beading, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, glass beads, organization, seed beads

Reminders of the pleasures of life – 01

I have photos of my new storage system today, as I wanted to do something which wasn’t…academic, anymore. I have also been looking around at retailers, online.

I know certain things I need for at least one project, but right now I’m trying to figure out from whom to get them. Factoring into that is the selection the retailer carries, and what extra things they carry that I won’t be able to source elsewhere.

Also, a detractor is the fact that some bead retailers do not say which company manufactures a specific color or finish of bead. Fortunately or not, at least one of these companies has the widest selection of rocaille (round) seed beads I have ever seen. That’s great in terms of selection, not so great in terms of design.

I’ve also bought from this vendor, before, and there is the question of whether the manufacturer even matters, if I was okay prior without knowing the manufacturer (when buying from a local bead store), and if I’m okay with swapping out bead colors just because of those beads’ dimensions.

The size 6/0 rocailles that I’m most likely to use (Czech and Japanese)

Above is a photo of what I’m most likely to use in size 6° (also alternately notated, 6/0, which you may start seeing me use if I get tired of the “°” special character. I should probably just memorize the ASCII code). Most of them should be sourced from the Czech Republic, but some of the newer ones are Miyuki brand — which, I’ve noticed, don’t quite appeal as well to me, aesthetically speaking. They’re just more rectangular and less oval, in profile.

I’m thinking that it’s not as great for RAW (Right-Angle Weave), where the beads need to nest together. I question how they would look in Herringbone stitch, as well…but the most practical way to find out, is to try.

I also have two vials which I know are Toho 6°s, which are the light pink silverlined (upper right corner of the above photo), and Silver Galvanized (that isn’t in these photos). They appear closer to Miyukis than to the Czech 6°s (a characteristic example of which are those apple-green rounds, bottom row, third from the left).

For scale, each of these little containers is about 1″ in diameter.

Size 8/0 seed beads. Same size containers.

The photo right above, here, shows size 8° seed beads, slightly smaller than the size 6°. As the caption reads, the little containers are the same size. I’ve got to say that I’m happier with the color range I have in this size, even though you can see that I didn’t quite know how to organize them.

Both the size 8° and size 6° seed beads will easily fit onto the cord I use for micromacramé — I’ve heard that the brands of C-Lon and S-Lon are relatively interchangeable, though I just recently bought my first spool of S-Lon. (One of them — I won’t say which, just in case I’m wrong — is an off-brand of the other.)

Size 11/0 seed beads, same size container. (Japanese)

Most size 11° seed beads will also fit onto the regular size C-Lon cord, but it requires more work than using the size 8° or 6°. What I’ve done is paint the end of the cord with clear nail polish, then after it is dry, cut the tip at an angle to produce a self-needle stiff enough to pass through the bead holes.

Without doing this, you’re vulnerable to the end of the cord fraying, which will prevent it from being able to pass through this diameter bead hole (noting that the diameter of a bead hole, likely varies between brands). Of course, it’s possible just to cut a new tip…and let it fray again (I’ve been known to do this), but it’s kind of a lot of trouble.

It should go without saying that Czech bead sizing is different than Japanese bead sizing…but maybe that’s just because I’ve been doing this so long.

I’ve found places selling size 10° Czech beads, which — if my memory is right, should match up better to size 11° Japanese beads, than size 11° Czech seed beads (which are slightly smaller, and thus can’t be substituted one-for-one in a pattern utilizing Japanese seed beads). But I can’t really guarantee that. Most of my hanks of Czech seed beads haven’t been labeled as to size — I’ve just had to work out how to fit the different bead sizes together, on the fly. But looking at my collection now, it’s apparent that the shapes are different.

I have some beads which I believe are Czech silverlined light topaz 10°s — basically, transparent pale gold with foil on the inside of the bead hole. At the time I got them, I was still a high school student, and knew nothing about bead sizing — let alone that I should ask the vendor what size they were! This was also at a bead convention, and I don’t know at all, the company I would have bought them from.

Czech seed beads are more donut-shaped and flatter in profile than Japanese seed beads (which are more cylindrical), and they’re generally sold in a different form — that is, stranded and often in hanks (12 strands) or half-hanks (6 strands). Japanese seed beads, in contrast, are most often sold loose in vials, bags, or other plastic containers.

