Thursday, October 29, 2009

Prague, Beads, and Me

The first time I ever went to Prague, which was about ten years ago, I was ready to buy beads. And I looked everywhere for them, but all that was available was jewelry - there were no loose beads to buy anywhere in the city. Before I went home, I looked in the yellow pages and discovered that all the bead manufactures were located in a town about 100 kilometers from Prague.

The second time I went, several years later, I had a guide, and I asked her to arrange a visit to this town so that I could find beads. She made appointments at two manufactures and off we went for the day. Today this town is known to most beaders as THE source of Czech beads, but this was not the case when I went. Our first stop was a normal-looking house in the town which turned out to be the main office for a manufacturer of lampwork glass beads. The glassworkers, mostly women, worked at home - a cottage industry. We were allowed to select whatever we wanted from the stock on hand. (I was with a friend who was not a beader but whose sister-in-law was, and my friend kept saying to me, "do you think she'd like this bead? do you think she'd like that one?", to which I replied, "she'd love any and all of them"). That visit took care of all my available cash ...

Then we went to a factory that made pressed glass beads. There we were taken into the storerooms, handed plastic bags and scoops, and told to scoop whatever we were interested in right into the bags. At the end, the bags were weighed, and we paid by the kilo. This time, I had to make a detour to the bank for a cash withdrawal on my credit card (and it turned out that I had forgotten to sign my Visa card, which caused some difficulty at the bank ... ). When I got home, I had hours of sorting to do, because all the beads were mixed up in the bags, but I didn't care - I like putting things in order.

It was a truly marvelous experience! But by the third time I went to Prague, the Czechs were on to us, and loose beads were available in stores all over the city ... more expensive, less fun (not that that kept me from buying any but I didn't have to raid my credit card this time).

So these beads have been around for a few years now. I've always loved looking at them in their boxes, but only a few have actually made it to the finished jewelry stage. However, suddenly, they've been talking to me - it's their time to shine!

From top to bottom:
*Lampworked rectangles (blue, red, purple, amber) with color inserts, orange foil glass squares, bronze glass rondelles
*Clear glass pebbles with foil and amber inside, tortoiseshell glass cubes, little silver balls
*Pink/green and pink/orange square tubes, orange rectangles, green rounds, art class sections

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time to Rev Things Up!

Just this week, I received an invitation to do a small show in December - adding that to the two I already have on the schedule means that I have to get to work!!

I like starting with necklaces ... I'll get to earrings and bracelets later. In the mail several weeks ago came this Chinese chalk turquoise, dyed in many different colors. I played with various combinations of the colors, a small bead between each chip/nugget strung randomly with regard to color. I tried dark blue, but I really love black mixed with multi colors, so I decided to sort the colors and set off each one with a big black bead. And this is the result (before and after):

Stones are it at the moment, and they are big sellers ... on one of my first posts, I showed a necklace that had moakite - this one has moakite in three different forms. I like the effect of the ocher and mauve tones, even though they are not colors that I wear myself!

Bon weekend!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Technical Matters

I started with the red lampwork ovals from the latest batch of beads, and I took photos as I went along in the designing process ... but someone has been playing with the camera settings, and the photos were worthless. Without using a thousand words, I'll say that I first tried them with old Venetian glass beads in black with blue and gold accents ... okay but not spectacular - too much from another era. Then I wrapped a strand of golden seed beads around the necklace - it looked great lying on my worktable, but around the neck, it was really unimpressive. So I switched gears and found these terrific pink puff beads in the pink-and-purple box, and I highlighted everything with orange. Orange, pink, and red together - that has some punch!

I'm getting ready to do a couple of shows around the holidays. I straightened up my workspace, which will stay neat for about a week, but it is satisfying to start out with things in order.

I enjoy reading about how other beaders organize their beads and their work area ... I have all my beads in boxes, originally sorted by color. This technique is splendid, but it's only really useful when you're getting started. No matter how you arrange things, the day comes when you have no more room in the red box for red beads, so they have to go somewhere else, and eventually, there are boxes of mixes of all sorts! The rolling cart holds tools, threads, wires, tubes of seed beads, etc., and it's a great place for the laptop to live (it's an old computer - Windows 95 with no possibility of upgrading - but it's all I need to keep track of inventory and sales).

Then there are the books and magazines ... when I first started beading, I owned every book on the market, all 7 or 8 of them. I think Amazon has over 300 today! Ditto with the magazines. I let my subscriptions lapse last year, but I think this year for Christmas I might ask for one or two - I keep up with what's new on line, but the computer really does not replace poring over a glossy magazine.

The last clean-up task was what to do with the pile of broken beads. We recycle everything in our house, and these beads are no exception! One of my high school classmates does miniature furniture decorated with a variety of techniques. I selected all the glass beads, and I'm sending them off to her for whatever she is inspired to create. We'll do an exchange ... I'm looking forward to creating something just for her, too!