seed beads to shield the ends of the bugles and protect the thread
These are all perfectly good solutions that beaders have been using for years. So, why change now?
Well, it’s kind of nice to have an option that is a bit ‘safer’.
Size and colours
I’ve just shown you a photo of some Tubelets next to some bugle beads. So, you’ll see, the Tubelet beads are slightly fatter. This is what allows for the more rounded edges. But of course, it does mean they’re not a direct substitute in all your beading projects.
For some, they will work. But we are going to need some new designs to use these beads. (Which I will come back to later on…)
The actual size of the beads is 6×2.8mm. They are sold in 8g tubes – that’s about 95 beads.
You can get the Tubelets in a huge range of colours, just as you would expect from Potomac.
Where can you buy Tubelet beads?
Well, Potomac Beads is the obvious choice! You can use this link to access their website and choose your Tubelets (plus loads of other fabulous beads).
You can also check out your Local Bead Store.
How to use Tubelets
I had a little play around with a small pack of these beads. The 8g tube actually goes a long way. So, I only used a few to make this pendant.
I found them lovely to work with. In design terms, you would be using them like bugle beads. So, they are great for creating texture and interest in blocks of vertical beads. They do have the added advantage of not cutting thread as you work. So, I think this increases the scope of designs in which you can use them.
But don’t take my word for it! Grab a pack here and try them out for yourself.