Goodness gracious. It’s been 25 days since my last post. It seems like about 5 days. But who was counting? Not me. Beads and jewelry are my livelihood, my hobby and my passion and I can only escape one by picking up the other. It has become increasingly more difficult to get away from any of them long enough to let everyone know I’m still breathing. At least on my blog. It doesn’t take nearly as long for me to reply to your emails, which I’ve been enjoying as well!
But the news is good: I’ve been productive. I’m on a boro binge and I made some jewelry. Additionally, you haven’t heard much from me because my computer has been randomly blue-screening and the error messages have been about as cryptic as computer error messages typically are. (Oh great, it happened again when I was working on this. Thank goodness for auto save.) We’ve determined that the computer is just old and unless we want to kill our wallets with computer part roulette, we’ll have to live with it. In other words, I’ve been ignoring the heck out of my computer and spending much more time at the various benches.
I’m also pretty darned sad. OKC lost another bead store, Elements Beadery, last weekend. (We lost another one, the Spiral, last summer.) I knew they were discussing closing up shop for a while, but last I heard they weren’t sure. Then mom was in the area Saturday before last and called me from her cell phone (it’s gotta be really important if she’s using her pay-as-you-go) and told me everything in the store was 70% off and that they were going out of business. I was surprised, of course, and Mom said she’d come and get me and we would go back out there.
We went in and I saw the owner, Pat, and I was surprised not to see her daughter Toni. I missed a lot over the last several months – Toni moved to Dallas and when I heard that I was even more disappointed because Toni had mentioned opening her own shop once Elements was put to rest. But she’ll be moving back and perhaps that’s a possibility somewhere off in the future. The only thing I know for sure is that I had to hold back tears – I didn’t want to blur the labels on the size 15 Miyukis. Pat reassured me that this was a happy transition for her. It made me feel better for her, but I was no less sad. I am extremely attached to Elements for a number of reasons.
I believe Elements opened their store in 1996. I frequented Nomadic Notions after I found out there were bead stores – I must not have found Elements in the phone book when I first started hunting for bead stores. The main staff at NN never bothered to tell me about Elements. Then a new hire named Rachel told me all about it and was floored that I didn’t know about them. She told me that if I liked seed beads I shouldn’t hesitate to pay them a visit.
The first time I visited Elements was on an extremely cold February day in 1997. That was where I discovered Delicas, size 15 seed beads and eventually, the square stitch. Until that point, I had been stuck with Nomadic Notions’ lax definition of size 10 Czech seed beads and was extremely frustrated with my peyote and loomwork bulging in width in some areas and shrinking in others. When I found the size 15/o Miyukis in colors I had never dared dream of, I was determined to find a use for them. Opalescent silverlined, sea foam green, bright fuschia!? And they were so cheap in those itty bitty tubes that even a mostly jobless young’in like me could afford them when Grandma slipped me a $10 under the placemat. And the Delicas! Yes, a bit more pricey than your standard seed bead, but the COLORS! The UNIFORMITY! And then I discovered square stitch – I saw a bracelet made from tube shaped beaded beads in the display case and I had to know all about them, and that’s when they sold me a copy of Carol Wilcox Wells’ Creative Beadweaving. I could hardly believe what I was reading; I no longer needed a LOOM! And so many different ways to do peyote! And what’s this brick stitch?! It’s awesome, that’s what.
For a long time, a most beautiful necklace made of artisan lampwork sat by the register. I admired it every time I went in – the beads had dots, dichro and deep encasement in yellows and ambers. Once I realized what that was, along with my new discovery of the lampwork process, Pat told me a few things about the start-up and warned that beadmaking was not a cheap way to entertain myself. (But once I got a job, I earned enough for a hot head and a few rods and down the rabbit hole I went.) They were always so helpful at Elements – I learned so much from Toni and Pat and I even sold a handful of my lampwork beads there.
It’s important to support your local bead stores. The prices may be higher than at shows and online in some cases (but in some cases, not). The truth is, you’re paying that little extra bit for the knowledge they share, their sources for beads you might not have access to otherwise and honestly, their ability to do what they love and share it with us in a way that can’t be shared any other way. I suppose the heaviest bulk of my sadness lies in the possibility that this could be indicative of an end to an era. Two of the strongest local shops in OKC are gone within 6 months of one another. I’m reasonably sure the circumstances surrounding the closing of both shops weren’t necessarily financially related – The Spiral closed because the owner Linda decided to move to Alabama around the time the powers that be decided to widen the street and basically eliminate all of her parking.
We had some of the best bead stores here. We still have one very established store, Alouette, and lordy doodle I could spend a lot of time and money in THERE but she’s way off in Midwest City. Thank goodness. But I hope that maybe someone will step in and open another one. Who knows, maybe some day that someone will be me. (But please don’t hold me to that, retail is NOT my forte.)
In other news, I made some cool stuff.
Cool Thing #1: A ring for my stylist. They called this stone ametrine, likely very low grade ametrine if it is:
Cool Thing #2 – The Scandanavian Nightmare Bejewelled Spike. I got lucky – the sterling housing was made for something else that went awry, but was a perfect fit for this spiky stripey bead so I was able to save all of that work (and silver!). I made this with the intention of making it into a necklace – probably wire-wrapped bead chain – but I’m not sure yet.
Cool Thing #3 – Safety Pin. Not just any safety pin, a big-ass safety pin. Around 3″ long.
My step-mom gave me a very large safety pin (bottom) many years ago, and I’ve treasured it. Unfortunately, it was made of or coated with something that I was very allergic to and I had a hard time wearing it, but I loved it so much I rarely let that stop me. I have been wanting to make one in sterling since I started working with metal but couldn’t really figure out how to make the cap part. I would have made one with wire only, but those are a bit more commonplace and I enjoy a challenge.
Since it would be used for beads, as a last thought I added the hole at the top so that chain could be looped through. I even filed the wire to a point (not shown). I might make a few more of these… next time I’ll make the cap part from heavier gauge metal.
Cool Thing #4 – Aquamarine ring.
Unconventional Lapidarist cut this aquamarine. I saw it at their booth and fell in love with it. Then I found out how much it cost. EEK! Mom saw how much I loved it and paid for a good portion of it after I promised to keep it for myself, and after I made her promise not to get me anything for my birthday or Christmas last year. I thought about what I would do with this stone for months, and finally came up with a plan. I couldn’t believe how well I did with the making of the bezel and setting the stone.
Cool thing #5 – a ring made from one of my foil cabochons:
This ring is very striking on the finger. The setting and stone are not too big and not too small. The hazy lavender is quite an interesting color. In fluorescent light, and if there is no natural or incandescent light present, it turns a very unusual purplish periwinkle grey-blue with almost a UV illuminated uranium sort of quality. Almost impossible to describe. However, in natural light, it’s the color seen above. I’ll be putting this one on Etsy soon enough, unless someone wants to save me the trouble and listing fees. If you’re interested give me a holler.
And hopefully, before too many more days pass, I’ll have another blog and etsy update for you. I’ll be fairly busy with orders as soon as I’m done with the big boro binge, but I’ll surely find some time to make a few me-time beads.
Thanks for checking in!