Black Friday 2020

Hey, everybody! So, a lot has changed this year and the holidays are all weird and scrambled, but one thing is still the same – I’m having my Black Friday Sale!

Discounts have been applied in my Wescott Jewelry Etsy shop, so you don’t have to remember any codes or coupons or anything. Patterns are discounted 20% and finished jewelry is 25% off with free shipping on all domestic orders over $35!

I’m also going to let it run for a full week so y’all don’t feel rushed. I always work on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and hate that hectic feeling of missing out on super limited sales. So this one is good all the way until next Friday, December 4th.

I am also making gift wrapping available, so if you have loved ones you won’t be seeing this year, just pop their address into your order and select gift wrapping during checkout. You can even include a gift message that I can print out and include in the order. I’ll wrap it up myself and send it straight to them with your message, while still supplying you with a tracking number so you know when it arrives safely.

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy set of holidays, however you manage to celebrate.

Here’s a few helpful links for holiday sales this year!

If you’re selling online this year, here’s my guide to describing jewelry online.

And if you’re buying jewelry this year, here’s my list of tips for jewelry gifting!

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Swarovski to Stop Selling Beads? What I Know So Far


So, first off – I am not a journalist. I haven’t been deeply investigating into this story and I don’t have direct info from Swarovski. The bead shop where I work doesn’t currently carry Swarovski crystal, so we don’t have a direct representative to ask.

But I am very plugged into the beading community on social media and there seems to be a bit of a Swarovski storm brewing and I wanted to put everything I know into one place and maybe hear from you guys if you have more info?

So, first of all. I run the Beads Direct USA Instagram page and follow a whole lot of beaders and bead shops from that account. A little over a week ago, I noticed a story from an Australian bead shop alerting their customers that they weren’t going to be able to sell Swarovski beads anymore because Swarovski was switching their focus to their fine jewelry and not selling beads or crafting supplies anymore.

I know. I was also shocked.

But, after some extensive googling, I wasn’t able to find any other source to back up that claim. It seemed doubtful that the Australian shop would lie about something like that, but maybe it was region specific? I didn’t know, but since I didn’t have any more info, I just waited.

Now, I’m in a couple different beading groups on Facebook, and one of them belongs to Jill Wiseman. I don’t post on there much, since she only allows posts of her designs and products, but it can be a really great source of news. When people in her group who must have also seen the rumors started asking about it, she promised to check with her Swarovski supplier and get back to us.

On October 30th, this is the email she got and shared with us.

“Dear Valued Customers,
E.H. Ashley continues to be your source for Swarovski crystal components. They have assured us that we can continue to place orders and they will be delivered. They do not plan to abruptly cut off supply on any products.
I know there are a lot of rumors out there, but we are in continuous contact with Swarovski’s management team and base our information on the facts they provide. They are reorganizing their business and “will continue to sell Swarovski crystals albeit in a more controlled environment with select branding partners.”
As more information becomes available, we will keep you informed. Meanwhile, please be assured that we are here to continue to supply you.
Regards,
E.H. Ashley & Company, INC”

Interesting. But, lo and behold, the next day on October 31st, Jill shared this with us.