The reasoning behind selling beads in hanks is that it’s much easier to see uniformity in bead size and shape when the beads are stranded and you can compare them to each other.

I’ve just realized that I didn’t even make an effort to photograph my Czech hanks…I’ll have to get around to that, another day. What I can say, though, is that they’re no less beautiful than the Japanese seed beads…and they’re also a reason for me to have gotten the storage I have, so that I can store them loose (and thus, eventually, use them).

I should also note that sometimes size 6° and larger Czech seed beads are sold loose, like Japanese seed beads. I think this is more for convenience and consistency in packaging, than anything. It can discourage use to keep beads on hanks, as well…I know I’m tempted to avoid using them just because they’re so pretty on the hanks, but making something out of them, necessitates cutting them apart.

The below image is of Czech fire-polished round beads. These, in addition to “druks” (round solid glass beads), are essential if you’re going to be doing small-scale bead weaving. I’m pretty sure that the lower row is all 3mm beads; the rest are between 3mm and 6mm (the latter of which, I didn’t even realize I put in here).

Fire-polished rounds, from 3mm to 6mm.

Like I’ve mentioned somewhere (…?) else, 5mm fire-polished rounds are somewhat rare, but they do exist. More common are the 6mm fire-polished rounds, a couple of which are in the very top of this photo (the transparent green and transparent “amethyst”, fourth and fifth from the left). The deep blue between the two greens in the top row (third from the left) is a 5mm size.

Sizes commonly go up through 8, 10, and 12mm…but I’ve found the very large sizes much more useful for stringing and other stand-alone applications (e.g. earrings), than for beadweaving.

I mentioned “druks” earlier. It would be normal that most readers here won’t know what I mean by that, so I’ve taken another photo and cropped it to those druks…which are spherical glass beads.


The very small beads at the bottom of the above photo are 2mm glass “pearls” — I’m not sure if they are technically categorized as druks. They’re very useful for filling tiny spaces where the thread would otherwise be exposed and vulnerable to cuts and abrasions (which are generally the death of well-loved beadwork). The drawback is that all of them I’ve found are vulnerable to the coating on the outside, peeling.

An alternative is using the very small 2 or 3mm Swarovski crystals, which I’ve used before when playing with patterns from bead magazines. I’ve found that these beads only come in a limited number of colors. The edges of their holes are also sharper, so using these necessitates using a tough thread like FireLine, lest the thread be cut while you’re still weaving the thing!

I haven’t yet looked into Chinese crystal for alternatives, though it’s good to know that Swarovski isn’t the only option available.

To the left of the 2mm glass pearls, are “3mm” druks, actually closer to 2.5mm, on measurement. Above them are 3mm druks; the green and purple iris [iridescent] beads on the upper right, are also 3mm, when they were sold as 4mm. The sky blue matte beads in the center, along with the green glass “pearls”, are actually 4mm.

Anyhow, spherical glass beads which are drilled down the center are called “druks”, and they’re again essential if you’re doing tiny bead-weaving which requires technical precision. The fire-polished rounds (so-called because they’re cut and then allowed to melt again slightly, producing their glossy appearance, if memory serves) are also really nice for texture and contrast.

I’ve been able to use fire-polished rounds down to 3mm with C-Lon standard cord for micromacramé, as well.

I know this blog doesn’t have a lot of followers, so for now I’m just putting this here to remind myself that I don’t have to be on the computer writing and studying, all the time. It’s good to weave in some offline content. It’s also been good to do some image-editing…and step out of academic thought, for a while.

beading, beadwork, craft, glass beads, organization, seed beads

Messing around with bead storage

Haaa…I really need to get back to work on an academic project. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem to do — it just requires time. And motivation. The thing is that I’m coming off of a 10-unit semester and a Summer class. It’s just been nice to have time which hasn’t been assigned to anything. It’s been nice not to be graded on anything. (I have to get this project done by this Winter, to graduate.)

Not to mention that I’ve found a nice way to see the palette of colors that I’m working with. I’ve realized something, as well: black, white, and red are colors that are really hard to blend with others.

