The Great Czech Two-Hole
By Doris Coghill - July 2012
In the 1920-30s, and again in the 1950-60's,
Czechoslovakia and Germany produced many two hole pressed glass
beads that were used in the very popular costume jewelry designs
of the era. Both the beads themselves and the jewelry created
from them are very sought after by vintage collectors. One of
the reasons they are so collectable is that very few two-hole
beads were created after that time.
The Czech Republic bead industry has suffered through the recession
along with the rest of the world, loosing many of its bead factories.
Both the large industrial and the small cottage industries have
been affected. Some changed ownership, some closed or slowed
production. In some cases ownership reverted back to previous
owners which added more experienced hands or artistic eyes "on
deck" which added to more creativity in shapes, cutting
possibilities, color variety and general aesthetics. All of
this has caused the owners to create new shapes and finishes
to give the Czech bead industry a much needed new start.
Preciosa Ornela (Part of the largest bead company in the Czech
Republic formerly known as Jablonex) came up with the idea of
Twin Beads, an oval shaped bead with two holes about the size
of two size 8 beads fused together. The Twin Beads are made in
a process similar to seed beads where the hot glass is extruded
or stretched, over a long distance, in an oval shape with two
air bubbles forming the holes. The resulting glass rods are
then sliced and tumbled to smooth out the edges. To save on production
costs and start slowly to see if the bead industry liked this
new shape the Twins were only produced in clear and black glass
with the colors done as surface finishes. These new beads were
a hit as soon as they arrived in the US in late 2011 - early
One of the small independent factories
decided that they would make a similar bead using the pressed
glass process. These beads are now being made using all of the
beautifully colored glass we have come to associate with Czech
pressed glass beads. These pressed two-hole beads are called
Super Duo and are a little wider (3mm as compared to 2mm) than
the Twin Beads, but can be substituted for Twin Beads in many
patterns. Of course Preciosa objected due to copy infringement
- but settled out of court. As a comeback, Preciosa is now starting
to produce their own pressed two-hole bead called "Twin
Pressed" that will be available late in 2012. The Super
Duo's are on the market now, but in limited quantities, and are
being produced using the wonderful colored glass and AB and Picasso
finishes that we have come to love from all Czech beads.
Due to mass production techniques,
seed beads are actually generally cheaper to produce than pressed
beads (as they are mass produced) but the pressed beads can be
done in the small cottage industry type settings and seed beads
One of the other large Czech factories
developed a 6mm flat square bead with two holes that they are
calling CzechMates Tile Beads. It is not surprising that about
a year after they were introduced there are several other smaller
factories producing their own version also with two holes and
varying finishes. These square beads are similar in size to
the Japanese Tila Beads made by the MIYUKI Company, except that
they have smooth corners and are slightly thicker, but can usually
be used in patterns calling for Tila Beads.
York Imports, one of the wholesale
Czech importers has just started to produce flat round disks
with two holes and I am told that a new two-hole tube is also
in the works.
Will we have more shapes of two-hole
beads in the future? All beaders hope so as the design possibilities
September 2012 update: Since I originally wrote this article earlier in the
summer another two hole bead has appeared on the market. It
is being produced by yet another factory in Czech and is also
being called Super Duo but are almost identical in shape to the
original Twin Beads and can be used interchangeable in patterns
calling for twin beads where the Super Duo with the flat sides
(3mm wide) may not work. You can tell the difference by looking
at the side of the beads. If there is a bump between the holes
it is either a Twin Bead or a Super Duo and can be used together.
If it has a flat surface it is also called a Super Duo but will
not work in the same pattern as the one with the bump. Confusing?
Yes absolutely! I don't know what they were thinking calling
two different shaped beads by the same name.
to free patterns using these great
two-hole beads. Several by Preciosa and one by Diane Fitzgerald.
We will have the square two hole beads for sale in a couple of