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List of Current Articles: Just click on the one you want to read
1.) Antiquing in London
2.) October 2001 trip to the Czech Republic
3.) Upper Midwest Bead Society Bead Challenge
4.) The Great Czech Two-Hole Bead Wars
5.) The Demise of the Rivoli

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 The Great Czech Two-Hole Bead Wars
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 2012.

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 cannot.

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 are endless.


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.

Links 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 months.

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