They’re all high-contrast, in different ways, and easily overpower a piece. Something has to be done to bridge the contrast gap, when they are used — like in one set I’ve separated, which uses off-white beads in addition to silverlined clear. These, in turn, are contrasted against muted denim blue, teal, and blue iris. It also helps that there are a lot of different finishes in that set, from matte to luster, silverlined, and iris.

Right now, I’ve got two sets of little samples of beads — mostly, any color I’d be likely to use — in little clear containers in little clear boxes. It makes it easy enough for me to be able to see what colors I have, which is something I’ve needed fairly badly. I’ve had to make some executive decisions as to which tubes to exclude from these sets — silverlined clear, matte black, transparent red. It’s not hard, due to experience.

Red may be usable if I blend it with Hyacinth (red-orange) and orange hues, which can almost match the vibrancy of the red.

Given the color trends I’ve seen recently, though, I don’t think an intense blood or ruby red is going to be popular. These beads are from a long time ago.

I also have some clue of what to separate out, if I need any more containers (silverlined transparent red, blue/green Picasso). I’ve noted when a bead is from Toho and I’ve known it; I’ve also noted when a bead is the last of its vial and I wouldn’t remember which vial, unless I put a label on the new container. I was torn about whether to include a Miyuki label on the beads I have which I know for a fact, are Miyuki; but referencing the bead back to the original vial will give me that information.

Also, from looking at it, it seems that comparing all of the size 6º beads together, knowing which are Miyuki, will tell me which others are Miyuki (they’re kind of distinctive, next to Toho and Czech size 6º seed beads: they’re larger).

Some bead distributors won’t note the brand of a seed bead, which can pose a problem where it comes to, “recipes,” or patterns. I was also at a fabric store today, and found some Czech “Twin” beads which looked like Twins used to look (like beans), years ago. I’ve seen them to look more like SuperDuos (like diamonds) most recently, unless I’m mistaken; which leads me to believe that there is more than one Czech company manufacturing, “Twins,” with more than one model. I didn’t think to check the country of origin, though, which could have shed some light on the issue.

At this time, I don’t have to immediately get half-size vials, as the small Toho vials I’ve just emptied, may account for all the over-half-empty tubes of seed beads. (As a note: the last two times I bought Toho beads, the vials were much less full than how they used to be packed. On looking at the vial weight, I see that two [likely the older ones] are labeled 9g, while the others [likely new] read 7g. The vial dimensions are the same.) I also found my stash of other empty full-size and functional vials, along with my small plastic bags and stash of experimental samples.

I’ve just been looking for alternative storage, seeing that my older storage tubes are beginning to biodegrade (particularly, the caps).

As for actually doing anything with the beads — I want to rework the necklace I’m wearing, now; fairly badly. But I’ll need to either buy another scarab bead or cut this necklace apart, to make that. I’m not entirely certain where to get it, either…or what else to buy to make the exchange, worth it.

Anyhow…I do have better things to be doing. I’m struggling with feelings of guilt for avoiding them and a bit of concern over the fact that using my free time this way may need to be paid for, this Fall.

Hmm. Well. At least I feel like I’m reconnecting with who I actually am, outside of school…

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, jewelry, jewelry design

Returning to this blog. Intellectual Property re: beadwork.

I’m not entirely sure how to start this entry. It’s been well over two years since I used this blog. I’m nearing the end of a graduate program and having an extended period of “free time” for the first time in a while. It’s been a long route to getting back to doing what I’ve actually wanted to do.

I can’t at this point remember why it was that I migrated away from beadwork, though I am thinking that it was concerns over inadvertently violating intellectual property. I’ve gone over this elsewhere, and maybe I’ll eventually link it here, but I’ve gotten additional information (and experience) between my last post and now. It makes me feel better about beading.

Techniques can’t be copyrighted. I don’t think it matters if you learn the technique from a book or online or in-person. I believe the copyright is on the media in which the information is transferred (so, for example, the form of a paper pattern is copyrighted: what you learn from it — the information — isn’t, necessarily). There are community norms in place which help manage what information is used and how…but whether something violates copyright or not, is a grey legal area that takes a number of factors into account.

