craft, glass beads, seed beads

GAAAA…Washing beads.

So…in lieu of going to the Walnut Creek Bead & Design show this weekend, I found myself in San Francisco and took the opportunity to look inside General Bead, a store I’ve long known about and never visited. I have checked out their website, but I don’t remember having come away from it with a good feeling. I decided to look into their physical storefront today.

The store itself was on Minna, in the South of Market (SoMa) area. Minna in this area is kind of…run-down. The storefront almost seems to be off of an alley (the alley being Minna itself), in a way which very much reminded me of Mr. Zebra off of Telegraph in Berkeley (down to the spray-painted facade…and the local aroma, common to most urban areas here, which…anyone who lives here will know).

On going in, we were immediately greeted by an employee, who explained the method for ordering materials. This was kind. It was also nice that the store inside is not as modest as the storefront would suggest. In particular, they have a lot of Czech seed beads, in bags and in hanks. However, most of the stock is behind the counter and not accessible to the public. One fills out a form and the staff retrieve the items, which disallows close inspection prior to purchase.

It was noticeable that they had barely any multi-hole beads (though I did find some “Piggy” beads — just not in colors I would want), which is something that I can understand, as it’s difficult to tell which shape will be in demand at any one time (and new shapes are being continually introduced). I wouldn’t be surprised if trying to keep up with the multi-hole bead craze put some of the bead stores I’ve known (particularly Baubles & Beads, in Berkeley), out of business.

And, okay, I’m just going to put it out here right now: one of the packs of beads I got from them has what looks like part of the carapace of the abdomen, and two legs, of some kind of bug. I don’t want to post an image. I don’t want to remember it. At first I thought that it was a scale of a tiny pine cone. Then I identified two shed legs inside the package. So…thaaat is the gross part that I’ve been trying not to talk about so soon, but I might forget about it if I don’t mention it now.

But to be understanding, a lot of these beads came out of bulk packages behind the counter, in boxes, to be sealed up on exit in take-home packs…it would be incredibly easy for insects to live out their entire lives back there. Eating cardboard and stuff. Considering what the surrounding area looked like, I wasn’t entirely surprised…

That’s not to say that I didn’t like the experience, once inside the store. That’s to say that there are some bug issues, likely arising from the location.

I did take that hank of beads out (this was sealed at the store), and found a bunch of dust left behind inside the package. Then I went and got a fine plastic colander and bowl set that I purchased from the small Asian dollar store for $2 before it closed, and I used that as a large wash basin to wash the entire hank of beads. In Dawn dishwashing detergent. Twice.

I probably could have done more, but I passed the point of, “squeaky clean,” to the point that the oil from my hands began rubbing off on the beads. Because I am somewhat paranoid about germs…I didn’t want to wash these things until my hands cracked. There’s a fine line between being clean, and being so germ-phobic that one inadvertently exposes oneself to more than one has to.

These were rinsed many times, probably for about as long as I washed them, or longer.

Then I took them and put them in a little yogurt cup with some soft disposable hand towels, where they will be drying until at least tomorrow. I don’t recall having washed an entire hank of beads in this way in quite a long time, if I ever have at all. However, this is the third cup of beads I’ve washed, tonight.

Another was a set of what appear to be White Heart 4mm round druks from Michaels; that is, round beads with a white core (visible at the drill holes) and something red on the outside (red glass? a layer of dye?), which did bleed (brownish) a little. (Not all druks are white at the core; this is the first time I have bought a set like this, and it was accidental. I did buy actual solid-color transparent red druks, today. The thing is, it’s hard to tell that they’re red, because [as is my constant lament] the color is so intense. The White Hearts, on the other hand, are visibly red, which is why I got them.) I had set these aside primarily because I wasn’t sure if they were colorfast, but they’re seeming to hold up well.

The other wash round, this time, was two sets of Brown Iris Czech Ring beads (from General Bead), which I have since determined cannot be used with the inside of the hole, visible. This is largely because the beads themselves are not finished on the insides of the holes. The outside edges are fine. The inside edges are not. On top of that, I’ve noticed some crazing on the surface of most of these beads, probably from internal stress on the glass. They’ll just have to be used with that in mind. I have a use for them; I largely washed them because sometimes beads will just get dust on them, and it’s hard to see what they actually look like.

