Friday, May 3, 2013

Freeform Friday - Austin Texas!

 Last week I was in Austin visiting family. My sister - creative soul, blog authoress, etiquette maven, mother to Jack (age 3) lives there, as do our parents. Our vacation started with a weekend for my husband at the Moto GP races - he is a motorcycle rider and co-author of The Pace podcast. The vacation ended with a party that my 3 siblings and I threw for our parent's 50th Anniversary. Needless to say fun was had by all! Its a pleasure when the whole family gets together! ( I am serious here. For real.)

What does this have to do with artists? beads? jewelry? I hear your questions and will get to the point. I wanted a second reason to visit bead stores. The first reason - to shop - was valid, but I don't NEED anything, and am on a tight budget. So a blog post? A second valid reason? OK!

The first stop was Legendary Beads.  

My thoughts: This is a good basic bead store. It is on the small side but they have some of everything; strands, Czech glass, gemstones, findings, wire, tools, chain. Plenty of loose beads if you need just a little something.(I didn't see many artisan components, but that didn't really surprise me. ) They have a workspace set up, and their website lists small classes (Limit 5) for repair, stringing, private lessons.

Pros: multiple needs met. Helpful staff. Variety.
Cons: small size=limited inventory. Class space tiny, and right at front door.
Rating: Normal- very good.

Second Stop: Bead it!

This store is like a Tardis. (Dr. Who humor - bigger on the inside.)  An adorable bungalow with parking, its located a block or so from Legendary Beads. This is the store that has all the things you never imagined needing because you never knew they existed. Ample quantities of pearls and gems in a plethora of colors. Czech glass modern and vintage. A wall of chain. Antique beads, vintage glass cabs, ribbons, notions... Vintage stampings! Sari fabric on the work tables in the Large and comfy class room! Layer upon layer of eye candy.
(Oh sorry. I don't sound very objective. This store is the mixed media artist's favorite. Could you tell?)

Pros: Unusual finds, huge selection, antique and vintage selection, unusual finds... Great people to chat with... Hip.
Cons: no real seed beads. Spend alot of money.
Rating: Quirky. Fab.

Third stop: Sea of Beads

Seed beaders! Its your store... oh they had great Czech glass and the standard supply of gem strands - anything you could want, but the seed beads here were the win. every shape and color, a diverse class class curriculum, a open yet separate class space... Daggers, lentils, faceted, small, large, triangles, hexes... Very friendly staff - in fact a customer came in while I was there to bead and hang out. The store is spacious, flooded with natural light. Plenty of loose beads as well as strands. Findings - I neglected this category here. Oops. 
Pros: good selection. Sea of seed beads! Friendly people. 
Cons: not as well stocked for wire, metal. 
Rating: Normal. Great. 

And what did I actually buy? Here's my loot - labeled by store for the curious. My mother requested a long green necklace - and Mothers Day is around the corner. So the abundance of green was with her piece in mind. 
Top row - Stampings, vintage and wood blocks: Bead it!
Second row left - seed beads, gems, pearls and Czech: Legendary Beads
Second row right: Czech and kyanite: Sea of Beads

Next time you are in Austin - don't miss the BBQ, the S. Congress St Bats - and the bead stores!



  1. I totally got the Dr Who reference before you even explained it. One of my favorite shows.

    Austin is so lucky to have so many bead shops. We have Michaels, Jo Anns and Hobby Lobby. Not a very good selection...I love your reviews and I love the idea of suffering through bead shopping in different locales to write reviews.

    Sounds like a wonderful vacation with family. Look forward to seeing what you made for mom.

    1. The big box stores are my go-to only in a pinch. I am not confident in their quality and I have seen too many bead lines copy artisan bead makers designs. I dont really have any bead stores where I live - so its a treat to shop and browse. I tend to do my shopping at the big shows, and then online from vendors and artists I can trust.

  2. What a great post!!I love seeing pictures of other bead stores and their loot! We have the regular box stores here for beads and there is a really good store in a city about 30 miles away but the prices are pretty high for what we charge for our designs. If you are interested in the only real bead store near me the name of the store is Gierek's, the owner is Linda Gierek. She is a lampwork artist I think. Great store and wonderful beads. Really love the stores you showed and all the wonderful pieces you picked up!!! Have a blessed day!

  3. You bought seeds!!!!!!! I am so happy you had a great time and I love your shop summaries and ratings!!!!

    1. I LOVE seed beads. I am not good friends with things requiring bead needles...

  4. I'm drolling .... vintage wood stamps!!!

  5. I agree with Jennifer! What torture ;) Fun those wooden stamps!

  6. Fantastic shops! I love those in vintage stamps!

  7. Thanks all! Sorry I was late in responding - away at a show all weekend. It was a tough job, but this intrepid AJE reporter thought it needed to be done! Will be testing those stamps tomorrow!


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