“Can we stand one more Swarovski post? Well, I’m going to write one!
Here’s fact: Australia and New Zealand HAVE been told they will no longer receive beads (and fancy stones) from Swarovski by the end of the year. According to a MAJOR bead store owner in Perth, Swarovski then intends to look at other markets and decide. I trust what she says.
Swarovski IS going through a major reorganization with an eye to cutting areas so they are thought of as a luxury brand again. There have been many layoffs within the company under it’s new management, and it’s not over yet. It is unclear at this time where the beads and components line falls within this.
Here’s my personal speculation: I think it’s possible that they are closing down the beads and components market region-by-region. I hope I’m wrong. But it makes no business sense to keep making the product, but then exclude a large territory like Australia/New Zealand from purchasing it from them. It seems more like the first step in a process.
Here’s my personal plan: I will continue to stock Swarovski. Right now, there are no significant limitations on obtaining it here (other than Covid-related.) But I also will be looking to add Preciosa into our crystal lineup. It will take a while, as US distributers are terrible about carrying the full product line. Example: one distributer I looked at yesterday carries THREE 3mm bicone colors, and about 20 of the 4mm bicones. Preciosa has 42 base colors and an additional 17 color effects for reference. I’ll have to hunt and search, and then I’ll have to afford it too – so it will be a process.
I also plan to look for good quality Chinese bicones as another price level option for my customers.
What I think you should do: Carry on as usual for now. If there’s a Swarovski color you adore with all your heart, you might gradually lay in a little stock for just in case. As always, I will keep you posted with any new developments as soon as I know them.
What about prices: Some folks have asked if the price will go up. I don’t know right now, but probably. At Jill Wiseman Designs, I have not increased Swarovski prices in 5 years – I’ve absorbed 5 years of annual cost increases and currency adjustments. It’s something I’ll look at in 2021, or sooner if there indeed is another cost increase.
That’s everything I know, folks. Stay calm. We can do this.”

After that, I was pretty convinced that Swarovski had decided to stop production on their beads and crafting supplies and was just trying to only tell one region at a time. Jill’s right. It just wouldn’t make any sense to exclude Australia and New Zealand if every other region was going to continue as normal.

Then Stitchncraft, a UK bead store, shared this in their newsletter, which Jill shared today, November 7th.

As many of you may be aware there have been a number of rumours recently regarding the direction that Swarovski are moving with their business. As a Swarovski Authorized Retailer we had a meeting on Friday in order for them to share with us their future plans.
Unfortunately we have to report that they will cease, or have already ceased, production on virtually all of the Swarovski products we stock as part of the restructuring of their business. We felt that we had to alert our valued customers as many of you will have patterns, kits and unfinished projects that will require the now discontinued products ranges.
Their projected plan is that from January 2021 their current direct customers, like us, will only be able to purchase a certain amount of product each based on a previous purchase history. The sale of the products to direct customers will cease from June 2021.
Whilst this may seem like a long way away it is important to note that when there is no more production on these lines that their stocks may well run out well before this deadline. We do have access to their stock holding of all the lines we sell but of course we do not know how quickly these lines will diminish.

 

So, if the UK is also not going to have access to Swarovski crystal beads and stones after 2021, I am pretty certain that this is going to be worldwide. This kind of restructuring isn’t super surprising, since apparently they’ve had massive job cuts and store closures this year. I think the attempt to market themselves more exclusively by clinging to the fine jewelry angle and abandoning their craft marker is understandable, if disappointing.

First off, do you have any info that I don’t? Have you received contradictory information or heard from other retailers about this? If so, please let me know if the comments. I’m really interested in what’s going on and why they’ve taken this weird approach of only telling certain regions at a time when the internet makes news fly so quickly.

Secondly, how do you feel about this? Personally, I’m not very inconvenienced individually, I really don’t use bicone crystals very often and I don’t have any patterns that rely on specialty Swarovski shapes or stones. All of my patterns that use bicones and rivoli crystals will work just fine with, say, Preciosa bicones or Matubo rivolis. And as a beader, I tend to reach for Czech Fire-polished crystals before a sparkly bicone – it’s just not my style.

But it is still really shocking to see such a giant in the industry abandoning the craft market (and in such a weird, half-concealed way). And after losing my two beloved local bead shops this year and the Bead and Button closure, it is definitely a little emotional to see another pillar of the beading community crumble. Although, now would be a great time for Preciosa to step up production and worldwide availability and I do like some of their finishes and prefer their price point.

What do you think? Have any more info to share? Any feelings?

