Create jewellery designs with words or single letters using letter beads. Alphabet beads typically have a 3.5mm opening drilled through the centre. This size hole is larger than many other beads used to make jewellery designs. The larger-hole letter beads work best if you string them on sturdy cording, such as leather or satin, for support. Look for letter beads at craft stores and online bead suppliers, or get creative and make your own.
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Cubed letter beads are available in a variety of metals including pewter, antiqued gold pewter, silver plate and sterling silver. Cubed letter beads vary in size from 5.5mm cubed to 8mm by 6mm cubed. Letter designs vary by manufacturer; some letter beads have symbol designs, such as the Greek alphabet or a peace sign. Metal letter beads are also available in shapes, such as hearts, in an average size of 7mm. Letters on metal beads may be engraved or embossed on the metal. Engraved letters often have black markings inside the engraved area for emphasis.
Acrylic letter beads are often shaped as cubes or double-sided flat rounds. Both shapes are available in a wide array of styles and designs. White acrylic beads with black or multicoloured letters, black acrylic beads with white letters, gold beads with black letters and multicoloured acrylic beads with white or black letters are common design styles for both letter bead styles. Common sizes for cubed letter beads range from 6mm cubed to 7mm cubed; common sizes for double-sided flat rounds range from 6.5mm to 7mm by 4mm.
Commercially available polymer clay beads are often coin shaped and range in size from 6mm to 8mm. Letters are stamped or embossed on both sides of the coin. You can make your own polymer clay beads using any colour of polymer clay and rubber-stamp letter styles. Condition the clay and roll it into a snake with a diameter equal to the desired bead size. Press the rubber stamp letters into the soft clay and insert wire or a skewer through the bead before baking or hardening it. Create other letter bead shapes using clay cutters, small cookie cutters or by freehand. Make the letters on hardened beads with a paint pen or with a rubber stamp and permanent ink.
Letter beads need not have a drilled hole to be usable in your jewellery designs. Create your own letter beads by attaching glue-on bails to board-game letter tiles or mosaic tiles. Glue-on bails have a flat back that fits against the tile, attached to a metal circle that allows for stringing the beads. Glue the bails onto the tiles with one-part epoxy adhesive. Make the letters on the small glass or mosaic tiles using a paint pen.
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