>Culling All Hex Beads

The other day, Joshua asked “So, just how long does it take you to clean up when you’re done? Do you pick all of the black beads out of the blue ones? That must take 9 years!”

Beaded Back to the Future DeLorean car pop art bead embroidery artist seed beads

It certainly does take 9 years! Another thing that takes a long time is selecting which seed beads to stitch onto my piece. Not all seed beads are created equal. Some are imperfectly shaped or broken, and some have smaller holes than others. So, I have to carefully pick which ones I want to use out of a pile of hundreds of beads! 

This process is referred to as culling. I haven’t had to do this very often. Usually, I use Japanese seed beads, which are very uniform. But, the hex-cut beads I’m using for my DeLorean time machine are from the Czech Republic, and they are not as uniform. You can see a close up of these seed beads HERE.

Beaded Back to the Future DeLorean car pop art bead embroidery artist seed beads

When I come across a seed bead that I don’t like, I put it in this mini Heinz ketchup bottle. The beads in this bottle represent the last 4-5 years of beading! What do you do with beads you don’t like? And, now that my bottle is almost full, what should I do with the imperfect seed beads??


Beaded Back to the Future DeLorean car pop art bead embroidery artist seed beads(Semi-beaded Back to the Future DeLorean time machine.
10″ wide x 4″. Bead embroidery on felt.)


The good thing is, I think I am finished using hex beads on this piece. Next, I want to add a coating of beaded ice over the body of the car because this car just came Back From the Future… But first, I need to clean up my pile of beads… 😮 

24 thoughts on “>Culling All Hex Beads

  1. >This is such a great idea! I feel sad for the not-so-perfect beads which I have discarded…who would have thought that collectively they could look so beautiful!You work is amazing and so unique 🙂 Each piece has a life of its own!Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a lovely message. I really appreciate you taking the time!

  2. >Always I cull out the very thin seed beads… I mean the ones that are much smaller from one side of the hole to the other side of the hole. They go in a little pile. The thicker than average ones go in their own little pile as well. Sometimes, I also cull out the ones with larger and smaller than average diameter. These are all very useful beads, as they can be used to finish a line of beads to exactly the right length or to merge two lines of beads or taper a line of beads. When I'm done with a project, any of these non-average beads go back in the bag with the others.I'm definitely a "pile" person and will take the time to sort any that get mixed together. I don't buy "bead mixes" either. However, as a teacher, I see that it doesn't matter whether a person prefers piles or soups… both can produce amazing beading!You asked….;>) Robin

  3. >Thanks Joann! I like the idea of using a honey jar – cool! And, I have never really tried freeform right angle weave, but sounds like I would like it! Interesting that you like it better than freeform peyote!And, I can’t wait to finish this piece either! 😮

  4. >I have a small honey jar that I use for my bead soup. I’m planning to do some freeform right angle weave with it at some point. I find it much easier to do than freeform peyote.The DeLorean looks divine, as always. I can’t wait until the set is done!Joann

  5. >Thanks!! 😀 And, we don't really have those small bottles around here either. They are not available for sale, anyways. I believe these are specially made for restaurants & bars – that is where I got mine! 😉

  6. >The DeLorean is looking great! Can’t wait to see how you do the ice. I often make bead soup, but just as often get compulsive about separating out the colors. A friend of mine collects unwanted bead for a group of Mongolian beaders and we send them a box each year. Another does the same for a group in Africa. How about giving them to a Seniors group?Arline

  7. >I think I would actually glue them to the outside of the jar itself and turn your bead jar into its own piece of work. Then you’d get to enjoy them at the same time you ping another one in there.I keep wanting to call it your ORT jar. I stitch way too much.

  8. >Oh I know, the cleanup when a bead project is finished can be so time consuming. Even though I try as hard as I can to keep those little piles from migrating and merging, they always do end up as a big bead soup. I bought this nifty elongated and curved metal bead scoop that is a big help in separating all of those beads.Last spring when I took Laurie Mika’s workshop and created a mosaicon, we used seed beads to fill the small gaps between tiles. To help those teeny beads stay put, I poured Diamond Glaze over them. Perhaps you can use that to create something with your bead soup.Your beaded time machines are fabulous!

  9. >I think every beader has a stash like this!!! every once in a while I actually use it to make something. I don’t seed bead so much anymore, so mostly mine are bigger beads I’m 2 gosh darn lazy to put away!! oh… BTW, you’ve been TAGGED. Visit my blog, http://mkpbeadart.blogspot.com Nov 1st entry for the rules and I look forward to seeing your info.and blam Liz (the bad Liz) she has a link for your blog on her’s!!

  10. >Thanks for the comments! I’m sure I will probably keep the imperfect seed beads for a gluing project or something… And, I try to clean up most of my seed beads whenever possible. Sometimes a few different shades of the same colour ends up mixed up on my table, so I just put them all in a bag, and write the name of the project on the bag.

  11. >Oh, bead soup sounds good! I dropped a box of 6 mm Swarovski crystals (box had fifteen different compartments and fifteen different colored beads) Now sorting the 6 mm size beads was time consuming enough but seed beads – bead soup.Bev

  12. >I think cleaning up afterwards is my least favortie thing about beading. I hate sorting them….most of the time it gets turned into bead soup.The DeLorean is coming together nicely, by the way.I’m itchen to see you bead something more 3 dimensional now! We should plan out your next project and I’ll see if i can make a form for you…would be exciting to collaborate in some way but I don’t bead much these days due to tennis elbow.

  13. >Thanks for the comment, Kim! I don’t buy cheap seed beads either… I hate them. Especially Chinese ones. But, these beads are Czech! I got them in North Bohemia! Some of them are very good quality, but some are not. What’s interesting is that the bugle beads I got at the same shop are all very perfect!

  14. >I honestly have not had that problem very often , I think it all comes down to the quality of the beads that you buy,and I’m extremely picky to say the least 🙂 my in-laws laugh at me b/c I won’t buy from a local shop in town who sells cheap beads (“well, you know better than us”) and prefer to order and wait in order to get better quality stuff. I’ve learned who sells quality 🙂 sometimes though, I’ll use lower quality stuff for me if I have it around still (I wasn’t as picky when things were just for me as I am about what I sell).That bottle makes such a sweet picture though 🙂 I love it

Comments are closed.