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!


Emma said...

Glad that you are settling into your new place Vimala :) I just found a bead shop a 10 minute walk from my house and I had no idea it was there! lol

Can't wait to see your preciouses..


Maryanne said...

I'm glad you're settling in to you new home! Your bead stores sound interesting. At least in a pinch you might be able to find what you need at one of them!