Practically anything that can be strung on cording or thread can be used in working beaded kumihimo patterns. From paper to wood to glass and metal beads, it just depends on the type of jewelry you wish to make.
For example, if you like trendy artistic styles, you can first make beads from fancy paper and then combine them with unique fibers to make gorgeous pop-art jewelry. Or, if you are more of a traditionalist who prefers classic elegance, you can purchase glass, seed and metal beads for your kumihimo patterns.
Most kumihimo projects use seed beads for braiding as their curved sides and doughnut forms make them ideal for the smooth texture and cylinder shape that is characteristic of kumihimo necklaces and bracelets.
My Favorite Places for Great Beads to Use with Kumihimo Patterns
Bead stores are traditionally the best places to shop for items you will need for kumihimo projects. Since they are boutique-style specialty stores, you can usually find an amazing variety of beads in all sizes and shapes.
That being said, here are the four best online places to find not only traditional seed beads, but unusual or odd-shaped beads that work well with basic 8-warp kumihimo projects.
#1 – Etsy
I enjoy browsing and shopping on Etsy because the online stores on the site constantly exceed my expectations. Each time I visit, I find new items to add to my kumihimo collection. Since there are so many shops that are part of the site, you can narrow your choices by searching for the ones that have the kind of beads you’re looking for. I tend to shop for sales and bargains, so I look for Etsy stores that are having clearance sales. So far, I have had excellent results whenever I have ordered from Etsy (which is quite often). Shop Etsy
#2 – Beadaholique
Not only can you find a wide assortment of beads and jewelry findings, you can also view tutorials for kumihimo patterns and braiding techniques as well. Beadaholique sells beads in a variety of finishes from AB to matte to transparent glass beads with colors painted on the inside to galvanized metallic beads and every other finish you can imagine! Shop Beadaholique
#3 – Artbeads
This family-owned online shop sells beads of all shapes and sizes—including gemstones. You can purchase the beads in bags, tubes, by strands or loose, depending on your needs. You can even buy antique and precious metal beads as well. Shop Artbeads
#4 – Fusion Beads
From Swarovski Crystal to Preciosa Pips and more, you can find a very large assortment of beads from the Czech Republic, Japan and France. Some of my favorites include the Thai Silver Collection of findings and metal beads as well as fire polished glass beads—YUM! There’s also a retail store in Seattle for all you Washington jewelry addicts who love working with kumihimo patterns. Shop Fusion Beads