Where’s The Bead?

The name of this blog is Border Collies and Beads. So I’m sure someone is asking where are the beads?  No, the Border Collies didn’t eat them.  Actually the economy and boredom are the main reasons for my diminished beading obsession.  When I was slaving away at my County job, supposedly working but actually day dreaming, thoughts of stitching dog themed peyote stitch amulet bags filled the imaginary balloon over my head.  You know, the balloon that you see in cartoons that contains the character’s thoughts?  Until the boss came by to stick a needle in my daydreaming balloon I saw myself making many beautiful beaded jewelry items if only I had time.  Fast forward to now where I have lots of time.  Several Golden Retriever peyote necklaces fill my jewelry boxes as well as a Beagle, Australian Shepherd, and a Santa, with plans for a peyote stitched Hummingbird bag, white cat, husky and seascape. Enough already.  Time for a break from peyote stitched necklaces. 

Every other month both Bead and Button and Beadwork magazines are delivered to my door, with email notices from beadingdaily.com, artbeads.com, fusionbeads.com and firemountaingems.com arriving almost daily to my computer.  Sometimes I grit my teeth and delete the emails without reviewing them.  It’s just visual eye candy and sends me into attention deficit mayhem.  I want to do this project, or that one, or better yet, that one! 

But the economy has really hit the jewelry making hobbyist hard.  Stores have closed or downsized, so no instant gratification trips to touch and feel the beads and dream of drop dead gorgeous crystal configurations around my neck.  Now people like me order online and take advantage of sales and free shipping and no taxes (so far).  The end result is a craft area filled with leftovers from various projects and no nearby classes to share ideas with other beaders.

Star Fruit Bracelet designed by Heather Kahn

  The August/September issue of Beadwork magazine has three beautiful Swarovski crystal bracelets on the cover.  As I walked down my driveway looking at the directions for that cover pattern my mind was salivating already.  The pattern calls for about 124 Swarovski crystals of various sizes and size 15 and 11 seed beads, as well as beading thread, jump rings and a box clasp.  Some of the items I had in stock.  But my order to Fire Mountain Gems came to about $45.  The bracelet in the picture came out great and I love it.  As to where I’ll wear it: who knows.  It definitely isn’t a dog show item.  Were someone interested in buying this bracelet or one like it the normal basis to determine retail cost is to triple the cost of supplies to cover the crafter’s time.  I usually only double my cost.  So that means to make a profit this project would sell for $90.  In this economy not too many people can afford to blow almost $100 on “bling”. 

I’m trying very hard to be frugal this year.  That means keeping an ongoing inventory of my supplies and shopping around on the Internet for the best bead supply prices.  Lately I’ve had to skip some magazine’s designs because of the cost, although it came to me recently to do parts of a project, buying the more expensive gems later on. 

Last year I decided to try making chain maille bracelets and necklaces.  Screech!  Have you checked out the price of sterling silver and gold jump rings? A catalog next to me lists 14Kt Gold filled jump rings at $7 to $20 for ten rings.  Just the supplies can run over a hundred dollars.  At a recent bead show I saw some finished chain maille jewelry made with real sterling silver.  There is no comparison to the silver plated or gold plated brass that I have used.  Then again, most people don’t scrutinize my beadwork that close.  It still looks pretty slick.  The picture of a simple design I made, shown here, only cost about $17 including shipping and handling. 

That leaves me back with my seed beads which cost from $2.50 to $11 for 7.5 grams per color.  Those little diamonds in the rough, as I call them, can be used  not only in peyote stitched patterns but herringbone, right angle weave, square stitch, netting, etc.  My eyes are glazing over already and my mind is salivating again.  Think Homer Simpson and you’ll get the picture.

Keep in mind that I already have another expensive hobby, two Border Collies who are sending me telepathic signals as I write this to, “Step away from the craft table.  Walk me now. Throw the ball.  Throw the ball.”  I must end this now and clear my mind for these strange canine demands filling my head.

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