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Oopsie – Beader’s Block and Blogging Blues

Hello, my beautiful beady friends. I guess it’s pretty obvious what happened after making a post about struggling to find motivation to bead and then disappearing for a month. Oops. I’m definitely still struggling with finding the motivation and sustained interest to work on my beading projects. I know that it’s a combination of seasonal depression and general pandemic stress (we are in a third wave where I live and it’s not safe or responsible to gather with my friends indoors and becoming to cold to see them outdoors). It’s totally reasonable to be feeling pretty blah right now. But it does make blogging kind of hard.

So, even though it’s been almost a full month AND I missed the second post of September, I’ve only made three things to show you.

First up, I had been messing around with my stash of 11/0’s and made some bead soup to empty out of the remnants of some mostly-empty tubes. I decided it would be fun to do some more herringbone and made this cuff bracelet.

I found these small, rounded Hematite cubes in my stash and thought they would be fun to include between chunks of herringbone and the deep metallic green coloring of them went really well with my seed bead mix.

(I have no idea how this matte, colorful bead can be hematite, but that’s what the tag said and they had the expected weight *shrug*)

I popped some copper Tierracast findings on the end and really like the finished look. After that, I still had quite a few of the cubes leftover and thought it would be a cool idea to try to use them all up in my next project. So I found some coordinating beads and made another simple spiral rope.

Each cube is framed by a tiny 1x2mm rondelle and seed beads in 11/0 round, 11/0 Delica, and 15/0 rounds. I had just enough cubes to get a decent sized bracelet.

But then after I put my seed beads away, I realized that I had a bunch of rondelle crystals left and… wouldn’t it be cool if I could use all of those up in my next project?

And, like some sort of miracle, I had exactly enough of the crystal rondelles to frame this Hummingbird tile that I have been wanting to embroider for the longest time. I got this tile from the secondhand consignment section of Bead Stash near Dayton, OH before it closed, so I have no way of getting more and no information on who made it or where it came from. But I was absolutely delighted to use up all my rondelles on this little pendant.

In this picture, I have one of those little orange-wood stick cuticle pushers that I use to do my nails to show you how big the bail is, haha. It’s about 4mm in diameter. I wanted to add the seedbeads on the border to pick up the colors in the tile, but I also wanted to keep it fairly clean and simple, so the bail is as simple as possible.

But that’s all I’ve done in the last four weeks. Most of the time, I get home from work and all I want to do is eat (a lot) and sleep. Nowadays, I go to bed at 8:30. But I think it’s okay to be feeling a little glum and a little sad. It’s hibernation season and I know my energy for beading will come back on its own, eventually. Thank you guys for being here to read about my projects when I finally get around to doing them.

How about you? How’s your motivation doing right now? Are you finding the energy and inspiration you need and if so, can I have some?

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Back to Basics

Hey, everybody! So, after the sudden flash of motivation that helped me finally write my River Reed pattern that I shared in my last post, I’ve been stuck feeling kinda unmotivated to do much beading again. I’ve been spending time with my stash, doing some soft reorganizing and donating extra stuff to make free gifts for work and I’ve been really enjoying flipping through my beading books, but I haven’t been making much.

And honestly, that’s fine because I have such a HUGE backstock of finished pieces that need to be listed and I’m sure you can guess that I haven’t been super motivated to do that either.

I did manage to finally finish my remake of my Two Years Cuff. This is an older pattern of mine from 2015. The name is actually a reference to my two year wedding anniversary (and a subtle joke about how long the bracelet takes to make, haha). Honestly, with all the embellishment, it feels a little more formal and fussy than a lot of my patterns, but I still like how the criss-crossing at the top looks and I love any excuse to cover something if Fire-Polished crystals.

The base is made with metallic copper Kheops Par Puca beads and Picasso Brown Czechmate Tiles. I kept the seed beads simple by using both sizes in Matte Metallic Khaki Iris (one of my favorites) because I really wanted the Fire-Polished crystals to pop against all that matte. I don’t have a name for them, unfortuantely, but they’re some sort of half-metallic gold over a reflective blue AB sort of situation.

