bead madness

It started with Tink, who found a jewelry designer on the web (I’ve looked for the link and can’t find it.) Tink was spending her 10 minute brain-breaks looking at the necklaces this lady made and drooling. Meanwhile, she’d go to a farmer’s market and purchase beaded necklaces from one of the vendors there at $30 or $40 each. A non-work-related friend of mine had long since introduced me to beading as a form of therapy, and the PSquared crew knew that I wore one or two necklaces of my own creation to work. So Tink would walk in with her latest necklace purchase and ask my opinion of it. Inevitably, I was sure that she could have made the same for herself, except possibly better. Then she bought one of the $300+ necklaces from the web from this jewelry designer. If I remember correctly, it was a single strand of red, a combination of coral and garnet and possibly carnelian? I don’t remember exactly, but it was strung on a single wire and was capped at either end with a couple of bali-beads to hide the crimps. Nice stones, don’t get me wrong, but not $300+ worth.

Well, the artist’s time is worth it, but not if you can do it yourself. If you know how to make something, it doesn’t make sense to have someone else make it for you unless there are extenuating circumstances. Besides, this necklace seriously would have taken no more than 15 mins to complete.

Anyway, Tink got tired of hearing me tell her that she could do this stuff on her own, so we met one Saturday morning at Accent Beads. Accent Beads is a little overwhelming. You walk through the door and there are three tables full of strands of pearls to your right, and the walls to your left are covered in hanging strands of various and assorted smooth semi-precious stones, graduated by color. First the pinks turn to purple, then to blue, which turns to green, and that’s one alcove. Pre-strung graduated beads are next, and then the wall turns a corner and you have your clear beads, then black which turns to brown. Brown leads to yellow, yellow to orange and the wall ends in Garnets and carnelian. In the first alcove, standing frames of stainless steel hold the natural-type stones; abalone, mother of pearl and coral. In the second alcove, one stainless steel frame displays the faceted beads, the other the tiniest of beads at 2mm or so. The back wall houses the India-cut stones. The floor-space in the center is full of tables that display relatively inexpensive tubes of semi-precious stones, the chips, the pearls, bali-beads and the tools of the trade. The wall all the way to the right holds the Swarovski crystals. ( The back wall is for the registers and the beads that are too pricy to house out on the floor.

So I get Tink into the store and she freaks. She’s certain that she can’t do this, she isn’t artistic, she has no vision, she has no patience, she doesn’t know what to do, where on earth should she start. Both of our husbands are in tow. They look at each-other and bolt for the door, certain there is coffee to be had somewhere. I suggest that she start out by picking a strand of beads that are relatively chunky and in the color she prefers – the focus of the necklace, as it were. From there, she can add in accents.

She’s swearing the whole time about how I’ve got this preference for tiny beads and she’s too old for tiny beads and she doesn’t have the patience for that kind of crap. But she falls in love with several strands and puts together enough material to build several necklaces. We pick out clasps and so on, and for the amount of fuss she’s made about patience thus far (in spite of my assurance that you really can’t mess it up – you just cut the beads out and start again when you don’t like the way it turns out) I decide that she should probably start with wire vs. hand-knotting. Hand-knotting requires very sharp tweezers and the patience of a day-care operator.

We rush to check-out before the husbands return and see how much we’ve just dropped on beads, then return to my newly-acquired house for a tutorial. It’s hard to tell when Tink is having fun and enjoying herself because her default setting is sardonic, but she stayed through a football game and she managed not to strangle anyone as her team lost because she was too afraid she’d send beads flying. I’m guessing she had fun, as we had several more beading sessions before all hell broke loose.

But by then, I’d had a full-on beading party at my house, complete with Greta, Rooster’s wife, and China-doll, who was the technical expert in the development team (and was as beautiful as a china-doll, complete with flawless skin, and hair as dark and shimmery as a night sky in Mongolia). Tink didn’t make it to that little event. I made the mistake of teaching Greta how to do the hand-knotting, which Tink was quite displeased with, at least until she first poked a hole in her finger with the tweezers and swore a pretty little Italian blue streak.

Now, of course, I have no one to go to the bead store with and am therefore going broke at a significantly slower pace.

bead madness

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