Our inspiration this time comes from the East with our old friends, the Long Magatama bead. These beads have been around for quite a while, and their origins a lot longer that you may have first thought! So let's kick off with a little history of the bead.
The term 'Magatama' was the name given to curved, comma shaped beads from pre-historic Japan, approximately 1000 BC (the final Jomon Period) to the 6th century CE (the Kofun period)!
These beads were originally made from stone and earthen materials, but later made almost exclusively from Jade and were thought to be used as amulets, talismans or ritual objects, as well as decorative jewellery pieces. They've also been found in various burial sites from the Kofun period.
The Miyuki Long Magatama beads are slightly differently shaped to the original Magatama beads, however you can see how the early beads have influenced their contemporary cousins. Long Magatamas are approximately 4 x 7mm, with a single hole measuring 1.4mm across. They're a slanted, almost petal shaped bead, cut at an angle from front to back. The hole is near to the top of the bead which allows them to be used in a similar way to a drop bead.
As they have more glass than a traditional Magatama bead, it means more light passes through creating a greater sparkle - perfect for adding texture, dimension and interest to a designMiyuki has produced a contemporary version of this shape with their Magatama seed bead range (available in 3mm, 4mm and 5mm), along with a later, more elongated version of the bead - the Long Magatama!
Long Magatamas come in a variety of colours and finishes such as transparent, transparent frost, silver-lined, metallic and rainbow to name just a few! And as they are manufactured by Miyuki you can be guaranteed quality and consistency throughout.
Check out the range from CJ Beaders here
Check out the full range from Miyuki here
When these beads are stitched together, they can nestle up closely to each other and create almost a scale-like design - hence why there are so many patterns available using them that are dragon-scale related!
Below is a simple sample of peyote stitched 8/0 seed beads and Long Magatamas, to show how they form a scale feature. You can see the possibilities for creating a textural strip or how they could be used in other stitches such as Spiral stitch.
Long Magatamas also work well in Kumihimo, Bead Crochet, Leather and Loom work due to their large holes.
However if you are using Long Magatamas in your project, you must ensure they are stitched on the right way, otherwise you'll end up with some beads facing the wrong way and spoiling your design.
Pay close attention to the bevelled 'front' and 'back' of the bead and regularly check what you have stitched (take it from us, it is easy to add a bead or two the wrong way round, grrr!)
They can also be used to create structural pieces, such as Christmas trees, wreaths and even these gorgeous pinecones!
We found a blog and a link to purchase the pinecone pattern here
So go East (or West, or North, or South) to your nearest laptop, tablet or PC and get your hands on some Long Magatamas today by clicking on the link below!
We'd love to see what you make so please share, share, share with us!