Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Local Bead Stores

Wow, I feel like I haven't posted here in ages! I have really been enjoying spending time with my husband again...and getting used to living together again and in a much smaller space! And I have been spending most of my free time checking out my new surroundings...walking around Ann Arbor during the day and beading in the evenings while my husband is at work.

Unfortunately, most of my current beading projects are for challenges that have reveal dates, so I can't post any photos yet. I am working on two projects for the Beading Babes Project #5, and I just ordered a kit from Amy at Amybeads for her "Summer Lovin" challenge...can't wait to get that in the mail!

But what good is a blog post about beads without beady photos? I will have to search my folders for some pics to add here!

The weather here is so nice that I can actually spend time outside during the day, which is completely foreign to me...I am just not a hot weather, sun loving girl!

But it's still spring here...and I mean it's a real spring, with days in the 60's to 70's and nights in the 40's, while I know it's already in the high 80's and 90's in Virginia...I love the weather here and I really look forward to a real winter!

The beginning of the last real snow we had in Virginia...I believe it was the winter of 2009/2010. Between Dec 18th and March 1st we got over 6 feet of snow...it was beautiful.

Last week while wandering around the city I found another bead store...this one is called Findings and it's about the same distance from my house as The Bead Gallery, but in the opposite direction.

Both bead stores have a diverse selection and both have things that the other does not...but neither one of them will be able to replace the seed bead selection from my LBS in Charlottesville, Studio Baboo. They have almost all the colors and they sell them in 28 gram tubes for (mostly) excellent prices!

The Bead Gallery is set up in an old 3 story Victorian house in Downtown Ann Arbor. The top level has a boutique store and the lower levels are the bead store and workshop space...so the whole building is pretty cool with the bead store having lots of different rooms/areas for beads and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

Seed Bead Room in The Bead Gallery. Photo from The Bead Gallery website.

They have an amazing selection of Czech and Chinese Glass and Crystal Beads, Vintage Glass and Lucite beads, and of course they have Swarovski Crystal in abundance: bicones, rounds, cubes, pendants, rivolis and various other stones and chatons...even some vintage selections.

They have a huge assortment of thread, silk, wire, cord, leather, ribbon and other stringing materials...lots of Nymo but no One G or KO thread! And they have a very diverse selection of tools and supplies, they even sell glass rods for lamp workers...but the only needles they stock are the multi packs by Beadsmith, no Pony, John James or Tulip needles!

In the seed bead room there is a decent assortment of Japanese seed beads in sizes 15/0 to 6/0, including Delicas...and they even have a good selection of Czech seed beads in various shapes and sizes.

But they don't list the manufacturers of their Japanese seed beads...and I really hate that! They also sell them in really small tubes, 5 to 10 grams for sizes 15/0 and 11/0, and 14 grams for size 8/0 and 6/0 .

And I am very disappointed to say that they only have about 100 colors...with very few metallic or matte metallic colors, which I consider to be my basic stock! They don't carry the full line of Delica colors either, but they probably have at least half of them.

However they do offer some excellent classes. While they have a small beading area in the back of the bead shop, they have an entire ground floor workshop space for lamp working, silversmithing and other classes requiring major tools and equipment. I definitely plan to take some classes there when I can afford it!

Findings is located in a strip mall, so the shop doesn't have quite as much character as The Bead Gallery but the lady running the shop was very friendly and helpful! And they have some awesome seed bead classes that go beyond the basics...Cynthia Rutledge comes to teach there once or twice a year as well as other well known seed beaders, so that's kind of cool.

Seed Beads at Findings. Photo from Findings website.

They have a smaller selection of Czech glass, but they do have a nice selection of gemstones as well as Swarovski Crystals and Pearls. And they have glass cases full of real Pearls and higher quality, more expensive gemstones as well as buttons, cabochons etc. And they have a great selection of Bead Embroidery supplies like ultra suede, bead backing, leather etc.

They have a much better selection of basic supplies and tools for seed beaders...they have One G and KO thread as well as Pony, John James and Tulip needles in all sizes and lengths. And they have the large vellux Bead Mats for $1 each, which is a great price. These are just a few examples of the things that I like to find in a bead store!

They also have a better selection of Japanese Seed Beads as well as Metal Seed Beads, but I didn't see any Czech Seed Beads. However, they do list the manufacturer on each tube of seed beads which is a very important point in my opinion.

The seed bead tubes range from about 10 grams to 30 grams depending on the color...except the really precious metal and metallic colors come in 5 gram baggies and were on the expensive side.

Their Delicas come in 15 gram tubes...they are kind of pricey, but they do carry the full line which is very convenient. They also have a good selection of Cubes, Triangles, Tilas, Long Magatamas etc...

Both stores carry a good selection of metal findings, glass beads, gemstones, crystals, and other jewelry making supplies and they both have a great selection of books and magazines including store copies that you sit and read before you buy...so I am sure I will visit them both regularly.

