My favorite glass beads are Czech made mainly because of tremendous range of bead colors, types and finishes.  No wonder, as Czechoslovakia, in particular the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, have a long history of bead making.

Piggy Beads
There is some evidence that Czech beads were made sporadically dating back to Roman times but the industry in that part of Europe began to really take shape from the 16th century onwards. They became masters of pressed beads which were mechanically formed using molds as opposed to mandrels. Small amounts of molten glass were pressed into molds and rods were used to make the holes. The technique was later streamlined with the use of multi-molds and machines. 

The bead makers were not only innovative in their bead designs but they even used  traveling "sample men" in the 19th century who asked for feedback as to what beaders wanted in different far flung markets.

Before the war, Czech bead making was largely a cottage industry.  Bead manufacture suffered a decline during the Communist era. However, the need for hard currency when the economy flagged in 1958 changed their anti-capitalistic stance.  The Communists then nationalized the bead industry and for some time actually used penal labor in their factories.  Communist control ceased in 1989.

Today, Czech beads remain popular among beaders.  Best Beads, an international supplier of Czech beads (both retail and wholesale) recently sent me new beads to review.  These are piggy beads - no prizes why they are called that! The ones I received are examples of the range of bead finishes Czech manufacturers are renowned for. The white ones on the far right had a gold like finish on them.

These two hole beads  feed right into the current fad for double holes.  But what is unusual is they are offset. One hole is in the middle, the other is to the side.  I was asked how they could be used.  So I came up with 2 earring designs - the gold swirl and wreath earrings. Both are now available in my store - 100% of the net proceeds from their sales will go to to cancer research.

Well, you could always ignore the side hole and use just the central one.  These piggy beads make excellent colored bead caps when you want something other than metal ones.  I picked the white ones sporting a touch of gold to go with the gold swirl lamp work beads - they bracketed not just the focal beads but the coiled wire stem too.

The closeup shows a good match of the piggy beads with the white inner core of the see-through lampwork beads.  Metal bead caps would have been so wrong for this design!

I also made used of the off set holes in my Swarovski montee wire wrapped wreath earrings design.  The montees were wired on using just the central hole. A single seedbead was added to connect the wreath to the ear studs!  I also wire wrapped seedbeads around the metal wreath.

There are all sorts of possibilities with these beads.   This promotional banner photograph shows what the piggy beads would look like if you strung them alternatively through a central then side hole using 2 stringing wires.  Neat, eh?

If you'd like to win the $50 worth of  Czech beads (not just piggy beads) from Best Beads to create your own awesome designs,  please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info if you do not have an online shop or blog.

Subscribers need to click on the post title to come to my actual blog. Scroll down and enter your comment. Pick Name/URL. If you don't have a store or blog, leave the URL blank.

This giveaway is international.

Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower etc. If you also do shout outs about this giveaway, those will count as additional entries too! Please say so in the comments.

It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday,  July 29 , 2013. I will pick the winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Otherwise I will redraw in a week. Good luck!


Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips