An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gold Dust treasury features Dax's Gold Fire bracelet

Pop by if you get a moment and have a look at the fabulous golden items featured in Art Nomadax's Gold Dust for NYE - Golden Treasures from a Sunburnt Country treasury. It's lovely to have my Gold Fire bracelet featured amongst the talented Australian DUST Etsy team's work.

You might also enjoy the fabulous clothing and accessories of its curator Art Nomadax. http://www.artnomadax.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Two treasuries for Xmas and websites that save time for Etsy shopowners

Woke up on the day after Xmas to find two different Etsy treasuries featuring my work. Pepper Minty: a bit of holiday spice! was a treasury curated by a fellow Etsy Beadweaver - HauteIceBeadwork. She featured my Hot Chilli Ziangle necklace (see photo) . The second treasury was A Southern Spectrum: some vibrant colours to brighten... curated by artnomadix from the Down Under Street Team (DUST) included my Tangerine Fizz necklace (

When I say I woke up to find these two treasuries with my work in them, I didn't just stumble across the information at the bottom of my bed. I found out about the treasuries on (see photo of what it looks like). Craftopolis is a great time saving device for Etsy shopowners. It's one of the free access websites that tells Etsy sellers if they are in a treasury or not at the click of a button. This website also lets you know when treasuries are opening up, how many hearts your shop has, whether or not your items are in an Etsy gift guide. All great time-saving devices. In fact, there are several free time-saving websites for Etsy shopowners on the web. Here are the ones I know of and use:
  • TREASURIES. Craftopolis - - this is the quickest way to check if you are in a treasury or not and when treasuries are opening up.
  • SHOP AND ITEM HEARTS AND VIEWS. Craftcult heartomatic - - this is the quickest way to check your shop and item hearts and item views. It has a great feature that allows you to reset the item views so you know how many new views you have had since a particular date. I find the heartomatic much quicker than a similar function offered on craftopolis.
  • FEATURED ON ETSY - Craftcult - allows you to seet if you have been featured on the Etsy Front Page or in The Storque, and if any of your items are currently in a Gift Guide.
  • CHARTS TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS ON ETSY - Craftcult - also a series of easily created charts so you can track your progress on Etsy in a variety of ways. It can help you learn the gender of your viewers, whether or not they are buyers or sellers and you can see where you peak viewing times have been.
  • STATSY - LOTS OF FEATURES - Statsy - Here you can look for your biggest fan, see if you have been featured on Etsy's front page, track Etsy views in a variety of ways and locate where an item will appear in an Etsy search using your keywords.
Whilst none of these devices directly bring sales they do save time for Etsy sellers who want to understand their visibility on Etsy and who are trying to learn more about their customers and potential customers. More time for making and promoting means more potential sales. If you know of other helpful sites for Etsy sellers I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Beading rarity and the price of a beader’s labour

Some tiny hanks of antique metal beads that a member of my partner’s music group showed me last week have inspired this post. I knew the moment that I saw the tiny bead hanks emerge from their old cigar tin home that I was looking at antique French cut beads.

Most of the tiny size 18/0 beads were still on their original threads in t
heir tiny 2-inch hanks. It was such a pleasure to watch the unmistakable sparkle that their single ground faceted side produced. These beads, often referred to as Charlottes, were first used in France in the 1840s for making beaded purses.

They were also widely used at the turn of the 19th century in Peranakan beading. Peranakan beading is a form of bead embroidery that was used by women of the Chinese community (Peranakan) in the Malaccan Straits to create beaded items for their wedding chambers. These items included wall hangings, pillow covers, slippers, vases and spectacle cases. Peranakan beadwork is highly coloured and uses the most wonderfully intricate floral motifs and Chinese symbols to create works of art. It was the job of a betrothed woman to produce the beaded items for the wedding chamber as part of her dowry. The detail and scale of this beadwork meant that many hundreds of hours of unpaid labour went into adorning the wedding chamber. Peranakan beading declined after World War II, so pieces from the early 1900s are very collectible and very expensive.

