An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Foreign travel, beaded beads and broadening the memory: some brief reflections

I have just recently travelled to Europe and South East Asia and on those travels I was reminded of the widely used saying that travels broadens the mind. It has a long history and can be found in literature across diverse times and places including that for children. I found it today in a children’s book call The Painted Garden written in 1949 by UK author Noel Steatfield about a family who travels to Hollywood. In it you find the words, ‘ Foreign travel broadens the mind ‥. and a broadened mind helps all art’ (p. 3). The Painted Garden was first published in serial form in 1948, and as a book (subtitled The Story of a Holiday in Hollywood) in 1949.

In trying to pack away my bead purchases from the bead shops that I visited whilst I was away I found myself reflecting that (borrowing from Steatfield) foreign bead shop travels broaden a beader’s ‘stash’ and if a broadened stash indeed helps the art of all beadwork. For me, my new purchases have certainly inspired a rush of creativity and very little ‘putting away’ activity.

Yesterday surrounded by my new bead purchases I felt compelled to create some new beaded beads. Before long my foreign bead stash was being put to use creating these beaded beads out the of beads I bought at a small but well-organised bead shop in Dublin (Beads and Bling, 34 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2, that stocked some Miyuki Delica, size 11/0 and 15/0 beads in colours I had not seen before. Did those new colours help my art – well maybe, or then maybe not – but they certainly inspired a bout of creativity that has broadened the range of beaded beads I can make. Here’s just a taster (below) of what I made yesterday. I had fun making them. Now to remember how I made them so that I can make some patterns to share. I do hope foreign travel broadens the memory as well!

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Other bead shops in Dublin
  • Crown Jewels, 12 Castle Market Street
  • Yellow Brick Road, 8 Batchelors Walk

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Singapore sparkles for beaders

As a major airport hub between Europe and South East Asia nearly 1 million people a day stop over in Singapore on their way somewhere else. It is often described as a shopper’s paradise and many tourists and locals spend their time shopping in Orchard Road where department store after department store laden with every major fashion label in the world attempt to tempt buyers to purchase the particular high fashion labels they stock. Orchard Road is forever busy and with most shops open till 10.00 pm it certainly means you can shop till you drop for any branded fashions from around the globe that beckon you.

But, there are many other ‘Singapores’ to explore and as a beader a must do shopping adventure for me is a few hours spent at a shopping Plaza in Chinatown called the People’s Park Plaza. It is not a glitzy high-end fashion tourist shopping plaza but a delightful local plaza where few tourists go. It is stacked full of four floors of small shops that sell a wide array of everyday items such as furniture, make-up and shoes and services that range from optometrists, travel agents through to traditional Chinese pharmacies. It also has a lively food court in the basement so tempting aromas waft around you as you meander through each level. Its attraction for me as a beader is that on each level is at least one bead shop.

Each bead shop has it’s own personality and all of them are stacked to the brim with their particular specialities. Some have every finding you might imagine and more, others walls of crystals and yet others gemstones. There is a specialist plastic bead shop and one that has all of the above and more. Not only are the beads tempting but, so are the prices. It’s always hard to choose what to buy but on my visit this time the sparkle of crystals and faceted glass beads seemed to beckon. In at least three shops every size, shape, colour and finish that you could imagine was on display. With a little bit of jet lag and no particular project in mind, choosing was not a very rational process but here’s the sparkle that caught my eye.

I made my first project with just a few of the crystals I bought on the flight from Singapore to London and some Delicas from home that I had in my inflight beading stash. It kept me busy from Singapore until sleep time somewhere across the Middle East. Now I can’t wait to bead with more of my Singapore sparkles but that is for another day.

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