I’ve been busy crafting the last couple of weeks, this time focusing on my beads and my tools. For starters, I’ve finally found the time and the will to go through my loose bead bins. I have made it a habit to have small tubs to collect loose beads in when I work with bigger batches. Sometimes, I end up collecting them in my work trays and then just pour them into the bins. During several previous clean ups, I’ve sometimes managed to separate the freshwater pearls from the gemstones from the Czech pressed glass and metal findings.
I’ve been sorting individual organizers a bin at a time, actually gathering jumprings and putting the clasps and the eyepins and other headpins in separate containers. Yes, I’m getting organized in a major way. I have been pleasantly surprised to discover strings of beads I had all but forgotten I had, and while I’m excited to do something with each find, I need to get them all sorted out first.
One of my favorite suppliers is Fire Mountain Gems which has assortable pricing that progressively goes down depending on the number of items you buy. This usually makes a difference when buying regular price items which can be pulled down dramatically when you purchase at certain price levels. In addition, when they go on sale, they REALLY go on sale. The only thing is you have to trust your visuals. That can be tough when you’re looking at gemstones, but you have to pay attention to dimensions and string size.
I have always found it helpful to have an actual ruler in front of me when I am shopping online for beads and other materials. It helps me visualize the size of the bead. A 6mm round bead is not much different from an 8mm so it helps to actually see the bars that make a difference on that ruler.
During one of those sales, there was a bead mix that was on sale for 25 cents per pack, with the catch that you had to purchase a minimum of 8 packs of 125 beads . I’ve purchased a set of amethyst chips in the same packaging, and the quality wasn’t bad for the price I had paid. At the time I made the purchase, I was thinking of actually embellishing brooches and my clutch purse with gemstones and shell beads. The idea was to get beads small enough to embroider or sew into something else. And how can you argue with the price? I went for 2 batches or 16 orders of the assortment.
I had to go and unstring the beads and sort them by kind. The amethyst and rose quartz were quite the find, along with the green aventurine and prehnite in the batch. The strings aren’t labeled, so unless you know how to eyeball a gemstone, you will end up going by color.
I had ordered these in July of last year but didn’t start unpacking each little bag until earlier this month. I would say I got lucky with this buy. You would have to have the patience to sort through the beads because the size and quality varied from string to string, but they all came together after they had been unstrung and sorted out. It also helps me in creative process to actually go through the loose beads laid out flat on a tray.
Here’s what I can up with — gem stacks in various sizes.
Square flat beads in green aventurine.. the stack wasn’t hard to imagine, but it meant finding the same cut in all the strings. It takes some patience to actually unstring the beads and lay them all out on a plate or pad so you can see them side by side. That’s my design process, and that might not work for everyone.
I tried to group them by shapes, then by size. These are chips and irregularly shaped and sized, so it takes a bit of effort, but once you find the designs forming in your head, it is actually a good way of letting your creativity loose to pull a design you can work on.
There were also a sizeable chunk of prehnite beads which, at first, I thought were tourmalinated quartz because of the strings of black streaks. But no, they turned out to be the former. I have had a lot of fun working with the chips. Sometimes I find it uncanny how design ideas don’t come to me until I unstrung the beads and actually hold the individual pieces.
I guess we each have our own creative process we follow with our creations. Mine has certainly evolved through the years, more so when I find old pieces from my early years, even if only in pictures. I haven’t posted any in the shop for sale yet. I am earmarking these for my #Giftof50 giveaways on the main blog.