I had a hard time picking the boro back up last week. But over the weekend, I summoned up some tiger blood, and now, I’m winning inside of every moment. Ya’ll can’t hang with me. Try to process me, and your bones will melt like wax. (sorry, I couldn’t resist using a charlie-ism, it was the perfect context. We are getting so trolled, you guys.) I worked for about 12 hours and made about 15 boro beads yesterday, and plan to work double time until the end of the month (or maybe into the first week of April) to get it all done.
one of my long gone favorites
I haven’t been to Hobby Lobby or Michael’s in I don’t know how long, so Mom and I went on Saturday. But first, we hit Hancock Fabrics. I always liked Conso nylon upholstery thread for my beading loom warp and nymo for the weft. I looked around for the Conso, I always bought that at Hancock, but they now only carry two or three brands of thread, and Conso isn’t one of them. I guess they had to make room for all those cake decorating supplies and crappy lampwork beads with metal glued into the holes. Crimony. I found a comparable substitute for Conso by Coats & Clark, but still found myself a bit irked at how things have changed so much over the last 15 years. You used to be able to walk into a store like Hancock’s and find the best product for the job, no matter what brand it was.
Nowadays, it’s all about brands and bedfellows. Don’t get me started on how I can’t get sales receipt books, steno pads, Poppycock or Sea Breeze at Target, because Office Depot and Walgreens, located directly east and west of Target, all in the same parking lot, carry those items. The clerks on the floor at Target will specifically direct you to those places for those items. Fine, but if those three stores were following that logic faithfully, Target would eliminate their entire stationery, office, and over the counter drug/pharmacy departments, and Walgreens would stop selling toys, school/office supplies and snacks, and Office Depot would stop selling candy and cameras. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like to drive to one place, get everything I need, and go home. I know I’m not going to be able to get a prescription filled at Office Depot, but the fact that I can’t get a bottle of Sea Breeze at Target completely puzzles me. (sorry. I guess I got myself started on that.)
Next was Hobby Lobby. For a short while they sold Delicas, but they don’t any more. They have tubes of misshapen (labeled as High Quality) Chinese seed beads strategically placed with the tubes of Czech seed beads. (Which they don’t classify as High Quality, even though the quality far exceeds that of the Chinese seed beads. Further encouragement to read labels.) I’m not sure if there’s any real difference between the Czech beads in tubes and the nice hanks you can buy at the bead store, since I’ve never really compared them – but for the price, selection and better lighting, I’d rather have a hank from the locally owned bead shops. Hobby Lobby now sells Soft Flex, which is getting harder to find at the local bead shops. I’m not sure if they feel the price of Soft Flex is too high for them or their customer base, or that they can’t compete with Hobby Lobby, but I definitely prefer Soft Flex and Acculon (also hard to find locally) to the Griffin and Beadalon. As usual, HL is selling large fused and lampwork glass pendants, and many of them have cracks in them. You know where those are from… but they also have Swarovski rhinestones and beads. I guess they’re vaguely covering the whole range, and for anyone who is just starting out with beads, it’s a good place to jump off.
Now, for Michaels. I have to say, Michaels really impressed me this time. The lady working in the bead section knew the beads and the brands and helped me find some good storage containers, which was what I set out for that day. The Bead Gallery line had some interesting beads, a good bit of agate, ceramics, and of course, lampwork, but not very much lampwork compared to the rest. Everything was made in China. I was disappointed to find that they were no longer selling the Paula Radke dichro beads. Too expensive for the Michael’s crowd, maybe? Or maybe I’m confused and they didn’t have them to begin with. I didn’t find any Czech beads, either – instead, I found Toho and Toho Treasures. I guess Treasures are their answer to Delicas. I like Japanese seed beads as much as I like the Czech, but have honestly found little use for Delicas. Even though the colors are simply the best.
I find myself lamenting the dwindling availability of Indian lampwork. I remember buying those when I first got into beads. I bought mostly small cubes and rounds – they had wonderful greens – and the fancy (what we called) wedding cake beads, decorated with delicate goldstone stringer. I wonder if the Venetians were making those first? I guess India can’t compete with the Chinese, either. Comparing the two, the Indian lampwork somehow had more character, and I don’t recall any of them breaking in half on me. I’m sure some did, but not at the same rate as Chinese lampwork. Another thing I miss from the old days is GICK beads. You could get them at most fabric stores and Michaels and Hobby Lobby, and the individual stores within each entity all had something different in the way of GICK. GICK packaged everything from Japanese seed and bugle beads to Czech druks to Indian lampwork in those little square stackable containers. The containers didn’t always elegantly stack, but it was so much fun to go to all the different stores and look at the GICK rack and find something new every time. It was even better to see an orange clearance sticker on the bottom, particularly when I was using my lunch money to buy them. There was no finer sound in the world than multiple GICK squares clicking together inside a plastic bag on the way out to the car, with a buck sixty left over for a soft taco supreme, pintos and cheese and small ice water from Taco Bell. Times sure have changed.
Thanks for reading… I’m thinking ETSY tomorrow, so keep an eye out.
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