True to its name, it did take awhile to finish and after something with so many layers and picots and doubling-back, I was really drawn to the idea of making something super simple. I was puttering around in my stash and I found these round lavender beads. Honestly, I have no idea what they’re made of – they seem too light to be stone and the texture feels weird for glass or wood. Regardless, they’re slightly irregular, which has been keeping me from using them, since I don’t use irregular beads very often. But I suddenly felt inspired to use them in a flat spiral.

I paired them with one of my favorite Picasso seed beads – the Picasso Montana Matte 11/0’s and some half-metallic olive fire-polished crystals. I really liked the color combination and the slight irregularity of the beads didn’t affect the flat spiral too much.

While I was stitching it up, I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I made a flat spiral. How weird is that? It’s such a fun basic pattern and I used to be OBSESSED with them when I was first learning beadweaving. I was really taken with the way you could use almost any bead you wanted and that it didn’t require any special shaped or two-hole beads. Somehow, I’d forgotten how much I loved it. It felt really nice to rediscover an old favorite.

After I finished that bracelet, I really wanted to use up the rest of those half-metallic olive fire-polished crystals. Since rediscovering the flat spiral had been so satisfying, I was inspired to return to another old favorite – the classic spiral. Spiral stitch is another one of my favorites because, again, you can adjust it to include so many different types of beads and you don’t have to rely on any specialty shapes. That versatility is addictive.

The core of my spiral was this very soft, light cool-toned green and each loop had a repeating pattern of matte pewter 11/0’s, matte silver 8/0’s, 3mm Druks in a metallic olive, and the fire-polish from my last project. I just kept going until I ran out of druks and then had exactly on crystal left to dangle off the end of the extension chain. It was perfect. I really dig this monochromatic look and the light gray/green effect is right up my alley.

I’m trying not to beat myself up about this weird hit-or-miss motivation that I’ve been stuck in recently. It would be weird if six months of a pandemic DIDN’T mess with my emotions and creativity. But it was really nice to get these little bright spots this month. Going back to basics might be a good idea for me until inspiration decides to visit again.

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New Design – River Reed Beaded Cuff Bracelet

I had a class scheduled back in March that never happened for obvious COVID-19 reasons. The design was finished and I had the samples all made. I still needed to write the pattern, but that usually doesn’t take me too long with the impending class as a hard deadline.

But when the class got canceled, I lost my hard deadline and Every Last Drop of my motivation. And that’s why I’m just now getting around to sharing my River Reed Bracelet. It’s my first pattern since November, which is a little embarrassing, but this is a weird year. She’s late, but she’s here!

Pattern Available Here

This beaded cuff is mostly herringbone stitch but slightly modified to use Potomac’s Tubelet beads and little segments of Fire-Polished crystals and size 8/0 seed beads. I’ve been moving away from using two-hole and shaped beads, but these Tubelets are essentially just chubby bugles and I really like the look of them with the 8/0’s and crystals.

(If you can’t find Tubelets, Cathy has a bunch of colors available in the Beaded Bliss Etsy shop.)

I have included all the bead colors that I used in both samples in the pattern, since I’ve had folks requested that a lot. I also changed up the format of my pattern for the first time to be more column-oriented. I worked really hard on getting new bead drawings worked up and I do think this one looks awful pretty, if I do say so myself.

As for the leather snap clasps, I did also include the info for those in the pattern. The avocado clasp on the lavender and spring green bracelet is one that Cathy made. She has bunches available in her shop. The patterned one on the blue and gold bracelet was from Melinda Orr in her Etsy shop. I’ve been really enjoying the added pop that the leather clasps add, but you can definitely use a different style clasp on this bracelet and not have to tweak the pattern.

I think part of why I was so stuck with writing this pattern is because I’m not visiting my usual bead shop and getting feedback from other beaders. It’s really hard to cultivate your own internal motivation without that support, especially when things are so stressful already. But now that the pattern is done, I think it might be the best illustrated one I’ve ever written and I’m really proud of how my pattern writing has improved over the years.

