First I would like to qualify this post by saying this is what I have learned and is totally my opinion.
When I first started beading I shopped at local big name craft supply stores. I purchased those big bags of seed beads and all the lampwork beads I could. Frustration for me soon followed when I discovered that all that $ was truly wasted. The seeds did not keep their color and the lampwork pieces were frankly horrible to incorporate because they would either not be uniform or the holes would break the thread. I would have pictures of them but I ended up trashing all those early pieces out of complete frustration an I nearly quit beading.
Starting my blog and coming across a local bead shop I discovered that there were quality seed beads out there but they came in such tiny containers and the prices scared me. I was and still am on a fairly tight bead budget so it was a bit intimidating to only be getting 1/2 of what I was getting for the same cost. How can that be? Well it can be because the Toho and Miyuki seed beads that are out there are mostly beautifully made and their colors are steadfast and the uniformity is amazing. Now I am really kinda proud to say I am a seed bead snob and there is a reason for that. I am totally confident that the pieces I create with them are uniform and I know they will stand the test of time.
Now with the introduction of FB in my life I discovered the same issues in artisan beads. Well actually I discovered artisan beads. When I first started wanting to incorporate them I was overwhelmed. I saw so much beauty and then I would see the price and say "OMG how can they charge that much" and I would search for something comparable at a lesser price and that usually meant I would also get more for the same price. How cool was that? Well it wasn't cool at all. I found once again that there is quantity versus quality. I was once again drawn into the wasting $ pit.
|Here are only some of my favorite artisan pieces.|
Why am I telling you all this? Because I would like to save you the frustration and waste I suffered. This is what I want you to ask yourself when you start purchasing beads and artisan accents for yourself and hopefully it will stop you from making the same mistakes.
1. Is is from a "Big Box"? I am not saying that all their beads are bad but you need to really look at what you are purchasing and what you want to use it for. Will it stand the test of time? Will it fade or scratch? Will it hold its shape? I do not recommend purchasing seed beads because the amount of waste from culling is incredible.
2. Is is from an ETSY or other artisan community of shops? You can still find mass production pieces on those sites as well so really read where they get the supplies from and what they are made of. For example crystals. Not all crystals are made the same and if you can get a mass quantity for a cheap price you may want to think twice.
3. Are you on a tight bead budget? I always am but what I have found is that, that piece that you really really love that may indeed cost $25 made by a reputable artist is totally worth saving for. The work that is involved in making these components is really amazing. And if you check out the artisans blog you will most likely find a post or two of how they are created which will also show you how much of an artform they are. For example I took a lampwork class at Corning Museum of Glass and discovered that it is not an easy process to get the glass to work for you. The depth perception needed to insure your bead is forming properly is something I can not do. If you are unsure about a new to you artist, ask your friends who may have purchased. Look at who makes pieces using the artists creations you like ask them why they use them. You will eventually same yourself $ and frustration.
I have been so lucky to have been introduce to may artisan pieces and I will be more than happy to let anyone who asks why I use and frankly covet and dream about them.
I hope this advise helps you and saves you from the traps I have fallen into.