How to make 3D animals with Japanese beading

Updated February 21, 2017

Japanese-style beaded motifs are 3-D motifs made from small glass beads. With the addition of a brooch back, an attractive ribbon or a length of chain, beaded motifs can be made into pins, pendants and other jewellery. They make ornamental charms for cellphones, bags, purses and more. A beaded animal figure can also be glued to a base for use as a miniature ornament. Many patterns are available online: there are plenty of free patterns for teddy bears, cats and other animals. (See references 1 and 2.)

Choose a pattern to make. For a beginner, a simple design is best as more complex motifs might prove discouraging. Select a design with clear instructions as to materials and methods. Look for patterns that specify how much thread to use, how many beads you will need and that offer tips and hints. (See references 1 and 2.)

Choose the right beads for your design. Buy good quality beads, as these will be more uniform. Make sure the beads you use are all the same shape and size, and have a uniform colour. Oddly shaped beads or beads that vary too much in size will give poor results. The colour of your beads should go all the way through the bead: colour applied as a coating will wear off. (See reference 1.)

Measure and cut your beading thread. It can be tricky to add on more thread if it runs out before you finish: joins can be visible and may create weak spots in your completed animal. Always measure the thread carefully to be sure that you cut it to the length advised in the instructions. (See reference 1.)

Make a knot in your beading thread and start threading your beads. Follow your particular pattern's instructions carefully. Keep the beads pushed closely together on the thread, but don't pull so hard that you snap it. (See references 1.)

Tie off your thread once your animal is complete. Unless the instructions specify something different, weave the long end back down through the design until it comes out next to the other end of the thread, the tie the two ends together firmly and seal with a very small drop of cyanoacrylate glue. (See references 1.)


Get advice on choosing the right materials, especially beading threads. Ask more experienced crafters what they use, and see if the pattern's designer has any suggestions. Bead store staff may also be able to give advice. If possible, show them the pattern you are going to use. (See references 1 and 2.)


Crystal beads often have sharp edges, so be careful not to fray the thread against these as you work. Some people use a tool called a bead reamer to smooth sharp edges before starting. Remember that cyanoacrylate glue bonds skin in seconds, so handle it carefully. (See reference 3.)

Things You'll Need

  • Japanese-style crystal beads
  • Strong beading thread (such as nylon monofilament)
  • Cyanoacrylate glue
  • Pattern and instructions
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About the Author

Jason Thompson has been self-employed as a freelance writer since 2007. He has written advertisements, book and video game reviews, technical articles and thesis papers. He started working with Mechanical Turk and then started contracting with individuals and companies directly via the Web.