Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Buy the Beads, or Buy the Kit??

I read a most interesting article a couple days ago on Beading Daily, about the merits of purchasing a kit of beads for a tutorial, versus hunting down all the individual beads needed for yourself. The article mentioned several benefits, including time savings, not having to own and store leftover extra beads, one stop shopping, and cost.

Maybe it makes a difference if you already own a huge number of beads.  I certainly do, but I also find several $20 - $50 trips to the bead store are part of every project I undertake.  It seems no matter how many I have, the right one is missing.

I ran a little test this evening, on my most recent kit.   The kit for "Rose Hips" is very complex, with 20 different beads involved, some of which are discontinued by the manufacturer.  Holy cow, it was a LOT of counting and weighing!

In my test, I pretended I was a beader in my own city, with access to two great local bead stores with large inventory, were I do most of my shopping.   I used retail pricing for what I hope is the smallest packaging available, and shopped locally, at the fewest possible stops.  I did order a few things online, but did not count the shipping costs.

I expected that the kit, at $60, would likely cost about the same as the beads, and other supplies included in the kit.  But boy was I wrong.  Purchased separately, the beads cost more than twice as much, $141.84.

Material Name Grams or Pcs per Kit Source Packaged Amount Cost

A Dark  Bead Aiko #617
Bobby Bead 14  gr Tube

B Dark Bead Miyuki # 306 Transparent Luster Olive Gold 11/0
Stormcloud Trading 30 gr Tube

C Bead All Colors Miyuki  # 465 24k Gold 15/0
Stormcloud Trading 10 gram Tube

D Bead Dk & Med Miyuki #143B Transparent Olivene 15/0 
Stormcloud Trading 30 gr Tube

E Bead Dark Toho #167 Olive Green Matte Metallic 8/0
Bobby Bead 14 gr Box

E Rainbow  w/E Too #2631F Glazed Rainbow Iguana 8/0 2 pcs Bobby Bead 14 gr Box
Only 2 pieces needed
Aa Bead Medium Delica #1135 Opaque Dk Olive
Stormcloud Trading 5 gr Tube

Bb Bead Medium  Toho #1007 Metallic Lined Olive Luster 11/0
Bobby Bead 14 gr Tube
Ee Bead Medium Miyuki #411 Dark Olive 8/0 
Stormcloud Trading 30 gr Tube

Aaa Bead Light Aiko #1610F Moss Matte Opaque
Bobby Bead 5 gr Box

Bbb Bead Light Matsuno #356H Lined Rainbow Olivene/Tan
Stormcloud Trading 30 gr Tube

Ddd Bead Light Beads By Dee Unknown Peridot Transparent 15/0
Beads by Dee 15 gr Box
Guesstimated cost
Eee Bead Light Toho #2011 Ancient Light Green Matte Opaque 8/0
Bobby Bead 14 gr Box

F Coral 9x5 Rice Coral  17 pcs Bobby Bead 50 piece Strand
Special ordered
G Rondelles Red Czech Rondel 11 pcs  Bobby Bead 100 piece Strand

H Stringing 6/0 Dk Toho #617 Olive Green Metallic Matte 6/0 12 pcs Bobby Bead 14 gr Box

J 6mm Czech FP Unknown Color 16 pcs Papio Gems 25 piece Strand
K Miyuki 11/0 24K Miyuki  #191 24k Gold 11/0 40 pcs Caravan Beads 5 gr Tube

L 4mm Czech FP 4mm Czech Olivine Snakeskin Fire Polish 8 pcs Prairie Flower Beads 50 piece Strand

M Czech Drop Czech Drop Bead 5x8 12 pcs Prairie Flower Beads
Clasp Gold Plate Toggle & Loop 1 set Stormcloud Trading Pkg of 10 sets

4 Soldered Rings 4mm Soldered Ring Gold Plated 2 pcs Stormcloud Trading Pkg of 10 pcs

4x6 Oval Jump R 4x6mm Oval Jump Rings 4 pcs Stormcloud Trading Pkg of 100 pcs

Nylon Core Stren 50# Test 12" E-Bay 100 yd Spool
Limited Supply
Thread One-G Thread 1 spool Bobby Bead 50 yd Spool

Spring Clamp Beadalon Bead Stoppers 2 pcs Amazon 20 piece pkg

 Total Materials Cost

Now there were two big ticket items, the spring clamps, and the 15/0 24k gold plated Miyuki rocailles.  But even if we assume that I could have found either or both in smaller quantity, the kit is still looking like a great deal.  Also, there are sales at Bobby Bead, so if I didn't mind waiting for what I needed to go on sale, and buying some this week, and some more the next, money could be saved.