I think I just need to give up on a strict idea of how productive I need to be right now and just let things happen when they happen. This one was supposed to happen in March, but I guess it’s ok that it’s happened in August instead. I’m still proud of it. <3

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Free Bead Loom Pattern – Rainbow Chevron Ombre with Border

Hey, everybody! In my last post, I shared my adventures in learning how to use my Ricks Beading Loom and shared three bracelets that I had made with it. I really enjoyed the learning process and I got SO MANY kind comments about the pieces I’d made so far.

But, by far, it seems like this one was the run away favorite.

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Between the comment sections of my Facebook and Instagram where I shared photos of this bracelet, I actually got quite a few questions about if I was planning on writing a pattern for this one. I was a little surprised, since I am SO new to bead looming, but I wanted to take a stab at making a loom pattern. I hopped over to Bead Pattern Maker and this is what I came up with!

Rainbow Chevron Palette

Rainbow Chevron Pic
Obviously this is just a tiny snippet of the pattern, but it repeats once you’ve completed these rows. If you decide to give it a try, just start at the top and work your way down and after the last row, start with first one again.

The colors in this graph look a little dull, but the ones I listed in the palette photo above are accurate with what I used – I made sure to double check. The palette also lists how many beads you need for one “section” before it loops. Each section is about an inch and a half, so you can plan out your bracelet with whatever clasp you want and whatever length you need.

Since this bracelet is 15 beads wide, you’ll need to start with 16 warp threads.

I used the Ricks Beading Loom with S-Lon Thread in Size D in a dark brown. You could use this pattern with a different style loom, though, and I’m sure there are lots of threads you could use. I used a bronze ribbon clamp for the ends and attached a lobster claw and extension chain. The dangle was a random bead I had in my stash, haha.

IMG_4126

If you prefer a word chart, this version of the graph has the bead palette and chart with the corresponding letters sort of layered over top. The website I used auto-generated this, so I’m not sure why the beads appear slightly staggered – they should be in straight rows.

Rainbow Chevron PDF – Here’s the Link to Download the PDF

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And if you need a traditional word chart, here’s my best attempt at one:

Rainbow Chevron Palette

Row 1: (3)A, (3)B, (3) C, (3)B, (3)A
Row 2: (1)A, (1)D, (1)A, (1)E, (3)B, (1)C, (3)B, (1)E, (1)A, (1)D, (1)A
Row 3: (3)A, (2)E, (5)B, (2)E, (3)A
Row 4: (3)A, (3)E, (3) B, (3)E, (3)A
Row 5: (1)A, (1)D, (1)A, (1)F, (3)E, (1)B, (3)E, (1)F, (1)A, (1)D, (1)A
Row 6: (3)A, (2)F, (5)E, (2)F, (3)A
Row 7: (3)A, (3)F, (3) E, (3)F, (3)A
Row 8: (1)A, (1)D, (1)A, (1)G, (3)F, (1)E, (3)F, (1)G, (1)A, (1)D, (1)A
Row 9: (3)A, (2)G, (5)F, (2)G, (3)A
Row 10: (3)A, (3)G, (3) F, (3)G, (3)A
Row 11: (1)A, (1)D, (1)A, (1)H, (3)G, (1)F, (3)G, (1)H, (1)A, (1)D, (1)A
Row 12: (3)A, (2)H, (5)G, (2)H, (3)A
Row 13: (3)A, (3)H, (3) G, (3)H, (3)A
Row 14: (1)A, (1)D, (1)A, (1)I, (3)H, (1)G, (3)H, (1)I, (1)A, (1)D, (1)A
Row 15: (3)A, (2)I, (5)H, (2)I, (3)A
Row 16: (3)A, (3)I, (3) H, (3)I, (3)A
Row 17: (1)A, (1)D, (1)A, (1)J, (3)I, (1)H, (3)I, (1)J, (1)A, (1)D, (1)A
Row 18: (3)A, (2)J, (5)I, (2)J, (3)A
Row 19: (3)A, (3)J, (3) I, (3)J, (3)A
Row 20: (1)A, (1)D, (1)A, (1)K, (3)J, (1)I, (3)J, (1)K, (1)A, (1)D, (1)A
Row 21: (3)A, (2)K, (5)J, (2)K, (3)A
Row 22: (3)A, (3)K, (3)J, (3)K, (3)A
Row 23: (1)A, (1)D, (1)A, (1)C, (3)K, (1)J, (3)K, (1)C, (1)A, (1)D, (1)A
Row 24: (3)A, (2)C, (5)K, (2)C, (3)A
Row 25: (3)A, (3)C, (3)K, (3)C, (3)A
Row 26: (1)A, (1)D, (1)A, (1)B, (3)C, (1)K, (3)C, (1)B, (1)A, (1)D, (1)A
Row 27: (3)A, (2)B, (5)C, (2)B, (3)A
and start back at Row 1!

