beading, craft, design, glass beads, seed beads

Priorities.

I’ve been looking through my backposts…and have found information on where, about five years ago, I thought I’d be going with my jewelry. What I’m looking at in particular is information I noted while in the Business program at a nearby Community College. There was a bead show around that time period, and accordingly, I was trying to find an identity so that I could focus my purchases.

In my area, the local Bead Society used to be closely involved in two annual bead shows: I believe this was the “Bay Area Bead Extravanganza!” (or BABE!) and the Whole Bead Show. BABE! ceased operations in 2017. The Whole Bead Show is still around, but isn’t convening in my area again, until this November.

These shows used to be spaced out so that one would happen approximately in May (I think? I keep getting March and May mixed up), and one in November. The BSNC (Bead Society of Northern California) would advertise both of these, but it seems there has generally been a downturn in interest, participation, or just awareness, within the last few years.

I have been thinking, however, that local sellers would seek alternate local venues. One of them, now passed for me, is Stitches West (the link will take you to their upcoming shows — they’re all over the country). The only reason I know about them is that Marion (of jewelsinfiber.com) had linked to them from her website.

I didn’t go to Stitches West, but from what I gather, it was basically focused around fiber arts (knitting, crochet, weaving, embroidery, etc…though that’s just what I gather as an uninformed outsider).

Anyhow, there’s a Bead & Design Show in Walnut Creek, in about three weeks. I missed Stitches West (which I would have gone to simply for C-Lon, which is silly, I know now), but I don’t plan to miss the Bead & Design Show. I would be going to this show majorly to visit one known vendor, which is the Garden of Beadin’.

I would link you to the Garden of Beadin’s website, but it lacks a bit of intended functionality (inability to delete all items from one’s shopping cart, at least); and I’m not sure if it was the source of some computer trouble a while back, now that I think of it. (This also could have been because of other online bead retailers’ websites, however: I know for a fact that at least one of them is giving me some gunk.) Because of this, it’s best to visit them in person. They also have a print catalog, which may take the place of a functional website…I’m not sure, as I haven’t seen it yet.

However: when you see their displays, you’ll know why people buy from them. They have a lot of Czech seed beads, and some Japanese seed beads, which are majorly the reason I’ve gone to them.

Now that the bead store, Baubles & Beads — formerly on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley — is closed, it’s not so easy to locally source Czech seed beads in size 6/0. I prefer the Czech 6/0 beads because they’re more donut-shaped than cylinder-shaped (like Japanese 6/0 seed beads are), so they are good for uses in which Japanese beads aren’t as aesthetically pleasant (like Right-Angle Weave).

There was also a store in Pinole called Peggy’s Perfections which would sell strands of Czech beads in different sizes. From what I can tell, I think Peggy’s business also went under, though I can’t say how long ago without doing some extraneous research.

I should note that I’m fairly certain these stores closed because of online competition, though when you’re buying beads to the tune of once a week, having a brick-and-mortar place to visit is important as well as convenient. Because so many local East Bay bead stores have closed, I’m kind of leaning towards telling you about a couple that I have visited.

Right now, Beadazzled on Solano in Berkeley is getting a lot of my time…and money, fortunately for the shop owner! I’m basically happy that there’s again someone in the Berkeley area who has decided to set up shop. They have a good selection of seed beads and some of the newer multihole beads, plus specialty ones like Czech O-Beads…and basically a wall of Czech glass. Because I’m into bead weaving and micro-macramé, I go there for things like these.

The other place that I visit occasionally is Blue Door Beads, in Piedmont. It’s been so long since I’ve been there that I don’t feel entirely comfortable giving too much of an idea of their stock, but I know they sell stone beads (moreso than Beadazzled), individually and in strands. I also got a lot of my 3mm and 4mm fire-polished beads from there.

There is also a shop in Concord called Just Bead It!, which (along with Beadazzled on Solano) sells the elusive 5mm Czech fire-polished rounds. At the time I last visited, they also had some of the rarer beads like Dragonscales (the glass ones)…though I still haven’t used mine. They’re tiny and delicate, and have tiny and delicate holes.

Anyhow, I started out this post talking about, basically, trying to find a brand identity, which I’m much, much closer to, now (if I have not already sussed out what I need to in order to begin). Over the years…I’ve found myself drawn most to beadweaving and micro-macramé. I also find wirework very much to be of use, however; some of my favorite creations could not have been done just using thread or cord (I may have to upload some photos here to help remind myself — I’m particularly thinking of earrings).

I may want to get into hot metalwork in order to do things like construct my own clasps…the thing is, the setup for that is so involved, and can be expensive and hazardous. The upshot is that metals sellers sometimes sell metal at market (commodity) value, meaning that it’s — in the long run — likely cheaper to make things oneself, than it is to repeatedly buy things like clasps and earwires (which can be outlandishly priced).

Right now I’m looking at trying my hand at bead embroidery (in the vein of Jamie Cloud Eakin), but to be honest, I doubt I have ever done it, and I don’t know if I’ll like it. If I don’t like it, I may be turning back to hot metalwork.

In a similar vein, I can see myself eventually getting a kiln to work with ceramics and Precious Metal Clay (PMC). The drawback to this is bi-fold: first, will I be allergic to PMC like I’m allergic to Fimo? second, the kiln — any kiln — is expensive. However, I already know that I have skill at ceramics. I also already know that I like ceramics.

The major thing to hold me back here, besides the capital investment, is the fact that I may have to deal with silica vapor from firing ceramics…which is not a good thing to breathe in, but I didn’t have a problem with it, in high school. Of course, I probably didn’t realize my own mortality in high school…

However, the possibility of making my own ceramic components is interesting…and possibly productive, in the future (especially as I’m into micro-macramé, at this point). After, that is, I figure out where to live.

Right now, for the short-term, I need to be looking at glass beads: particularly Czech glass beads, Japanese and Czech seed beads (particularly sizes 6/0, 8/0, and 15/0), druks, and likely crystals (like Swarovski, which stopped using lead in its lead crystal, and as such can’t be called “lead crystal” anymore). I should also be looking at cabochons — large and inexpensive ones — with which to practice bead embroidery.

All of that sounds solid. There’s also the issue, though, of color schemes. Right now, my color palettes lean towards blue, green, violet, brown, and some reds. Yellow and orange aren’t as present, though I do have a lot of nicely muted colors. When working with paint, I realized that sometimes a bit of a color which you didn’t think you needed was actually necessary for something to turn out the way you wanted. I should keep this in mind…

The reason for leaning away from gemstone beads is the fact that gemstone jewelry gets very expensive, very quickly. I don’t know if I have to say more on that…