Welcome to Bead Week at Crafty Manolo! All week long we’ll be talking about where to buy them, how to use them, beads in history, and, well, whatever else I can think of having to do with beads.
I love beads. They’re pretty, they’re fun to play with, and you can usually pick up a fair number for a relatively small amount of cash. Today I thought I would share a few favorite sources of gorgeous beads.
The one above is a lampwork bead from Shipwreck Beads. It’s a 27mm dichroic glass bead in shades of blue with a 2mm hole. I love the color, the shape, and the subtle sparkle in it. The price? A quite reasonable $9.99 each.
Shipwreck carries a wide variety of gorgeous beads (glass, wood, ceramic, Swarovski crystal, gemstones, and many, many more materials), findings, tools, books, and even finished pieces of jewelry. If you need a bead or a way to use it, this is a great place to start.
One of my favorite places to get random lots or bulk beads is Amazon.
For instance, this batch of 1000 22k gold 3mm beads is on sale for just $7.85 (list $17.99)! If you use a lot of small spacer beads, as I do when spangling bobbins, or when using beads in my wire bobbin lace, this is the sort of deal you can’t pass up.
Fire Mountain Gems has been a quality supplier of beads and beading equipment since the 1970s, and continues giving great deals to this day. They’re also a source to the public of ‘promotional quality’ stones. What does that mean? Well, they’re the irregulars of beads. A few on each strand will have a flat side or a small chip or a mis-drilled hole that makes them less than ideal for many purposes. But if you go through a lot of beads, you can save some money getting these slightly inconsistent beads, and save up the ones you aren’t going to put in your usual projects for something else where it won’t matter.
How much do you save? Well, for the package of ten 16″ strings of 8mm sodalite beads pictured above, you’ll pay just $46.77. You do the math. Yes, you do have to get them in bulk like that. But if you go through a lot of beads or have a group who can go in together to purchase beads, it’s a really great deal. Also, the more beads you buy, the lower the price per set falls.
Oh, and be sure to check out their jewelry making contests page for possible prizes and some great inspiration!
Last but certainly not least, I have to mention my hometown bead store Bead Inspirations. Not only is it an inviting shop to visit, they have a lovely selection of focal beads that delights me every time I go there. Take, for instance, this charming cloisonne ladybug. At $2.50 for this nicely detailed 18mm bead, I think it’s a rather decent deal. It’s certainly pretty. And having seen it up close and personal, I can vouch for the quality, too. Plus there’s free shipping on orders of $10.00 or more.
Oh, and if you happen to live in or near Alameda, Ca, you should know Bead Inspirations holds lots of classes at reasonable prices. The line up changes frequently, so be sure to check back. Also, if you live in the area and have or work with children, you might want to hire them for one of their beading parties. They’ll teach kids seven and up to make a simple necklace or bracelet. I don’t know about you, but I would have loved one of these parties when I was a kid.
Does anyone else have a great bead supplier to share with the class?