I’ve bought Ring beads on two other occasions, and can’t recall if they were similarly unfinished on the insides. The Olivine-color ones, which are 9.5x3mm and which I got a long time ago, are relatively fine on the outside and inside, and not crazed, though they also do look a little frosted and rough in the center. The Black ones I have, which are 8×2.5mm, look a little less finished on the inside edges, and I can’t tell if there is any crazing, because they’re black.

The ones I got this time, which are Brown Iris (basically a multicolored metallic finish, but more durable than Galvanized finishes at least were,at one time), are 7.5×2.5mm. Now that they’re drying, they don’t look too bad; rather like unfinished metal; but they still look unfinished, like the inside is not meant to be seen.

The big thing that I like about General Bead is its selection of size 6/0 Czech seed beads, which have been a bit difficult to find locally since Baubles & Beads went under. I believe the smallest pack of these available is 50 grams, which is about twice the size of a B&B vial (which I believe was 22 grams, though I’m not sure, especially as I don’t think it was noted at the store, and I don’t have a gram scale); the cost is also very decent, at around $3.50 for most of the 6/0 packs I bought. So that’s basically like paying $1.75 for a 25-gram tube (this could be the reason Yelp lists General Bead with only one “$” out of a possible “$$$$”).

The drawback I can see here is that a lot of their stock is either solid-color and opaque, or solid-color and transparent, without much funny surface treatment like Vitrail or Celsian or Apollo, or foil- or color-lining. Not that I miss the color-lining. :) However, transparent beads (even large ones) have a tendency to drop back in compositions. Solids tend to advance, as do metal-lined beads. But still, it is nice to have some subtle effects…like the Copper-Lined Rose Matte (Aurora Borealis?) beads I left there because I was pretty sure they were dyed.

I have read a lot of things about surface treatments not being permanent on Czech seed beads, however (and have had this issue before with Picasso beads, which are mottled from a surface treatment [some of which rubbed off, especially on my thread, while others did not]), so this could be a durability issue.

They did have some nice finds there, though, like bobbins of Super-Lon beading thread and Conso beading thread. I picked up a sample of each, to see if I like working with either. Also, there are odd sizes of Czech seed beads below size 6/0, almost down to the size of freakin’ sand; where you go, “how does anyone see these/fit a needle through these?” Their selection of druks and Fire-Polished beads is decent. They also have — man! — glass cabochons! In different colors! I picked up a few of these, just to practice bead embroidered bezels.

With that, I think I’m gonna go, for now. I realize I haven’t put up photos…I will either post a separate entry with photos, or come back to this entry and insert photos, later. I should have time tomorrow, before the sun sets.

beadweaving, craft, glass beads, organization, storage

Tiny baggies, and color scheme revision.

A bunch of time I spent today, taking beads out of vials and putting them into tiny plastic baggies. I am not sure I need to say this, but it’s much more space-friendly. And the baggies don’t smell bad (at least, not yet), unlike the vials I had them in before. (These weren’t bead-store vials, these were plastics-store vials.)

I am also making a move to repurpose the beads in my “pink” kit. The color scheme was just not exciting enough to motivate me to work on it…not to mention that the kit was at least two years old. And once I realized that I would not easily be able to incorporate the cabochon I had wanted to incorporate, into a Chevron Stitch and/or Netting collar — at least in the way I had wanted to — it kind of took the wind out of those sails.

Also…the color thing. There are so many more awesome color combinations possible than pink + purple. Right now I’ve kind of got a dragonfly-type thing going with violet, green, blue-green, copper, and some pinks. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to use all the colors within the same project, though — it may turn into two or more.

I know the initial reason to even try the original color combination was to use the “Peaches & Cream” daggers I got…probably a decade ago (it was a risk I took because the bead store I bought them from was good at supplying one-off glass combinations, never to be seen again), but the color scheme that I had to use them, was just way too delicate.