Substituting beads would be a challenge, because the hues and values in the leaves are pretty tightly controlled and each one depends on the others.  I did many samples to come up with combinations that worked.

Just to illustrate the point...

And then, there's the fact that some of the beads in the kit have been discontinued by the manufacturer, making them a challenge to hunt down and purchase.

Note to self, before deciding to write a tutorial, and kit a project, it might be best to have everything needed on hand.  Sigh, learning curve.  Perhaps simpler would be best, but as a designer, this is what I like to do.

SO...  before you think kits are expensive, and before you think you can find everything you need for yourself, consider my little test above.  It surprised me.  Did it surprise you too?  

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Rose Hip Saga... it went on forever!!!

I have worked out several ways to make this project easier and tutorial-worthy, and am hoping for a release date just after Thanksgiving!  Never say never, I guess.

This idea came from a shrub rose cluster near my home.  I had taken pictures of it a year ago, in the fall, when it was colored, and had a few hips still dangling and I fell in love with the extraordinary look of the thing! Sadly, I could not find that image, but this exceptional one has the feel of the thing beautifully.

Staggering, right?  Yep, someday I'll have a go with the fall colors, because OMG!  But what I loved most was the little hip.  BUT, I have just played with fall color and leaves and I thought it might be time to move on.  So I did more looking about at my world.  The beautiful rose patch had changed.  It's been cut back to allow it to thicken for next year and just a few little leaves had begun to sprout.  But they still had that great TEXTURE.

I did a little more research with my BFF Google Images.  I believe in working from life (lol) as much as possible when I try to do botanical imagery, so I hunted for pictures of rose hips.  What I found showed me that they came in two different shapes, both oval, and like the rondelle shape I had seen.

So first I set out to create some leaves, with the cool, quilted texture and vein-y-ness of the shrub roses.  I had to remember how to make Russian Leaves first, and then I began playing with the texture, which I ultimately got with both a combination of cylinders and rounds, and also with finish, using a matte cylinder and a shiny round, and vice-versa.  I had to stop and draw bits of leaves to figure out how to get that all to happen.

After much color experimentation, (much of which I ripped out before finishing a leaf) I finally had leaves and colors I liked.  I thought I would do a less shiny, casual version first, and then explore using silver-lined beads too, for a dressier look.  But I never got past the casual version, and I think it's plenty dressy.

I also thought I might want to use thorns. Because, WOW!  Thorny!!!

Then I went on a hip and thorn hunt.  One of my local bead shops (J-Ring Glass) is closing.  I am sad about this, because I liked their semi-precious collection especially.  I found loads of possible dressy and casual hips there (both coral and glass) and some amazing red/gold daggers at Bobby Bead and brought them all home.  I added the actual thorn beads I had been hoarding.

And then, I played a bit with the funky ends of the hips, the part that would have been the base for the rose flower, before the petals fell off and the fruit matured.  Actually, I got completely obsessed with these.

OK, meanwhile, back at the ranch, I had my leaves assembled on a piece of Stren, the same magic that supports my lilacs.  I had a rope with the red dagger thorns, and I wove them together, and tried out the hips.  I hated the results. Clunky, awkward, the daggers were stealing the thunder from the leaves and hips, and I had imagined a cascade of hips, but they were fighting with the leaves. EGAD.
I rather wanted to quit.  You cannot imagine the difficulty of weaving this uncontrolled, catchy sprig of leaves into this insane thorny rope.  I gave it a couple days, and ripped the leaves out of the rope.  I did like the bright red berries against the dark forest-y green leaves, so thank goodness, all was not lost.