I’m not really sure what I’m doing, since I’ve never made a bead loom graph or written a word chart before, but hopefully this will be enough for those of you who wanted a pattern to be able to get by. :)

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Thanks so much for all the kind words and support! Happy Beading!

 

 

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Adventures in Bead Looming!

Unlike my last post, this one is NOT about my feelings – this post is about BEADS because omg, I learned something new, you guys. I taught myself how to use a Rick’s Beading Loom!

So, here’s an embarrassing story – I think I’ve had this loom for at least four years. And I just opened in this month. Oops! Beadsmith sent us a free one at work (Beads Direct USA) to see if it was something we wanted to sell and we ultimately decided against it because shipping something that big can be a big pain – but my boss said I could keep the free one that they had sent! I was super excited and then put it in my bead room and forgot about it for YEARS.

But my sister-in-law recently got into bead looming (the ONLY other beader in my family!) and I was inspired to pull this one out and finally give it a try.

I wasn’t super excited at the prospect of using beading thread instead of my beloved Fireline, but my recent obsession with fringe earrings has helped me get over that a bit. For these projects, I think I used S-Lon thread in size D for everything.

I haven’t tried a traditional loom setup, but it seems like the way you set up the Rick’s Beading loom is a little different and one of the bonuses is that you only end up with two warp threads. I haven’t tried the other method, but that sounded good to me. I learned how to set it up from this super helpful video.

Not too complicated, huh? For my first piece, I had a Beadslide clasp that I wanted to use, so I decided to use 8/0’s and do a super simple striping pattern so that I could focus on getting the technique right. It was really easy and worked up super quickly.

I did end up measuring the clasp wrong, though, so my Beadslide clasp didn’t fit until I added narrower rows to each side using regular old square stitch. Apparently, I needed to make the bracelet nine beads wide, instead of ten. It didn’t end up quite as neat on the ends as I would have liked, but it’s not bad for a first try.

I did really fall in love with the color combination. It’s just a repeating pattern of matte gray, pale yellow, light green, and matte silver, but I think it’s really pretty. I’ve got to remember to pair pale yellow with cool tones more often.

After that, I immediately dialed the difficulty level way up and decided to make a freeform piece incorporating leftover two-hole beads from old projects. It was MUCH trickier! I had to fit in three beads per warp thread, which made things a bit more complicated, without taking into account the extra work of keeping track of the two-hole beads.

The different sized beads made things a little lumpier than I generally like and I feel like I maybe should have used a thicker thread for the warp threads to give it a bit more spine. Also! Keeping patterns freeform is really hard for me. But I like how it turned out AND since it was three 8/0’s wide I was able to use my second Beadslide clasp properly.

She’s a little uneven, but it adds character, right?