It was in Singapore that I first saw an original early 1900s piece of Peranakan beadwork up close. It was a breathtakingly beautiful wall hanging for above the wedding bead. The hundreds of unpaid hours that had gone into its making was very evident. It was the same day that I first saw a stash of the beautiful vintage Charlotte hanks that had been used to create the original beadwork. I had just finished taking a beading class with Robert Sng (see photo of Robert at work) a Singaporean beader working to keep the art of Peranakan beadwork alive by making and selling Peranakan beaded slippers and giving classes. At the end of my second class with him he opened a drawer in his shop to show me some beautiful antique Peranakan beadwork and his stash of tiny hanks of antique Charlotte beads that he had bought in France. The beadwork was stunning and the tiny hanks of beads a thing of beauty. They were so dainty and sparkly. Robert uses the antique Charlottes to bead his most beautiful and intricate slipper designs. Each pair of slippers take him over 80 hours to complete and he sells them for around 800.00 Singapore dollars. Whilst that’s more than the Peranakan women received for their beading labours $10.00 per hour is barely a living wage in Singapore. Robert says that he does it as a labour of love to keep the art alive it but it seems sad and unfair that such little value is placed on his skilled beadwork. He is such a delightful and passionate advocate for this traditional bead art. Mind you, recent conversations amongst the Etsy Beadweavers Team suggest that he is not alone in that. Many contemporary beadwork artists in the US and beyond struggle to earn more than $10.00 an hour for their stunning work. Things of beauty do have intrinsic value but those who make them do need to eat, pay mortgages and generally survive. The tiny hanks of Charlotte beads used by the French beaded purse makers and the Peranakan beaders were so common from the 1840s and through to the turn of the 19th century that they sold for just a few cents. Now you can buy them online for between US 20.00 and US 30.00 per hank. I wonder if in another 100 years the labour of beadweavers will increase similarly, or will we still be struggling to earn a living?

If you are ever in Singapore you can see Robert’s work in his shop - Little Shophouse, 43 Bussorah St, Singapore. Phone: 6295 2328). The art of Peranakan beadwork, like the hanks of antique French beads I saw in Robert’s shop is now becoming quite rare and today Robert is one of the few remaining practitioners of the art. It’s a great privilege to see the work and meet the delightfully friendly man behind it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Summer down under treasury

I haven't had work featured in an Etsy treasury for a while so it was a lovely surprise to find my Tangerine Dreams cuff bracelet in this treasury celebrating the talents of the Down Under Street Team (DUST) artists.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Is it transparent, translucent, luminescent or fluorescent? Some homework on the language of luster (lustre)

Lately I have been struggling to find the right words to describe the qualities of the beautiful cabochons that star in my recent beadwork creations. When you see the cabochons in real life they speak for themselves. However, in the online environment words and photos need to speak for them. As you can’t touch and feel a photo even the very best of photos struggle to convey the play of light and texture that comes when you hold an object in your hand.

A case in point was the stunning sea sediment jasper pendant (see photo) I have just listed on Etsy. The main close-up photo I took of Sea Jasper was one of my better quality photos. It’s far from perfect but it for an untrained photographer with a point and shoot camera it’s not bad. Yet, it just doesn’t convey the lovely soft sheen of the cabochon or capture the translucence you see in real life. Trying to describe the cabochon for listing on Etsy I realised just how limited my vocabulary is for describing gemstone surfaces.

This has begun to niggle at me and since listing the Sea Jasper necklace I’ve done some homework. I found some delightful words used by words used by those gemmologists to describe the surface of sea sediment jasper – it is transparent, translucid, luminescent and fluorescent. Fire agate, the centre of a piece I am working on at present is described on one gemmology site as iridescent. I now realise that it the gemmology language of ‘lustre’ I’m lacking. Lustre is the sheen, shine, patina or gleam of a surface, such as a gemstone. The language of lustre is full of wonderful adjectives – glow, glimmer, sparkle, glitter, twinkle, glisten and shimmer to name a few.

In gemmology lustre refers to the radiance and gloss of a gemstones surface that is created by light reflecting from it and there is a well-recognised language for describing the lustre of different gemstones. For instance:

  • Adamanite lustre: diamonds, zircon and rutile
  • Metallic lustre: hematite
  • Resinous lustre: amber
  • Greasy lustre: serpentine
  • Waxy lustre: turquoise
  • Pearly lustre: rhodinte
  • Silky lustre: tiger’s eye
  • Opalescent: opals

Whilst, greasy and resinous lustres might not instantly conjure up images of beauty and style, and very few people might know what an adamanite lustre is, I will add ‘silky’ and ‘pearly’ to my newly acquired lustre list.

My homework has given me 15 new words to help me try to speak for gemstones I use:

  1. Transparent
  2. Translucid
  3. Luminescent
  4. Fluorescent
  5. Pearly
  6. Silky
  7. Glowing
  8. Shining
  9. Glimmering
  10. Sparkling
  11. Glittering
  12. Twinkling
  13. Glistening
  14. Shimmering
  15. Opalescent

Friday, December 11, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award - thanks to Marsha of Hauteicebeadworks

I had a lovely surprise today. Marsha of Hauteice beadworks ( has given my blog a Superior Scribbler Award.

