Monday, January 30, 2012

Good (and Tiny) Things Come in Small Packages

VERY good things come in small packages. Especially when the packages contain beads. And most especially when they come from my Etsy friend Shannon.

I hadn't really begun this year with the intent to purchase beads. After all, I have millions of them. Seriously. Beads of just about every size imaginable, in every color imaginable. POUNDS of Delicas. And even more seed beads, all recently sorted into bins by color.

But that all changed when I was contacted by someone who asked me if I could create a very special bead crochet rope using size 15/0 beads (eegads!). Initially the request was for silver and black, but with the notoriously unstable finishes on most silver beads (even the real silver ones are susceptible to tarnish), I went on a quest to find some uncommon beads. Something beautiful. Something rich. Something awesome. And my very first place to look was in Shannon's shop, beadsandbabble. That's where I saw these drop-dead gorgeous 24k brushed gold size 15/0 charlottes (beads with a single facet). Don't they look delicious???

Well, I promptly sent the link to the potential customer to see what she thought, and apparently she also fell in love with them because she changed her mind about the silver and black rope and opted to have a rope made just from these. One loooooooooooong rope. Did I mention that these are size 15/0? That's small. Very small.

Since I don't like starting a custom order without having at least an inkling of what I'm about to tackle, I decided to take out some of the size 15/0 beads I have (remember that massive collection I mentioned?) and make a rope. You can see here how the size of this rope, which is made with hematite and metallic red, compares with ropes made from size 11/0 beads and size 8/0 beads (both of these ropes happen to also be made from beads I bought from Shannon's shop). These ropes are all crocheted with five beads around. What a difference! The rope made from the size 15/0 beads is only slightly more than 1/8" in diameter. Whew!

The next big dilemma was availability of the chosen beads. I contacted Shannon to see how many of the size 15/0 24k brushed gold beads she had on hand and also to see if she knew how many beads there are in a 5-gram package, and it turned out that I would need almost 50 grams of these little beauties for the rope length requested. Holy moly.

Now the awesome thing (well, one of them) about Shannon is that rather than just tell me she didn't have enough of the beads, she contacted her supplier and put in a special order so she could meet my needs. And in today's mail, I received a BIG package with a bunch of SMALL packages inside. Lots and lots of beady goodness, including the 50 grams of beads I need for the 24k gold rope. :-)

But first... I need to finish another project, a set of bead crochet ropes using [relatively huge] size 11/0 beads in a design I developed to coordinate with the pattern in a picture sent to me by the customer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Off to a Pretty Good Start

How's your year going so far? Good, I hope. :-)

It's the 10th of the month (!), and although I'm not getting all the things done that I wanted to (I always overestimate just how much I can do in a 24-hour period), I'm pretty happy with progress in general.

We've made some progress on the house (no matter how much I may want to play with my beads, the house takes priority over everything else!). The insulation contractor finished work yesterday, so it's ready for inspection tomorrow. The drywall contractor tracked down the best price he could for us for the drywall we need, so that'll be ordered today. The carpenters (have I mentioned how much we love these guys?) finished the siding on the front gable, finished the back deck, finished the soffit over the carport, and did the trimming around the deck posts. It looks AWESOME! We just have to wait for some more deck lumber to finish the front deck, since the supply place sent the wrong material.

One thing we're both really excited about is finding the wood flooring we're going to use. We thought we had that picked out months ago, but after seeing the space and thinking about it more we decided the #2 hickory would be too busy - all those knots and variations in color would be a little over the top. So we went on a quest to find something more sedate and possibly something a little less expensive than the original $5.95 per square foot price. Off we went last week to begin the new search...

On Thursday, we found an engineered flooring made of maple that we both liked, at $4.65/square foot. Not bad. But we weren't thrilled with the engineered flooring, since it's only 1/2" thick and Pat built the stairs based on using 3/4" flooring. Not a huge deal, but we really wanted the 3/4" stuff to help stiffen the floor overall, since it's such a big space.

On Saturday, we continued the search at Lumber Liquidators and found some select maple flooring, 4" wide and 3/4" thick, that we liked. At $4.09/square foot, it beat out Thursday's find; but we decided to try one last place.

So on Monday we went to visit one last place. The last place we visited was the Asheville Hardwood Center, which was actually the first place we had visited months ago, but we were going in with something different in mind - prefinished flooring vs. unfinished (part of the $5.95 cost was having the floor sanded, stained, and finished with three coats of polyurethane). We walked in the door of the Asheville Hardwood Center and started looking at the prefinished flooring. Right off the bat we were disappointed to see that the prices were all higher than the $4.09, but then we started talking to the sales guy... after he heard what we were looking for, he pointed us in the direction of some 5" x 3/4" select hickory that was marked down to a special price because they had limited inventory. The price $3.25/square foot!!!! Woo hoo!!!! They don't have quite enough for us to do the whole floor, but they have some 3-1/4" stock that's also on sale, the same wood and finish in a narrower width, so we'll have a room that where we alternate the sizes. We're so excited about being able to save all that money and still get what we want that we can hardly believe it. (The picture here is from the flooring manufacturer's website.)

Now on the beady side of things, even with all the house stuff going on I've been beading away and also working on getting some more patterns published. The pattern for Diametric is available here on my blog and also in my Etsy shop.

If you purchase patterns here on my blog, you'll find that the prices are lower (yay!) and that they're available for immediate download - no waiting for me to email them to you. Payment is via PayPal, so you're safe and secure. :-)

I'm working on getting at least one or two more patterns published by the end of the week, so stay tuned.

I've also been beading. Surprise surprise. I actually began the year by recreating two of my popular pieces, both bead crochet ropes.

is a 70" long bead crochet rope made from size 10/0 and 11/0 Czech glass beads with a picasso finish. I love love love these beads! They have such gorgeous colors, and the finish on them makes them look like semiprecious stones.

This is the third version of this particular colorway, and as I do with many of my ropes, I alternated between patterned sections and sections made from just a blend of the four colors of beads.

One of the other new pieces I've made is a recreation of Mulberries and Heavy Cream. The beads in this rope are soooo pretty! They're size 8/0 Czech glass seed beads in a creamy offwhite that resembles the finish on a pearl and a slightly metallic looking deep burgundy with a single facet. There's such sparkle and shine!

This rope, like its predecessor, is crocheted in sections of pattern. There are five different designs , from spiraling stripes to tiny diamonds, speckles, and a couple of others I'm not sure how to describe.

At 58" long it can be worn in a whole bunch of different ways, and with all the patterns it can look different just by moving a different section to the front.

There are some more finished pieces sitting here waiting to be photographed so they can make their debut... Since we're still living in the "dark" house until the new house is finished, it's still a challenge to find just the right light for photographing finished work.

Time to head out for some shopping. On today's list? We need a 12' ladder. Because apparently, we just can't do what we need to do with the 4', 6', 8', 10', 16', 28', and 32' ladders we already own! Sheesh.