After that, I decided I didn’t love working with 8/0’s (especially on such thin thread) and decided to try something with Delicas. I was hoping that more precise beads with a lower profile would make those edges a little neater. I arranged a little rainbow with the Delica beads in my stash and used some square stitch graph paper I got online to draw out a simple chevron pattern with a black border.

It was SO much fun, omg. I really enjoyed working with the Delica beads. It was slower than the 8/0’s obviously, but the neat way they stacked up together was incredibly satisfying. Watching it grow row by row was soothing to my soul.

I incorporated the little bronze dots into the black border because I knew the hardware was going to be antiqued bronze in color – that’s the only ribbon clamp that I had. I think it works nicely with the piece!

I’m not completely in love with the Rick’s Beading Loom. You have to know the exact length of your piece before you start and can’t adjust as you go, which can be annoying. And the method of stringing that allows you to end with only two warp threads leaves these tiny little thread loops on the edges. They get covered very easily if you use a ribbon clamp like in the center bracelet, but it kinda got in the way of the BeadSlide clasp on the other two.

But I’m also not super excited by the idea of weaving in a million warp threads after a project and this seems to be the best compromise, so I’m willing to work with it. I’m definitely interested in making more of these loom bracelets – especially now that I’ve discovered how much more I enjoy using the 11/0’s instead of the 8/0’s. I’m also curious about using a thicker cord for the warp thread. Stay tuned for more experiments!

Have you guys ever tried beadwork using a loom? What was your experience like?

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A Few Farewells, in Which Sam Gets in Her Feelings

I’m a person who is very deeply sunk into the beading community. My day job is working for an online bead store that used to be brick and mortar. I’ve been working there for over 10 years now, since I started as a shop girl right out of high school. Beading retail is the only industry I know.

I’ve been selling beadweaving patterns and running my little Etsy shop since 2013. I’ve been teaching classes on and off at my local bead stores for about as long. In normal circumstances, I spend every Wednesday night beading at Beaded Bliss with my friends. When the owner is out of town, I run the shop for her.

I’ve never tried any other type of art or craft, except for that one week I bought a bunch of watercolor supplies, painted three bookmarks, and then never tried again. My only other hobbies are reading (often while beading) and painting my nails. Beading takes up a lot of my time and a lot of my brain, and every aspect of my working life is related to it somehow.

And I have known that entire time that the beading industry is incredibly fragile.

And HOO BOY, this has not been a great year for fragile things.

One of my local bead shops has closed. I’m sure you all know Carole Ohl’s work from her amazing Trendsetter designs and her gorgeous patterns and kits available on her Etsy shop Open Seed. But I mostly knew her as the owner of the Bead Stash, which I discovered was just down the street from my in-laws house. She did consignment, as well as traditional bead retail, so there was always a pile of unique treasures to be found there. I loved chatting with Carole when I could get myself up to Dayton to visit and I taught classes there on and off for a few years. It was a wonderful clubhouse and Carole’s artistic flair made the whole place welcoming and inspiring.

It wasn’t just beaded art either – Carole is a prolific artist of all kinds and every inch of her shop was filled with doodles, fabric art, beaded art, beaded dolls, and Zentangle designs. I mean, just look at the bathroom!

The shop has closed and I’ll miss popping in to catch up with Carole. But I’m also excited for her to have more free time to develop designs and fill her Etsy shop with kits and patterns and beautiful ideas. I’m happy for her to have more time to spend with her grandkids and for the freedom from the grueling retail schedule inherent in owning a shop. All good things come to an end and Carole is so full of good things that I know the internet will allow them to keep overflowing onto us.

And as I was compiling these photos yesterday and thinking about what I wanted to say about Bead Stash and how to write about its loss, I found out that Bead & Button is completely shutting down.


Personally, I rarely buy the magazines because of the density of ad material and focus on shaped and two-hole beads. And I never had the time or the funds to make it out to the Bead & Button shows. But it would be insane not to recognize the intense blow to the beading community this is. The shows, the classes, the magazines… a lot of beadweaving designers got their start working with Bead & Button in some capacity. It’s hard to see it go and scary to think of what it means for the community.