Right now, I’m also fairly distant from the last time at which I was interested in lacemaking…which I can see reflected in the last intended design for that piece. I’ve got some Galvanized (metallic) pinkish beads now that I didn’t, two years ago…if I use them as a mainstay, I may have something. They’re basically the color of freshly-cut copper…like the silvery-pink it is, before it even gets the chance to tarnish. (The color name is “Galvanized Sweet Blush”.)

I’ll need to at least acknowledge in the future that buying unusually-colored beads for the fact that they’re unusually-colored, means that they are likely to be design challenges (even though they will expand my current repertoire). That is part of the fun of it, but still, I would like to figure out just what colors are built to stay around, and which are trends. Sometimes this is easy, like cobalt blue versus matte neon yellow; most other times, it is hard to tell. I do still have some quite-old beads, though (1990’s vintage), that do “date” a piece if they’re too forward in it. I mean, they are from a 1990-era fashion color palette, which I have since learned is not neutral. :)

The other thing I realized today is that if I’m keeping my beads in transparent plastic storage, I will want to keep that storage out of direct sunlight. This is largely because the plastic these are made from (I believe this is unexpanded polystyrene) is likely to become brittle if I let direct sunlight routinely fall on them. I already have one case that is cracking, and I’m not entirely sure if it came that way or not (though I think it did).

Also, some but not all of the beads stored in transparent storage may fade on direct long-term exposure to UV light. This is more likely in dyed and color-lined beads. As I think I said a little earlier, dyes and color linings are ways to get colors in glass beads which are not otherwise easily formulated in solid-color glass. I’ve been veering away from using them, except for the fact that, well, there are effects possible with them that expand design possibilities.

Anyhow, I can store a lot more in the same space in little bags than I can in just vials, and for now I have enough. I don’t know what this collection is going to end up looking like, or if it’s going to be transitional forever. I’m thinking, now, that the latter may be the case (at least until I can find a storage system that reliably works). So…I mean, I may deliberately not want to purchase more of the “palette” style storage. I’m not too sure about that assertion, but it’s a serious possibility that I could find a more efficient, and longer-lasting, method.

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, glass beads

Getting back to one of those projects…

Despite feeling what seems like pretty severe eye strain (could this be what I’m interpreting as fatigue?), I’m up. I just put on my glasses, so we’ll see if that helps. I also took photos of the project I mentioned on March 4, then again on March 6, and didn’t show images of. This is largely because taking useful photos is easier when the sun is out, and because I am not really looking forward to dealing with camera focus issues and GIMP 2.

Then again, I am not really looking forward to paying over $100/year for Photoshop CC either (especially after my Elements program broke), so there’s that.

Anyhow, I can show you what I was working on.

Beaded samples

To the left, here, we have a photo of a few different samples of the same weave. If you’re versed in beadweaving stitches, this is basically an embellished double-needle ladder-stitch pattern.

That is, it’s a lot easier than it looks. Right now I have purchased some more clearly green beads (Chrysotile and Chrysotile Celsian), which I might be able to use with the Green Iris, to the left there. The thing is, the Chrysotile beads are both SuperDuos, whereas in all of these samples, the center row is made up of MiniDuos. MiniDuos are subtly smaller than SuperDuos.

This means that a bracelet which does not utilize MiniDuos will be a little longer…meaning the embellishments will likely sit a little differently.

I believe I majorly leaned off of further exploration of this pattern because of needing to clean up — and wishing to collect all my SuperDuos into one place. It’s cleaner, now…not totally clean, but there is free table space.

The only thing sitting between me and playing around with this some more, is studying more about Reference interactions…which I don’t want to do, which means I need to find something that I do want to do, besides sleep.

Maybe exercise?

personal

Sleepy.

Well — there’s not much to report, mostly because I got to bed so late last night that I ended up taking a five-hour nap, today. I did get to the bead store, but only found part of what I was looking for — which is okay, because I did find some stuff with which to experiment. I also have other sources.

The biggest thing I’m a little upset about is the fact that I lost the daylight hours in which I could have taken photos of the things on which I’m working. (I have recently found that it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition; don’t be surprised if it happens, but right now, it’s mostly outside of my comfort zone.) :)

I have recently found that going to bed early and then waking early is…a relatively good thing. Going to bed at 10:30 PM, for example, and then rising at 5:30 AM is doable, even if it looks extreme when I write it down. Not only do I get extra time so that I can avoid rushing to start my day (and can take a shower without rushing, before work), but I have the opportunity to get more hours of sleep, if I need them. I also have the ability to brush and floss my teeth and do the whole pre-bed routine, without worrying about a time crunch.

