MKUltras - Ultem Mílos 12mm Long Form Edition
MKUltras - Ultem Mílos 12mm Long Form Edition
With all of our other bead options, it's hard to imagine anything minimalist carving out a new space for itself between our mini sigmas, our spherical beads, and the rest of our range. But the Mílos justified their existence from the first samples, and they're set to become a new favourite for many. 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 are essentially short and cylindrical, but with heavily rounded external edges, and a 3mm bore that hugs the cord slightly more than our spherical beads. This makes gives them a very comfortable feel for bead counting, dramatically reducing the potential hot spot where the thumb grabs each bead.
The 12mm Mílos beads are the perfect size for this material, and work well with both the short and long form ultras setup. The 3mm bore on the beads provides a great experience during bead counting, and the crisp clack of the beads during raindrops is pleasant and fresh. The Ultem material is light enough to flip beautifully, regardless of your skill level, and the beads can be played in two packets, or from the 15mm titanium boss bead.
The Long Form Edition of the Mílos features 31 of our 12mm apple shaped Mílo beads, and are designed to be worn on the wrist in a double loop. The sliding 15mm AO2 Etched boss bead provides a friction fit locking mechanism to keep the set in place when worn, while sliding down to create slack when the set is being played.
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.
General Information on the MKUltras
The MKUltras are a hybrid design, combining elements of traditional Mala and Komboloi beads. The MKUltra name gives a nod to this lineage, as well as their expedience as tools to help us focus our minds and still our thoughts. They can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from quiet bead counting, through to raucous flipping.
The unique setup of the MKUltras allows them to be worn like mala beads, or carried discretely in the pocket. They adjust by means of a simple friction fit through the larger "Micro Boss" bead closure. Although the design is exceedingly simple, we're fairly confident you won't find anything quite like them around. This is a knotless system, and does not require any special lock bead. The cord is simply compressed when threaded through the Micro Boss bead, providing a reliable, secure fastener, that is easy to adjust when needed.
In this way, the Ultras can be worn on the wrist, or loosened and slid up above the elbow to keep them out of the way when needed. Excess cordage can be knotted loosely around the Micro Boss bead when they are worn on the wrist, or left dangling. This modifiable arrangement allows them to be used very quietly, for simple bead counting used in breath work and meditation, to "raindrop" methods marked by the satisfying, rhythmic clacking of the beads, as well as much more physical methods of manipulation which resemble short game begleri play. While they aren't intended as a highly technical skill toy, there are still a solid range of moves you can link together, and lots of ways of working with them.
- 31x 12mm Mílos + 1x 15mm Etched AO2 Lil' Boss
- Weight: ~ 44.2g all in
- Strung on AO2's new custom 12-strand, high density, 2mm Kevlar cord
New to the Ultras? You can wear em on your wrist, or check out the video below for some other examples of what these beads are capable of.