Technically, the form of intellectual property protection that it seems would even apply, where it comes to using knowledge of technique, is patent. So far as I know, patents are only granted to unique and innovative designs that would be hard to come to on one’s own.

It gets more complex than this; I am certain I can’t communicate all the intricacies of my current understanding, at this time. While there is some truth to the idea that a person wants to be relatively fluent in technique before beginning to sell — just for the sake of their own development (client pressure for more and more of the same can deter growth) — it’s not necessary to know everything, either. I don’t see the sense in prohibiting sales for reasonably unique — no — common work (not specific individual designs that others have taught you how to do), that would otherwise happen — which is what I felt was being promoted to me, which caused me to try and get out of the field.

By, “common work,” I mean work which doesn’t take a great deal of innovation to achieve; which those who know the technique could easily reproduce. And I mean work that isn’t a precise design that someone else taught you how to do.

I don’t mean that the work isn’t unique. There are a lot of unique ways to use common techniques. Most of the possible ways to use them, are. It’s the few ways through which people teach you how to do the technique, which I feel are questionable to duplicate for money; if not off-limits. That is a courtesy that I try to hold to.

Once you have enough practice at constructing basic pieces of jewelry, the techniques you know become a knowledge base you can draw off of when designing things that are your own. But if you don’t practice because you don’t want to follow a pattern, it’s learning the hard way. As you progress, though, there is a natural movement away from instructions and into simply playing and seeing what you can come up with.

At every step there are multiple directions one can take. Making one decision differently from the one in the instructions, or more than one…there’s no crime in that. It’s just that there are many more ways to make things that don’t work, than things that do. :) Experimenting is the only way to find original ways to put things together, though. And research is important to learn more techniques.

Aside from this, beadwork is a relatively expensive hobby. However…doing other things that share traits in common with beadwork (for me this has been painting and sewing) also aren’t the same. Painting requires some thought as to subject matter, even though it has heavy use of color in common with beadwork. Sewing is generally the manipulation of two-dimensional surfaces through the use of needle and thread, and can powerfully integrate color. Bead weaving also uses needle and thread, but in a different way.

In a class where I got to experience making 3-D computer models, I learned that a three-dimensional form with one pierced hole is called a, “torus.” In bead weaving and micromacrame, you’re working with threads, cord, and pierced shapes (though there are beads out now with up to four piercings; I don’t know what shapes with two, three, or four piercings, are called!). The threads (or lines, as I like to think of them) go through the holes of beads or around other threads which are already established in the pattern. There is a certain aspect of what feels like engineering (I use the term “engineering” loosely), in fitting beads together to make a design (whether that’s shaped or flat).

Also, there’s the possibility of using metals with beads and fiber, though these days that generally means wire and sheet. Casting is something else, which I have never carried through all the way. (I’ve made wax models, and I think I’ve poured the plaster, but I don’t think I went through burnout of the model, or the actual casting, let alone finishing.) Casting, though, is a way to make forms in metal which would be very difficult to fabricate, otherwise.

Still, though, silversmithing is not the same thing as beading, even though both can result in the production of jewelry.

I’ve also gotta put in a disclaimer, here. Those who know me from my personal blog, would know that I am planning to go into an Information profession. The preceding post is not legal advice. Even if I were a professional at this point, I would not be able to give legal advice as a member of my profession (as versus, as a person). I am not a lawyer or in any way a specialist in any legal system, so keep that in mind. All risk as to your own decisions lies with you.

What I’m describing here is part of my trying to figure out how to navigate intellectual property territory as a craft jeweler/handcrafter (my decision to adopt or own these term[s], are another post). Writing things out, in most cases, helps me get my thoughts together. The Intellectual Property aside is something I feel the need to record, as it’s been so prominent in my own decisions as to where to exercise my creative abilities. It also evolves as I age, and as I gain more knowledge and experience.

In that sense, these records are valuable to me, as I can see what I used to believe, and how that led to what I think, now. But I can’t predict what I will think, in the future. And I can’t say it won’t be better. So on that note, let me just leave you with the note that I know I’m fallible, and I know that my own understanding is a process, not a product.