Right now, I’m sleepy again, and am heavily considering just going back to bed. This is amazing.

I might as well set the intention, as well, to start cataloging my beads in spreadsheet form. Whether this will make it to a database is yet to be seen…

craft, organization, storage

Disorganized, despite it all

Yes, I spent at least 20 or 30 minutes tonight looking around for a vial of Crystal Celsian MiniDuos that were right in front of me, on the table. DIS-ORGANIZED. Or maybe just absent-minded. (Google “Crystal Celsian” to see photos of this surface treatment; it’s basically a light transparent gold.)

I’ve recently been dealing with the use of specialized bead shapes — SuperDuos, MiniDuos, 3mm Magatamas, 3x4mm Drops, O-beads, and Miyuki Spacer Beads (as versus Toho Demi Rounds, which is what I thought I had, last time I wrote).

I believe that I’m becoming interested, now, in more and different things, than the main design I worked out last. I suppose I did make two samples, one trial and two final versions…though I need to replace the clasp on one (the blue one), and I have identified at least one more colorway I could work through. Well, two: one in rose and green (like the second sample I made), and one in magenta and teal.

Yeah, that sounds kind of close, but in one, the pink dominates; in the second, the teal does. Right now, I’m interested more in the dusty rose one, as it looks less like a daisy chain than I believe the teal one may work out to appear. It has to do with color placement.

I should note the C-Lon colors I used in the previous three; the first two (Capri Blue 6/0s plus 4mm Green Iris fire-polished rounds) were “Eggplant”; the third was “Persian Indigo”. That’s in case I need to replace these spools, if the colors are still being made. The color was on a sticky band on the outside of the spool — designed for identification among many similar spools — not designed to be kept.

I’m trying to figure out a scalable method of reliably storing these things, and figuring out a way to keep notes on what I would otherwise keep together in a kit for future use. The disadvantage of kits is the fact that when something’s stashed in a kit (like a vial of SuperDuos I was looking for tonight), it’s not findable — unless there is a designated place for that kit. Like a special, labeled drawer.

Right now I have a toolbox with — well, tools — but it is not large enough or organized enough to reasonably take my beads.

I’m thinking of putting what I can, into my flat storage. There’s not much point to my keeping my flat archives in that space and losing the use of it, when I could be putting actively used materials in there. There is the fact that if I did get a job in an Academic Library, and did go into making art at the graduate level, I might want some of this stuff as portfolio material (if I tried to get into an MFA program). But — not everything is portfolio-quality material.

At this point, I know that it would be best to store beads of the same shape and size, together. When I was younger, I mostly collected size 11/0 beads; they’re about 2mm long (smaller sizes have higher numbers; thus, 15/0 is smaller than 11/0, and 8/0 is smaller than 6/0). This is…very small to me, now. As an 11-18 year old, 2mm is fine. As someone whose eyes are aging, it’s not the size I want to work at, unless there actually is a reason for it.

That makes me sound kind of old. Not that there’s anything wrong with old (I prefer myself at this age to myself with less experience and understanding), but still. I’m watching everyone around me aging, and I’m physically aging, as well. What I mean, partially, is that when you’re small and your vision is better (like when you don’t routinely get eye strain and unclear vision from not wearing your glasses), tiny beads don’t seem so tiny.

Mostly, when I’m working with micro-macramé, I’m not going down to 11/0 size beads, even though it is possible with standard C-Lon cord. A lot of that is just a convenience factor. When being threaded, 11/0 beads tend to flex the C-Lon and then launch onto the floor, where they bounce and roll and get underfoot: that’s a risk of broken glass, if they’re lost. Beadweaving with 11/0s is a different matter, mostly because it’s a very different process; needles don’t spring the beads away. (I draw the line at sizes smaller than 15/0. [I wonder what it would be like to be nearsighted–!])

