Today started early for me. I actually got up and started back in on homework at 5:30 this morning, as it was predicted that temperatures would get above 100° F, today. (For the rest of the world, that’s about 38 C.) We actually had to have a safety inspection…which was fairly disturbing, but it could have been worse. The inspector came just as I was about to lie back down, which means that I didn’t get back to sleep, today. Not that I didn’t try…
There has, accordingly, been a lot of air circulation through the house. It hasn’t been very uncomfortable for me, though, and I’m not entirely sure why…except possibly that it isn’t as uncomfortable as exercising, or typing with my computer at the wrong height. The humidity isn’t too bad now, either (Hawaii can be worse), and I’m already used to being up at night and before dawn.
Because I was working on classes early this morning (I actually got a lot done) and it was way too hot to use my computer (plus we had been asked to limit electricity use until after 10 PM), I ended up going through beads when the sun was up.
It started with cleaning off the Blue Iris beads I got in the post from three weeks ago, “Too Much Analysis!”, and realizing what was wrong with the bad ones. I realistically have no idea what specifically happened to them, but they looked abraded and corroded at the same time — like they had been rolled and crushed, and then left to oxidize. The good part was that I had ordered 200, and only had to cull out 7. That’s about a 96.5% success rate. I also paid about $3.20 for 193 beads (at about $0.017 per bead [before shipping]), which — given that these were the only beads I had any problem with, and I’m hoping I don’t have to worry about toxicity (I had minor contact with the water + detergent I used to wash them, and no skin reactions) — I can accept.
I mean, seriously. That’s…that’s seriously good. And I’m really glad I got a cheap plastic colander/bowl set from the Japanese convenience store before they went out of business. (I don’t use this for food, by the way; just work.) If I’m willing to plan ahead and wait, that is, I could see myself using this service more.
Right now, I have a new system in place for my metal components (all base metal is in one set of drawers, divided into [red-brown] nickel-free brass + copper; [grey-white] pewter, silver-plate and silver-fill; and [yellow] brass/bronze/gold-plate; with sterling silver and gold-fill in a separate set), I can actually fit what I need to into my toolbox, and I have a number of projects I can either start or continue when I want to.
(It is rather telling when you have project kits dated 2011, that you never finished…)
I also found an 18g sterling wire which has to be from high school or before, with which I can mount the pearl that I damaged. No, I don’t know what I’m doing (this is my first half-drill mount), but the pearl’s already seen better days, and it won’t get fixed at all if I don’t try. If I can mount it the way I want to, the damage won’t even be apparent, and I’ll be able to keep the pendant.
What I’ve just realized, just now, is that a lot of my size 11° seed beads are likely tied up in “project” groupings, which is why they weren’t in the organizer when I checked. That does make me feel better. (I was wondering where they went!)
One of the other things I did: I began to separate out colors which were near-duplicates (aquas, violets), too pale and/or dyed a couple of decades ago and faded (aquas, greys, pinks), or too bright (reds, intense opaque red-orange, intense opaque yellow). Most of these are Czech; some are Japanese. I haven’t gotten rid of these (they may be useful where it comes to size substitutions or if I want a bland bead), but I have put them out of the way so that they don’t confuse me when I’m designing. Unfortunately, now I’m ending up with the modular-drawer equivalent of the, “junk room,” where objects of the past fade into obscurity, incorporated by reference but not by sight.
Wow. That turned sad.
Because my favorite colors have historically been violet and teal, I have a lot of violet and teal beads…and it doesn’t help to have three hanks of beads which are near-duplicates of each other in ready storage, just because I made some poor buying decisions in my teens. As things stand, I can already see a lot more contrast in hues (colors) and values (lightness to darkness), which should help.
I’m hoping that having a more active palette will help me use the beads more than I have been, recently. I’m trying to break out of the habit of sticking with the same colorways, because it is uninspiring when everything looks similar. It’s risky when they don’t, but that’s the fun in it, isn’t it?
I’ve just realized that it’s 12:45 AM. I’ll try and get some sleep, but I’m not guaranteeing anything. ;)
Apparently, I need to give myself a break, sometimes…though it’s difficult when a person has become accustomed to having deadlines. Particularly…it would likely be actually good for me to get back to my beads and sewing. And/or, you know, writing non-academic things.
That kind of explains why I’m back here, today.
