12mm Ultem Mílos Begleri
12mm Ultem Mílos Begleri
With all of our other bead options, it's hard to imagine anything minimalist carving out a new space for itself between our Sigma begleri, our Hydras, our many spherical Boss beads, and the rest of our range. But the Mílos have done just that, offering a distinctive look and feel that works in a variety of setups. These apple-shaped beads are a traditional shape, and were originally modelled after our jade bodhis. In terms of weight and feel, the Mílos have a lot in common with our similarly sized spherical beads, but to the tactile and auditory connoisseurs out there, the differences will be immediately clear.
The Mílos beads make for a great begleri setup, and our Ultem/ titanium edition is no exception. For this version, we've gone to the very lower end of the recomended weight range, at around 11g for the full set, including cord. The feel is comfortable in the hand, and their light weight, combined with the stacked bead arrangement help to reduce impact on the knuckles, for a quick, and enjoyable slinging experience. For these begleri, we've paired the Ultem Mílos with matching titanium beads. This provides a lovely weight distribution that plays well even at such a light weight, and excels on our custom 2mm kevlar cord. Other pairings with brass or copper may be available in the future, but for now, the titanium is hitting a sweet spot over here.
Ultem is the branded name for a high-performance polymer also known as polyetherimide, or PEI. It's solidly in the category of what we might call badass plastics. These are materials that demonstrate exceptional properties, which truly set them apart from conventional polymers. Ultem has actually been around since the 1980s, but has only recently become widely commercially avaiable, and has subsequently exploded into the EDC scene. You'll see it in everything from knife handles to flashlights and everything in between. Part of what makes Ultem special is that when it sets and solidifies, the polymers bond in a way that prevents re-melting, even under extreme heat. This gives the material excellent thermal properties. It's also UV, chemical, and flame resistant, and due to its hardness, it can be machined very precisely, and much thinner than other plastics. Strictly speaking, none of these properties are required for a set of beads, but as with titanium on kevlar, there's just something awesome in knowing that what you have in your hand is exceptional.. that you could, if you wanted, use it for aerospace applications. The material has a crisp and solid feel in the hand. The polished versions have a glossy texture, similar to acrylic, while the machined finished versions have a soft feel, almsot like sea glass.
To most collectors and EDC enthusiasts, the most distinctive feature of Ultem might be its appearance. It is truly something to behold. In its natural state, the material is clear or semi-transparent, with a deep golden yellow or amber colour. In fact, it looks and feels remarkably like an amber resin, and there is an interesting connection there that is worth elaborating. Amber is one of the traditionally prized materials used for komboloi and worry beads, throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. And while we often think of traditional materials as being those that are naturally occurring, this is not entirely the case with worry beads. Amber itself is often stabilized with synthetic resins, but beyond this, readers of bead history will also see frequent reference to exotic sounding materials like Faturan, Bakelite, Parkesine, and Catalin. These are all polymer plastics - prized by antique collectors, and still used today in modern production. This historical context helps to legitimize a higher end polymer like Ultem in our product range, and in some ways, it's kind of symbolic of our journey. One of this things Aroundsquare has done well as a brand over the years is to respect and build on the historical roots of the products we create, and extend them into the modern era. We always seek to recognize and honour these roots, while bringing out contemporary designs using the best available modern materials. And having said all of that, here's this month's Ultem lineup.
- 2x Ultem + 2 Titanium 12mm Mílos
- Weight: ~12g all in
Note: The Mílos have a 3mm bore, and are designed to run on thinner cords like our 2mm kevlar cord or standard 275 paracord. This is different from most of our other begleri, which have either a 3.5mm or 4mm bore. It is fairly easy to work a cleanly cut and singed piece of soft 550 paracord into the Mílos, but thicker 550 will be a challenge to insert (and if this is your preference, we would recommend choosing another model).
New to begleri? Check out Aroundsquare's AO2 Crew demonstrating what this toy's all about, via the talented guys at Kuma Films (below). You may also want to visit our general information page on begleri, or do a deep dive on the history, configurations, or manipulation of this remarkable little toy.