So, I don’t really know what to do right now besides mourning what we’ve lost and holding tight with both hands to what we still have. Shopping small and supporting the small bead businesses left in our lives and hoping that the industry can course correct enough to survive the pandemic. But as someone who’s been watching it from the inside and seeing the struggle every bead retailer goes through, I’m very worried.

Beading and crafting and self-adornment have been a part of human culture since we were barely humans, so the craft itself is not going to go away. But I suspect that the beading industry and social landscape is going to look a little different after the pandemic. It might be time to start emotionally wrestling with that so that we’re ready when the dust settles.

Posted in Blog and Shop Announcements, Storytime | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Fringe Binge!

You guys are so going to make fun of me for this, but I have fallen in love with my “unloved” beading technique from the Isolation Beading Challenge. I cannot stop making fringe earrings!

So, I’m sure you guys remember my original post about experimenting with fringe earrings last month for the Isolation Beading Challenge. I had made these two pairs of earrings and decided that, even if you can’t use Fireline, fringe isn’t so bad after all.

I knew I wanted to add some sort of little dangle in the gold hoops, and I was lucky enough to find these dainty little leafs for their centers.

After that, I REALLY wanted to use my stash of art beads, so I made the pair on the left to match these gorgeous lampwork beads I’ve been hoarding forever. They sold pretty much immediately, so I don’t have them any more. But I was really happy with how the colors turned out. I did the swamp-witchy ones on the right to use up the rest of the green drops. I really LOVE how the drops add some visual weight to the bottom and you know I’m all about these earth tones.

I also got my mitts on some gorgeous Tierracast frames and I wanted to experiment with a different silhouette, so I made these purple monsters this weekend. They are big and bold and the purple is way outside my comfort zone, but I really loved making them. And I got to use some Swarovski crystals, which always feels indulgent in a lovely way. I also used some magic copper Union seed beads, so there’s some added dimension to the seed bead bits.

I have been having a lot of fun getting to compose pieces purely based on complimentary shapes and colors. It’s kind of a nice break not to have to worry about specific beads types or sizes to fit a specific pattern. And these work up so FAST. I’m definitely hooked for now. <3

So you guys have any specific thread recommendations for doing fringe? I’ve tried One-G thread and S-Lon so far. I love having the color options that I usually don’t get with Fireline and I’m willing to experiment a bit!

Posted in Beading Techniques and Experiments | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Isolation Beading Challenge Completed!

Blow the trumpets and fling your confetti, guys! I finished the Isolation Beading Challenge!

The last one on my list was actually the first one – finishing off a project. I mean, I made and completed many projects since I first issued the Isolation Beading Challenge in March, but not one that met the spirit of the challenge – something that I had been procrastinating or that had been left behind and forgotten.

Then I found my kumihimo disk in the very bottom of my beading cart and realized that it had a project on it! Half of a necklace. That I’m pretty sure had been there for many, many, many months. OOPS.

So, I finished it, realized it was way too long, and made TWO (2!) necklaces out of it!

The first was a full length necklace with Long Magatamas as far as the eye can see.

I love making these. I used a bunch of different colors and picked up the magatama beads in random directions, so they don’t lay in that smooth dragon scale way. It’s random and ruffled and puts me in mind of a pile of autumn leaves.

For the caps, I used my favorite oversized floral caps and a simple toggle. It’s a bit heavy, but I love the drama of this big fluffy necklace. <3

For the second one, I only did a partial length of beaded Kumihimo and then made the rest of the the necklace with segments of beads on S-Lon cord in a warm burgundy color.

Here’s a close up on the beaded section and the super cool toggle that I love!

And with that, my Isolation Beading Challenge is complete! Have any of you guys been playing along? What’s your progress look like? There’s no deadline! Feel free to jump in at any time! :)

Posted in Challenges and Blog Hops | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments