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Micro Beaded Mania
So what's all the buzz about the micro bead?
Now a days, it's become apparent that everyone is
describing their purses as, "micro beaded", without giving any consideration to
the actual size of the beads themselves. This confusion or misinformation
is somewhat understandable. To the human eye, beads on vintage purses seem small, so
the tendency is to refer to the purse as micro beaded even though a good amount
of beaded purses are not.
There's also the wide belief that micro beaded
purses often sell for higher prices. This factor can reflect on how a
purse is portrayed to a prospective buyer. Therefore, the
vintage beaded purse collector should become educated concerning the differences,
types and styles of beaded bags.
So, what is the size of the micro bead?
Determining the micro bead has evolved into a straightforward equation but there
are still some differences of opinion when that question is asked. Nonetheless,
the true definition of micro is: very small.
To help classify the different sizes, beads are
categorized according to a number, the larger the number, the smaller the bead.
Today's more commonly found vintage beaded bags are made of bead sizes 9/0 through 15/0 but the
much rarer 1800's antique beads are sizes 16/0 through 24/0.
In order to distinguish between the various sizes,
the beads have been calculated according to the approximate number of beads per
inch. For example: the size 13/0 bead measures about 23 beads per inch and
the 18/0 bead computes to about
40 beads per inch. Although not always
precise, measuring the number of beads per inch is a
sensible solution towards achieving clarification of the micro bead.
But other variables should be considered. Antique micro
beads were made by hand and did vary in size, even within the same
batch of beads. So the approach of qualifying the micro bead by the inch
is not always exact. Also, the construction of the purse will influence the
accuracy when determining bead size. For instance, a looser knit purse will have a lower bead count
per inch than one
that is snugly knit with the same size bead. Therefore, it would be best to measure the fringe
possible, for a more acceptable bead count. Otherwise, on a looser knit or
woven bag, you will have to
estimate the count per inch as if the beads were all very close together or
touching one another.
There is also the factor of human error.
Counting these beads is not always easy and it can be a bit tough on the eyes.
A magnifying glass is a must have when examining the micro or the ultra micro
bead. A toothpick for use as a pointer will come in handy for keeping
track of these tiny, minute beads while you're counting them.
Personally, I tend to assess beadwork as follows, basing my judgment on approximate ranges
and the individual evaluation of each purse:
Ultra Micro Beaded: 27 and more beads per inch or upwards of 1000 beads per sq.
in. and more
Micro Beaded: 22 - 26 beads per inch or 475 - 700 beads per sq. in.
Small Beadwork: 17 - 21 beads per inch or 275 - 450 beads per sq. in. (20 - 21
beads per inch, safely
considered micro by many)
Medium Beading: 12 - 16 beads per inch or 150 - 250 beads per sq. in.
Larger Beading: about 10 beads per inch or 100 beads per sq. in.
I hope this article has been helpful in regard to the micro bead.
Now go and count those beads.
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