Over the weekend…was it the weekend? The days are blurring together now, but some time last week, I found out my hard drive was failing. (They only have a lifespan of 3-5 years, according to the Web.) Two days after that and we get the replacement; and then D and I have to install the thing and transfer everything over to the new drive…which is done. It just stressed me out for pretty much three days straight, and I still haven’t fully recovered where it comes to doing things with my brain.
That is, it’s difficult to get back to having to think about and analyze things, again, which is tough when I have classes to get back to and deadlines to meet. But the hard-drive thing had to be done…pretty much immediately, if I didn’t want to have to use other machines. I’ve done it before; I just don’t like to.
As a surprise, today I did get a shipment of beads which I had stopped waiting for (they came from the Czech Republic, which has not been shipping things out promptly for at least a couple of weeks because of COVID-19)…that was fun. :) My spreadsheet says I ordered these at the beginning of last month. According to the Web, it can take up to 21 days for things to get here from Czechia, and there was about a month’s delay on top of that, which…is understandable. It actually got here about a week earlier than I would have expected, if I had expected it. I had just figured it would be a nice surprise, if and when it did come.
I did get one set of beads which is pretty much unusable due to what appears to be corrosion of the Blue Iris coating; like they have been rolled in cement, almost. I’m not even going to try to save these with washing; it may be more hazardous than it’s worth (these beads cost me less than $4, total, and everything else was fine). D joked that I should send them back.
Iris colors in particular — I mean, they’re beautiful, but they’re one of the coatings that I’d have some concern about when it comes to toxicology, just from unverified information I’ve seen online. There is a reason why these things (at least, the cheaper ones) generally say that they aren’t for use by people under 14 years old…though I started using them at 11-12, at the oldest; we didn’t know any better.
I know it took me some time to graduate to the more expensive beads, but I am not sure when, entirely, the switchover from dyed glass fabric-/craft-store beads, to glass beads from bead stores, conventions, and online, took place. I am pretty sure that I can recall going to a bead store at 14 at the oldest, though: I remember the clerk at the snobby (it was, I’m not kidding) bead store, keeping a close eye on myself and M. I was in high school, then…I recall making a necklace with a pendant from there which ended up chipping one of my front teeth, in my 9th grade locker room.
They’ve since gone under. I think the multi-hole bead trend (“which beads do we stock???”), along with open favoritism in customer service, high rent, a sparsely populated web page, and customer realization that it’s hard to make a living off of beading, did it. (I hesitate to say, “intellectual property issues,” but that’s there, too: both in using widespread/basic patterns that many people could spontaneously come up with, and in having unique designs used without permission.)
Going online sounds so easy, until it comes to actually doing it. But there is an opening here for people who know Web Development, obviously. I don’t see the trend decreasing in the near future, and actually, this was a secret reason why I took Web Design in Grad School. Of course, there’s a lot more I’d need to learn if I wanted to become a Web Developer…and I think I mentioned somewhere else that I don’t think I’d be able to maintain my initial interest (to keep myself abreast of new technology) for the rest of my life. Not keeping on top of new technology and being a Web Developer at the same time, sounds…like a very bad combination.
Anyhow, getting the beads today, was nice. It reminded me that I have a legitimate opening to sell my work. During this time while I’m in classes and purposefully staying away from other people, there actually is a way I can earn income. It just isn’t my primary career path. It is, however, something I’m skilled in. I have pretty much everything I need, now; and what I don’t have, is easy to get. There is a constraint now, however, in that I’m operating from a hypothetically closed set of resources. Like I would be if I were actually operating a business, and not just trying to break even with my externally-funded hobby.
I mean, you know, there’s that added financial stress now…and I haven’t even begun working, yet. Before, it just would have been nice not to lose money; now, it’s don’t waste your time and investment! Of course, any income from this beyond breaking even, I could see as positive, so long as my living expenses are taken care of. If I were seriously doing this and living on my own…pricing would be a serious issue.
Of course, there is also the question of who will be buying jewelry at a time like this. But then we could also question, who is going out at a time like this, and obviously, the number is greater than I’d expect.
I actually have started a writing project, but I’m concerned that by working on it, I’m resigning myself to the fact that I’m going to die one day. Which of course, I will, unless I’m another Henrietta Lacks (which I’m not sure anyone would want to be). But the concern is about mortality (mine and everyone else’s) being an immediate issue. That kind of sets up…some difficulty, where it comes to recording my own thoughts. But I guess most people don’t like to think about that, so I’m probably not alone.