Then I made MORE leaves and attached them in a triangular shape, which thank heaven, I liked. But the darn hip-tip thingies (of which I finally had made ones I just loved) were totally wrong, and masked the berries. And I thought the fat rondelle berries were awfully heavy for the sleek leaves, so they were wrong too.  OF COURSE.  I think this was just that kind of project.  Although, I often do things so many times it makes me dizzy, so maybe because (like childbirth) while it's fresh, you remember all the agony, and then later on, you think... maybe another baby would be nice.  Anyhow...

Also, I thought the placement of the hips was just too perfect and inorganic.  I removed the hip tips, and put in more hips with just a tiny Czech rondelle and a gold picot, and did it as randomly as I could, although they arrange themselves despite my efforts to be organic.

So, finally, I like the dang thing!

And a back view, for structure.

Did you make it through all the angst?  I don't blame you if you didn't, because I nearly gave up several times.  But I am glad I didn't.  Happy beady trails to you!

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Aflame" and Friends

I have been playing with chenille stitch and gradation for over a year, and find there is a nice depth in working with the same idea over an extended period.  Part this work is the rope above, published in the October 2016 Bead & Button Magazine.

I submitted the project with a maple leaf pendant, employing the same gradation, but only the rope was chosen for publication.  One nice thing about working with Bead & Button is, although you cannot publish your accepted project anywhere else before they do, afterward, you may submit it for publication elsewhere, or self-publish, which I have done in my Etsy shop.  I have published a tutorial for the leaf, rope, and bail here, as well as a kit in the "Aflame" colors shown above.

I think they play nicely together, and really like the flame-ish aspect of the whole.  I tried to combine both the colors of the leaves I pick up on my daily walks, with the colors in the bonfires I find so appealing in my fire pit in the fall.  I love the crisp cool air on my back and toasty toes, and the blue-purple embers at the edges of the fire.  I tried to roll all of the juicy goodness of Autumn together into this work.

I worked up two other colorways to include in my tutorial.  I realize that "Aflame" is a very bold piece with bright colors.  So I did a much more subtle version.  This is "Singe". I made up jest a few kits in this color group, since the investment in the 24k beads is substantial.  They are available here!

It represents the leaves of the Silver Maples that fill my yard, which go almost directly from green to coppery topaz, bypassing all the reds and oranges of the Sugar Maples in the neighbor's yards.  They always seem a little burnt to me.  But they have their own beauty, and the colorway has more a feeling of proper jewelry, (a bit less fantastical than bold "Aflame") given the 24k gold edges and accents in the rope.

And then, there is "Psychedelic Scarab".  OK, get out the mushrooms. This might be a tribute to my coming of age in the early '70's. I had a few Scarabeus Green Swarovski beetles left over from a dressmaking project, and the color in that little piece of glass was pretty awesome.

I added a beetle to the bail, and despite the "tripiness" of the colors in the leaf, this baby looks awesome worn with either of my two cobalt blue tops, and turns heads. Ladies who share my table while I am sipping my tea at the farmer's market demand I take it off for closer examination. I have to admit, it might be my favorite.  And the ROPE!  The kit for this color is here in my Etsy shop.

Both pieces (rope and leaf) could also be worn separately, and I have made a few leaves as samples for another, larger project, which I am also selling in my shop.

These leaves use the same pattern, MOSTLY.  I have scaled the bail down for the thinner rope. As you might notice, I take liberties with the exact placement of the beads as I work this pattern.  You can bead both sides symmetrically if you like, but in my world, it looks much more natural if each side is a little different.  I suggest in my pattern that when you lay out the second side, you use the beads I suggest, but switch a few with their neighbors.  In my samples, I have fiddled further than that, and changed a few edges a bit, but it's nice to know that once you have the shape established, you can play with color placement to your hearts content.  I really look forward to seeing what you all will do with this pattern.

I hope your will enjoy the curly-edged, ripply-centered, funky shape of this project too, which also keeps the leaves looking realistic!

Happy Autumn to you!  I hope you will enjoy making your very own leaf pile!