The rules aof recieving the award are these:
* Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 bloggy friends.
* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & name of the blog from whom he/she has received the award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog and link to this post which explains the award.
*Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List - that way, we'll be able to keep up to date on everyone who receives the award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Here are my five:
  • Hughes News - for blogging about local and global issues all in one
  • Bead Jewelry blog - for suggesting great gifts for beaders
  • Art Bead scene blog - for their beady postings on the 12 days of Christman
  • Etsy Beadweavers blog - for such a great blog celebrating the talents of beadweavers internationally
  • DUST blog - for a blog that showcases the talents of artists down under

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Frustrations, favourites and fabulosity of beading threads

A class with Maggie Meister converted me to using coloured bead thread in my beadweaving. Maggie provided gold thread to use with the gold Toho beads that were central to the project she was teaching. Being a creature of habit I had started the project using my favourite thread - black Silamide. It quickly became apparent that Maggie’s gold beadwork was more fabulously gold than mine because she was using gold, not black thread. Then and there I became a convert to matching thread colour to my beads and quickly accrued a rainbow of beading threads. Each time I stumbled across a new colour thread I bought it. Suddenly, translucent Delica gained a beautiful soft glow when I used them. My latest creation (just about to post on Etsy) is a case in point. I used purple Silamide thread with translucent purple Delica beads and it has produced a fabulous soft purple glow to finished weaving. However, my stash of coloured threads has grown in a very adhoc way. I see a colour I don’t have and I buy it. This has produced a stash that is a kaleidoscope of thread brands and it’s taken me a while to learn that not all bead threads are equal. My purple Silamide thread has been so frustrating to use. It seems to split and fray so easily. Similarly, with the wonderful array of colours I have in Nymo thread. One-G and SoNo have been fabulous to use. SoNo in particular just seems to glide unproblematically through the needle every time. Unfortunately, my adhoc purchasing means that I only have those in burgundy and black. I also have an unreliable memory when it comes to remembering the frustrations and fabulosity of beading threads. So, to help lesson the frustrations of beading with threads that fray, tangle and split I’ve begun to summarise my experiences (see below) so I can be clear about what my favourite beading thread is and why. Would love to hear about your beading thread frustrations and fabulosity. What’s your favourite beading thread? Why?

KO Thread (Japan)
  • Circular cross section thread
  • Pre-waxed
  • Will fit through a size 12 and 10 beading needle. Similar to Nymo B. It is identical to TOHO brand One G thread 50 metres per spool.
  • 12 colours: White, Black, Natural, Ivory, Rose, Rich Red, Gold, Dark Olive, Light Blue, Purple, Dark Brown & Light Grey.
  • Easy to thread. K.O. is supple, abrasion-resistant, colourfast, tangle-resistant & knots tightly.
Nymo, (USA)
  • Lightly waxed strands of nylon
  • Ranges from the thinnest "OO'' and "O" to "A", "B", through "G". A & B are good for size 11/Os. 00 works with size 15/0 beads.
  • 64 yards per small bobbin
  • 16 colours: Baby Pink, Rosy Mauve, Red, Burgundy, Sand, Brown, Olive, Evergreen, Grey, Turquoise, Royal Blue, Dark Blue, Light Purple, Dark Purple, Golden Yellow
  • Frays easily.
Kaygee WA (AUS)
  • Not waxed
  • Fine, Medium, Thick.
  • Use with size #10 or size #12 English beading needles.
  • 30 metres per spool 3 colours: Ivory, White and Black Tendency to fray quickly & limited colour range
  • Frays easily and tangles
C-Lon Thread (USA)
  • UV resistant nylon monofilament. (7lb test for breakage)
  • Size D is suitable for use with Delicas, 11/0s, 10/0s, or larger beads. Use with size #10 or size #12 English beading needles.
  • 80 yards per bobbin.
  • 36 colours: Ash, Beige, Burgundy, Capri, Chocolate, Cream, Gold, Golden Yellow, Black, Brown, Charcoal, Chartreuse, Dark Cream, Dark Green, Grey, Green, Lavender, Light Blue, Light Orchid, Olive, Pink, Purple, Royal Blue, Seafoam, Light Brown, Light Copper, Orange, Orchid, Red, Rose, Sienna, Sky Blue, Tan , Teal Turquoise Blue, White.
  • Stronger than Nymo, more colours & relatively fray proof.
One G, Toho (Japan)
  • Nylon thread.
  • Equivalent in size to D in Nymo and C-Lon.
  • 50 yards
  • 12 colours; White, Black, Grey, Ash, Rosey-Mauve, Burgundy, Dark Brown, Tan, Cream-Yellow, Medium Blue, Puple, Olive
  • Similar to beading with K.O thread, smooth, fray resistant, easy to thread.
Silamide Beading Thread (USA)
  • Pre-waxed
  • Two-ply twisted nylon thread, Sizes A and O. Threads through Size 13 needles. Size A. Thread will only go through once for tiny beads such as 24/0 using a twisted wire needle.
  • Cards100 yard, 500 yard, 900 yard spools
  • 26 colours: White, Off White, Light Grey, Ash Grey, Medium Grey, Gold, Beige, Dusty Rose, Orange, Pink, Red, Burgundy, Lilac, Purple, Wine, Kelly, Olive Green, Dark Green, Aqua, Slate, Royal Blue, Dark Blue, Yellow, Light Brown, Dark Brown.
  • Stiffer weave than Nymo or C-lon. Strands separate easily, a tendency to fray quickly, not colourfast.

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op