The other thing I had been doing for my sanity at home, was sewing. I can also get back to that, as it doesn’t require a lot of intellectual/analytical input, and it helps me feel helpful. Probably I also discouraged myself by trying to improve on my design, however. If my state makes it illegal to go outside without a mask (and it looks like we’re going in that direction, now)…I am going to have to make more.
Yeah, I just should. Building up the mask stash should be #1 priority, with #2 being jeweling, and #3 being authorship. Where it comes to work, aside of my classes and my Portfolio.
I recently completed a necklace, an 18″ design made of fire-polished glass, MiniDuos, 11/0 seed beads, and 11/0 Delica seed beads (which are slightly smaller). To create the structure of the piece, it was important to have a variety of bead sizes. I strung it on C-Lon Micro, using a tatting (shuttle lace) technique to make a button loop (which was actually…exciting; this is part of the reason why I learned tatting), and then running both lines through a coil of gimp and a shank button, before threading it back into the work, tying it off, and cementing the lines.
I was happy to get back into this — and to see how far I’ve come, since the time I started (25 years ago!). Especially as I had experienced doubts about my ability to see a project through to completion.
The design took about two days to work out (and a number of different tries before I got the loop right), but I’ve realized that since I was using standard-sized materials, I can echo the design in different colorways…and not necessarily charge an exorbitant rate for the time it took for me to work out the pattern, the first time. I guess that’s what happens when you know it’s okay to re-use past work, as versus aiming to make everything unique. (Uniqueness will still come; it’s just that it isn’t necessary to kill the seed you’ve planted, after its first fruiting.)
I also now have a project box which began with the thought of the Aquamarine and Pink Botswana Agate beads. It expanded far beyond what I had expected, and uses no stone in this final form (as versus another final form).
Reasons to go on
I have also remembered some more reasons to sell jewelry. For one thing, I like to make jewelry so much that were I to keep it all, it would be in excess of what I would use. I’ve also realized that having made the pattern — or structural form — for this piece, it gives me the ability to expand on that initial trial and work a number of different projects in different colorways, extremely easily.
There might not be justification for that if I were just making things for myself, but if I’m doing it because I want to do it, not just to decorate myself (that is, if I’m enjoying the process more than the product), it probably doesn’t hurt to sell some of the extras (or, “experiments;” or, “trials;” I don’t know if anyone would really want to hear they’re buying an “experiment,” although that’s basically what a lot of — maybe most of — art is), and recoup some costs.
I can also then try making different decisions at specific points in the pattern, and by doing that, develop derivative works, or families of pieces which work along different creative pathways. This lets me expand the initial idea into a family in which each member is a record of a different, iterative thought (or design) process.
Also: I’ve been working on the design of another piece; using Smoky Quartz, the Pink Botswana Agate, and Hematite. (The Aquamarine is too pale to work in this scenario.) I did purchase some sterling bead caps…which, now that I see them, I realize are fairly expensive, for what I got. I suppose it could be worse: I could have gotten the sterling version of what I already had in pewter, and paid around $5 per cap for 6-8 repeats (each containing two caps), making the cost at least $70 (with tax and shipping). For 12-16 caps. That are tiny. Which I think I would have had to buy in multiples of 6. The silver isn’t even the focal point.
No, that…that wasn’t happening.
The bead caps I had which were pewter…I honestly don’t know where the rest of these guys are, but they’re likely locked up in projects which I won’t wear and have not worn. (When you’re a beginner, it isn’t unusual to make things you won’t wear…or to buy things you think look great, which look gaudy at a later point in time.) Originally, they weren’t expensive — they were from a fabric or craft store. It’s just that the exact same design — the exact same design — is in sterling silver, and I can’t find the pewter version, anymore.
The ones I did get were close to $22 for eight…meaning they’re $2.75 each. That’s fine if you’re buying a couple for earrings, but if you need 7 repeats at a minimum for an 18″ necklace, each 2.5″ repeat using two, and you have to buy in multiples of 8: 16 caps are $44. Before tax and shipping. That still kind of makes me clench my teeth, especially when they’re so tiny, but…well, hopefully, they won’t tarnish — which is the only reason, aside from safety and allergy concerns, to get Sterling. Granted, those safety and allergy concerns are likely well-placed.
(Maybe I should have taken advantage of that recent Trunk Show…)
In any case, the fifth reason to sell things is the process of buying strands of beads to make into things, and then as you’re assembling, you realize that you’re only using like 1/5th of the strand…meaning you have 4/5ths unused. If you aren’t just making for yourself, you can make for someone else, and have fun at the same time.
