Friday, March 25, 2011

Why Local Bead Stores Must Never Die

Mom's Christmas present
So, my lovely mother calls me from Florida. She's all perky with good news. She was wearing the bracelet I gave her for Christmas while shopping and the shopkeeper just loved it.

So much so, she asked my mom about it, and my mother tells her that I made it. The woman asks what it would cost to have me make her one. My mom quotes a totally whacked out price, way higher than what I would price it on Etsy, or what I told my mom it would cost to make earlier. It's just seed beads, for crying out loud!

Very smug in her twin-set,
isn't she?
But the woman said okay to this outrageous price! Then the only direction she gave was she wanted it in black beads with coral.  No size given, just "like what you made me will be okay,"  my mom says.

Now, when someone says "coral" what color do you think of?  I tend to think of the vivid red of actual coral beads. But I know this isn't true of women of my mother's age. They tend to think of a pinky-red (or reddish-pink) featured in twin-sets.  You know, those cardigan and shell sweater thingies women wore in the 50's.  Like this vintage knitting pattern pictured, available from an Etsy shop.

Classic coral?
Like this dress. That color coral.  Sortof. Do you have any idea how many colors of reddish pink, pinkish red, orangishpinkyred and assorted things very close to that there are in beads??? I'll tell, you. Zillions. Officially.

But of course, I don't have anything remotely close to classic coral color in my stash. I have bright pink. Pale pink. A dozen reds. Orange of various violent hues. No coral. How horrible. I will have to visit a bead store. I am desolate! 

I managed to find something close in size 11/0 at the first store I went to.  Something that I thought said "coral" in the classic sense, and was pretty and sparkly. Now I just need to match that with some 15s or Delicas in the same color. This is where things got a bit touchy.

The wrong stuff, not even close
I did find some 15s at the first store that looked close while in the store. Not so when I got them home and did a test run. Way too light. This is the wrong, unmatching tube of beads.  What was I thinking?

So, dolefully, I dragged myself to another store the following weekend, despite the fact it was raining cats & dogs. The things I do for my mother!

Yes, it's a match!
This is the wonderful Beads, Beads store in Orange, CA. They are among my favorite stores, not least for the fact that the staff will help you endlessly. They have a huge selection, but most of it is in the back room, with just samples out front. But so far I've never come out of there not finding something I truly needed.  So I got my coral-pink, in a delica.

This is where the local bead stores never dying comes in. I could have shopped and ordered seventeen times from online sources and never gotten a match.  I order beads all the time off the web, and have some wonderful sources. But in the specific instance of having to match an exact shade, there is no substitute for seeing and touching the beads yourself. You can't do that online.

Support your local shop when you can, because if we don't, when we really need them for hands-on, they won't be there.

You'll never guess.
And another thing you can't really do well online is discover new, cool colors. Yeah, they can list and describe them, but even expert pictures can't really convey the niftiness of certain colors. This picture is of something I ran across while searching diligently for coral. Can you guess the color???

It's not a great picture, but then, it's impossible to photograph the tiny transparent rim against the color-lined interior, that gives a mysterious conglomeration of sparkle and shimmer. Give up? It's olivine-lined orange. I can't even properly describe it in words, but the effect is wonderful. I can't wait to work it into something.  Stumbling across great new stuff also requires in-person presence. You can only get that in a bead store.

Coral in its glory
 So I did finally finish the coral/black bracelet. Here it is.  I'll mail it off tomorrow to Florida and see if her shopkeeperness likes it. If not, no sweat. I came up with a new technique for the magnetic clasp, to conceal it inside a tube of peyote stitch. Works great.

Nifty clasp
And I'm putting together a tutorial on the variation of the netted rope I came up with. I haven't seen this anywhere else. I took pictures as I worked and I'll also get some diagrams going. That ought to be fun.

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