While I try to support local businesses as much as possible, I know that I will still have to purchase many of my seed beads, crystals, needles, thread and other supplies from my favorite online suppliers.

I know how it is for Brick and Mortar stores...I used to own a retail business, and you just can't please all the people, all the time. But I will definitely do my part to support the local economy as much as possible...especially once I start working again!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Another Package Arrives!

Receiving packages of beads in the mail is one of my favorite things, and today I got a package from Amy at Amybeads! This is from a blog giveaway that she hosted a few weeks ago...and I almost forgot about it because we agreed that it would be better to just wait until I moved and send them to me at my new address. So it was an awesome surprise to find this package in the mail today:

Inside was a beautful assortment of beads: a really cool enameled component that I believe is a rose, but it also looks a little bit like an apple too...either way it's really cool and I can't wait to work with it!

There is also a beautiful lampwork glass bead, some tiny red bicone crystals and some 8mm Dark Brown Glass Pearls...these are the perfect shade to go with some of my 3mm Pearls for the Beading Babes Project 5 challenge. And these Pearls might help to get me out of my color rut that I seem to be in lately.

I have enough Dark Brown 3mm Pearls in my stash for the Four Leaf Clover Cuff by the amazingly talented Helena Tang-Lim of Manek Manek Beads but I didn't have any 8mm Pearls that would go with them for the clasp...and now I do!

I really need to get my real camera back in action...iPhone photos are great for looking at on your iPhone, but the photo quality is horrible when you try to do anything else with them. I tried to get a good close up shot of the lampwork glass bead but it just didn't work!

Anyway, it is a beautiful bead...the base is black with some gold flecks and it has deep red, orange and white flowers on it...I don't have any lampwork beads so this is exciting for me!

Today I plan to walk up to the grocery store, which is only a few blocks away, and then I'll probably make some dinner and get down to some serious beading!

When I moved up here, my husband suggested that I take a month or two to get myself settled and acquainted with the city before I start looking for work. So, while money is still very tight, we will be alright as long as we are careful about our spending...I guess I need to stay away from The Bead Gallery for a little while...haha!

But I really do need this time off. I lived and worked in the same city for almost 30 years!

And while I am very excited to be in a new place with so many new opportunities, I realize that moving this far away from everything and everyone that I know can definitely be stressful. Especially since my line of work will most likely find me working in Detroit, which is a daunting prospect. Maybe I should just try to get a job in a bead store...

So I am very thankful for my beads and for all the wonderful people I have met through beading! It definitely helps me through the rough times!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Nicole's Bead Backing

I have spent the past week trying to get my bearings in my new city. I go on walks everyday to familiarize myself with my new neighborhood and I am learning the bus routes...my husband managed to get both of us a free yearly bus pass through his job which is so helpful since I sold my car before moving here. And the public transportation here is amazing compared to our old town!

Of course my first priority was finding beads...so I went to check out my new LBS, The Bead Gallery, and it's pretty awesome! I spent about an hour browsing and buying, and I still didn't see everything they have in there!

I also didn't take any pictures of the shop, but next time I stop by (which will probably be very soon) I will ask if I can take some photos. Everyone working there was very friendly, which is not always the case...so I definitely look forward to spending some time there!

I also received my first piece of mail since moving here, and while it wasn't beads, it was bead related! I was one of the winners of Nicole Campanella's Birthday Giveaway on her blog, Beadwright, and yesterday I found a sample pack of Nicole's Bead Backing in my mailbox...and I love that stuff for bead embroidery! It is also available in her Etsy store.

The sample pack contains 16 pieces, each piece being about 3"x 4" and there is one of each color, including the two newest colors:

I love this stuff for bead embroidery...it comes in so many colors and in several different sized sheets: 3"x 4", 6"x 9" and 9"x 12". It is much less expensive than some of the name brand products out there, and in my opinion, it just works better. It's nice and stiff, but your needle stitches through it very easily, it does not fray when cut, it doesn't get all fuzzy and you don't have to dye it or color it with markers!

I also finished up a piece I have been working on for a friend's birthday, which was last month! She saw this bracelet on the cover of one of my old issues of Beadwork Magazine and fell in love with it...so I made it for her. However my hectic schedule got in the way and I am now very late with this gift, but I am sure she will still love it!

The pattern is 'Star Fruit Bracelet' by Heather Kahn from the August/September 2010 issue of Beadwork:

I took the photo with my cell phone so it's not that great but you get the idea...she loves purple so I used several shades of purple Swarovski Crystal bicones: Purple Velvet, Tanzanite, Provence Lavender, Lilac and Violet...lots of purple!

I have a lot of projects that I want to start working on as well as a new Beading Babes challenge, and now that I am finally settled in, it's finally time to get back to beading!