So anyway, to detract from the frustration of having spent so much on so little, I also did purchase a bunch of little 11/0 Toho beads in order to gain a bulk discount (which…unfortunately, did not include free shipping). Buying seed beads online is often…more difficult than doing it in person. It’s because you’re depending on photography to give you an accurate idea of color…and as I learned in Intro to Graphic Design, neither computer screens nor print can replicate all of the colors we can see (“color gamut” is the name for the range each technology can produce).
So…when buying a complicated color that you know is probably complicated, because it has a name like Cosmos or Polaris…online…you just pretty much know the color is a best guess.
I have a set of four vials which are likely not to make it into any work, though. Three look like they’re colored with Cadmium salts (opaque yellow, orange, and red-orange [see right]). I got them because I realized that my own color gamut did not include these colors, and hence I was limiting my own creative options by not including an entire spectrum. I can somewhat see why I don’t use these colors now, though: they’re just too basic.
Also, I should let you know that the above photo of those opaque beads between yellow and red, didn’t turn out with true color…I am not entirely sure why (if it was because they were too bright, or the background fooled my camera), but I don’t feel like tinkering with the settings right now.
The fourth vial, I suspect I have used before, and that it faded (Aqua, Gold-Lined). I do have photos of it, but none turned out too well, as I didn’t unwrap them (I could use store credit, but then again, it costs money to ship them back. There’s always the Center for Creative Re-Use).
While looking for someone else’s repair projects, I did find a number of stashes of beaded jewelry I made while a child and teen…which had some seed beads included which are a pale, translucent bluish grey, now. I do see that it appears they were matte; also silver-lined. I don’t know if I should settle for glass jewelry being pretty in the moment and not lasting, or if I should really avoid things I know might fade.
However, the set of beads I was using at the time (from the fabric/craft store or the bead store), I no longer recall. For years, into high school, even, I played around with Darice seed beads (which I wouldn’t recommend for professional work…but as I was a teen just experimenting, that was something else).
I doubt that I was thoroughly using the more quality stuff from the bead store, at that time, given that I recall being in 9th grade and having a necklace made of Darice beads, dental floss, and a lampwork pendant from the bead store, explode from around my neck one day in the locker room. (This was after it had hit me in my teeth, which is where I think a mysteriously missing chip from a front tooth may have gone.)
I knew fabric-store seed beads to have color that rubbed off on my fingertips; which is probably why I have a (likely unfortunate) bias against dyed glass, at this point. Yes, I know the lilac (a.k.a. Silver-Lined Milky Amethyst) in the fourth image above is likely dyed. I also suspect those beautiful Gold Luster Raspberry beads above them to be dyed. I just like them too much to care.
I should say that Darice isn’t all bad. They have some storage solutions which I do appreciate. And certainly, they are an inexpensive entryway into the craft, which in my case was invaluable — at least because I’ve continued to do this for 25 years. It’s just one of those things where once you get your sea legs as a beadworker, you find other options, and learn ways to gauge benefits and drawbacks.
Right now, I’m trying to figure out what to do with this little necklace (see above) — keep it as a keepsake? Give it to someone little but over 14 years of age? ;) (All of this stuff says not to deal with it if you’re under 14 years old, likely because it could interfere with a child’s development…though I have been using these since I was 11 or 12. Not to say that anyone should.) This thing is basically Amethyst, Labradorite (a flecked grey stone with blue internal flashes), Hematite (gunmetal grey), dyed freshwater pearl, and Swarovski Crystal, in a Y-necklace form. It’s only 14″ long. I don’t remember if I used Sterling wire or craft wire, but it’s still shiny (the clasp is not).
I’m still not sure about whether it would mean more to me to keep it, or to someone else, should I gift it. The deal with the latter is that if I give it up, it could easily be destroyed (or pawned), and I’ve got to grapple with whether I’d be okay with that. I’m thinking the answer is, “no,” which tells me what to do, there.
Anyhow, creating this entry has been a nice thing for me, if a bit of an obsessive project: I haven’t used my camera or image-editing software, in a while. It’s nice to know the computer is of more use than as a notepad. :)
Speaking of which, I did find my old project journal. I needed to make more drawings than I did. When the earliest entry is in 2010, maybe — back in 2010 — I could have remembered what the project looked like. But. In 2019, almost a full decade later? It doesn’t do me a great deal of good to note which beads I used, without images to show the way in which I used them.
That…could be a good use of this blog. Photographs are easier to work than design sketches; I’d just have to remember that this is public, and that I am showing my process.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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).
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.
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…