I’ve done a lot towards the end of organizing vials and hanks of beads, moving through storage solution after storage solution. First it was plastic shoeboxes; then milky plastic stacking organizers; then tubs from IKEA; then free-standing vial holders (which are still useful); now clear drawers and sampling vials (also useful). The major issues are the fact that most of these storage solutions are temporary, in that they stop being available; and that the level of use of each of these sizes and colors and shapes of bead really should have a say in how I store them.

I’m just not sure how to implement that — especially as mixing the beads up encourages “happy accidents” which would not otherwise occur. There’s the possibility of building a database…which I’m probably more prepared to do than most people, but that’s — seriously! — a lot of thought and a lot of work.

I also don’t know if I can reasonably reformat a database that I create and then can’t properly delete (this has to do with table dependency…not to bore you with the details, but tables [think spreadsheets, but fragmented according to purpose, and more organized] must be created and deleted in proper order to make sure things will function or be deleted properly, or that a table can be created without error, in the first place. This is part of relational database design and implementation, one of the only classes to recently frighten me).

The possibility of using a purchased database system (right now, I’m thinking of Access, because it likely natively integrates Excel tables; but Access likely doesn’t look as good as, say, MariaDB, in a tech environment) has occurred to me, but the cost there is even more prohibitive. There are likely one or more free and/or open-source solutions that don’t involve cloud storage (I’m looking at some, now), but I’d have to be on top of my programming and querying skills to actually make that work.

I could do it. I just don’t want to (right now), because I’m not confident enough. It would be something that would make me a good candidate for certain jobs, though…

Then there is the question of what to do with the nine left-over beads from the 1990’s (fashion faux pas?) which I just used in a bracelet, or the eight rondelles that are taking up space in their own vial which is way too big for them, but the tiniest I have. I’m heavily considering moving back to tiny baggies; the environmental impulse in me just hates it because I know all plastic eventually disintegrates, and there’s no saving tiny baggies that shred from age. They have a lifespan — after which, they’re useless and basically just choke sea life.

Of course, there’s also the question of what to do with your vials, once the lids begin to crack and smell and decay. It’s not much better. At least the baggies don’t give off volatile compounds when they get old…

Right now I have six sets of clear plastic drawers (one here is empty; the third, I just began to use; the other two — I don’t recall what’s happening with them. Oh, right. One of those has hanks of Czech seed beads; the other has unique-to-the-collection beads, like multi-hole beads that wouldn’t fit with the other Czech glass). There are also at least four sets of small vials in transparent cases. I mostly use the latter as a way of visualizing color combinations, and have been using the beads from the vials. I have not had to refill one yet. I’ve also been reusing older, now-empty clear vials that came with purchases, which are still functional.

I guess in this age, mitigating waste is a better option than mindlessly throwing things away. It would just be nice if there were a convenient, inexpensive, transparent, and scalable design solution that involved something that wouldn’t outlive me.

But yeah, I just described plastic…and the main drawback to using it. I’m confident something will eventually be developed, but it’s not here, right now.

Well, tomorrow I have three main things to look for at the bead store, and one optional:

  1. brass toggle clasp
  2. clearly green drop beads (3x4mm)
  3. green SuperDuos or MiniDuos.
  4. (optional) brown fire-polished beads

I think I can get the rest of it through other sources. I’m seriously considering selling, again, if not looking forward to, or planning on it…

…and none of this is going to help the fact that making designs that are actually creative and unexpected, comes only from getting a bunch of stuff out so I can see it all at once. (“Yes, a bracelet came from this disaster zone. Why?”)

beading, beadwork, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads

Hyperfocus.

I wanted to write this last night, but by the time I was willing to call it quits, it was 2:30 AM. Also, as I have an unofficial policy of not taking photos of my work after sundown…sleep was preferable to staying up further into the early morning. I’ve had severe problems with sleep dysregulation before, and I have responsibilities, so taking care of myself has to come in sometime (even if I’m hyper-focused!).

Last night, I learned a number of things…the largest of which, relates to my preferred color schemes…the second largest of which, encompassed two rules:

  1. Don’t tie off a macramé pattern directly to a clasp, or you get the disadvantage of built-in stiffness on the connection. Tying off to a metal ring, then attaching the ring to another ring, alleviates the stress on that join.
  2. Don’t cut the excess cord off of knots before sealing those knots, first. Otherwise, your knots will unravel and your work will start to fall apart (at the very end!).

Today, I’ve basically been working all day at making jewelry. My folks call it a, “hobby,” moreso than a, “side hustle.” Is a hobby this serious? I don’t know.

About the color combinations…I’ve found that I want to stay away from monochromatic color schemes. This was surprising. In the past — as a youth, I had been much more hesitant about using color, so it would be more likely for me to stick with blues and greys. Hematite (an iron ore) was a particular favorite material, as it easily integrates with silver, has a nice weight and heft, plus a gunmetal metallic luster, and has been relatively inexpensive (for a natural stone).

It was relatively amazing that I was able to figure out the optimal pattern for this bracelet and write it down and then follow it. When I look at the knotting pattern on the sample I was working out initially, I can see it was trial-and-error; all over the place. I had to unravel a good amount of the work I did when I first started yesterday. This is because reversing the three-knot pattern (which reverses between every bead) essentially messes up the spacing of the beads.

Although I’ve made it to the point where I use some colors more enthusiastically than others, I also have certain hues that I am more attracted to, than others. Looking at my little bead palette things, which I’ve posted about before on this blog (scroll down), I see a lot of warm blues, greens, and violets, ranging into violet-pink…not so many yellows or oranges — or the browns that I intensely want to use. I already know that I’m not even trying to use reds, because reds are generally so intense that they overpower everything else. Pinks are also difficult to use, because of the fact that they are often either dyed (thus possibly not lightfast), or because they tend to be extremely pale.

The first trial version of this bracelet style, I made in a color palette extremely similar to the one above, but I used Capri Blue and Capri Blue Silverlined (S/L) for two of the three 6/0 bead colors that I used. The second trial bracelet (above) used Transparent Emerald (a blue-leaning green) in place of the Capri Blue S/L, and because of the lack of silver lining in the bead hole, the green falls back much more and becomes very subtle.

I’m planning to remake the first trial. I basically ruined it by cutting the threads before sealing the knots, which caused the piece to begin to unravel. I also tied it directly to the clasp, which I shouldn’t have done. I have three options:

  1. Wear the bracelet until it randomly falls apart and then remake it
  2. Cut the bracelet apart and re-knot it properly
  3. Buy another string of 4mm green iris fire-polished Czech rounds, give up the extra gold-luster 8/0s, and make a duplicate.

Although S/L beads are eye-catching in the store, they can overpower a piece if used indiscriminately. When I was a youth, I would use a lot of these, and so maybe it’s this that causes me to look at some bead combinations and think that they look like something I would have made at 16 years old.

I’ve also found that I have a tendency to like luster beads, especially Gold Luster; that opaque beads are much more useful than I would expect, advancing in compositions; that matte beads are welcome contrasts to metallic and glossy beads; that iris beads can be the foundation of a piece; and that transparent beads often fall back in a piece, while S/Ls advance.

Cobalt Blue is also extremely difficult for me to use, on par with red, because of its intensity and nearness to violet.

On top of all this, I find myself hesitant to use dyed and color-lined beads, because I’m pretty sure they’re categorically susceptible to fading (even though many colors cannot be made without these options).

I need to keep a journal on this information, including information about knotting patterns. Right now, my design notes are on temporary papers. I need to do something better.

There’s more I have to say — in regard to using SuperDuos and MiniDuos — but it will have to wait for another night. I’ve worked out two more swatches of a pattern than my initial two so far, using a double-needle technique which is much easier than I predicted (with the main issues being accidental loops, and going through the right piercings in the right directions). The third and fourth iterations (using Magatamas, Fringe beads, and Demi Round and O-beads) are very interesting, but I don’t have photos, right now.

What I can say is that for some reason, beadweaving is less stressful for me than micro-macramé, likely because I’m abrading my hands less (even though I did give myself a pretty nasty scratch by storing a needle in the fabric of my pants)…

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.

IMG_4100w
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.

IMG_4103w
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.)

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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).

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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.

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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.