Thursday, June 30, 2016

All About the Thread

Thread is a recurring topic of conversation with bead weavers.  I normally test new threads and often return to my old standby choices.

I started beading using Nymo.  I learned about threading the needle from the cut end of the thread.  I learned to scratch my needle and thread along the glass of the beads not just poking thru the holes of the beads all willy nilly.  I learned to stretch the Nymo before using.  I learned to take out knots with two needles.  I learned to condition the thread.  I can still hear some of my teachers in the 1990's talking about using thread in ways not to split, fray, or get all tangled.

Then I learned about Fire Line.  At first, I hated it.  Change is not always easy.  I had learned on soft threads.  I had learned to use them and liked them.  But I switched to Fire Line as it seemed students liked it better and the store owner where I was teaching most of the time always recommended it.  It did react better for most students than Nymo.  Not as much knotting, little fraying or splitting, and generally easier to use.

When C-Lon and S-Lon came out, I tried both.  I liked both better than Nymo but by this time I was used to Fire Line so seldom used thread.  I tried others not specifically mentioned here but for years I have stuck with Fire Line.  I even purchased some of the dyed Fire Line from the Sparkle Spot to satisfy my need for color.

All during this thread journey, I've also used Power Pro for pieces with crystals in lots of angles.  I still do for some pieces.  It is one of the strongest and most resistant to cutting.  So it is often my go to thread when using a lot of crystals.  But it is more expensive than Fire Line so not my first choice of threads.  And I find it somewhat hard to thread the needle.

Then new Japanese threads came out on the market.  I tried Sono and found it much like the other improved threads, C-Lon etc.  The colors are soft and subdued.  I tried One G.  I liked it better and when I want a colored thread I have used this one up to this point.  There are better color choices of One G as well.

A cousin to Fire Line on the market used by many is Nanofil.  It is also a fishing line.  Much like Fire Line it is stronger than most threads and does not tend to fray, knot, or tangle as easily.  Nanofil also comes in a nice green which blends better than the Fire Line color choices.  It seems a bit slicker and softer in the drape of pieces which I liked because it is more like the old Nymo thread that I learned on.  So I do like this product a lot and use it as my first choice.

But, I still often want color.  So ok, I use One G for color.  The down side to One G for me is that it is very slick.  When the thread is shorter, I often pull the needle right off!  Not fun.  And I can't add thread the same way I do with either Fire Line or Nanofil.  I prefer to add using the knot, melt, and tug technique.  I almost always add that way now.

New on the market now is a Japanese thread called Hana.  So I figure, why not, I'll test it.  I received my order for Hana Monday, June 27, 2016.  I’ve tested it in three different projects and had students try it in classes twice.  So far my results are totally positive.    I like this Hana much better than other threads.  The colors are fantastic.  SO I figure I'll try the knot, melt, and tug technique to add thread the same as Fireline.  Hana worked!  That probably doesn’t mean much to some of you, but to any bead weaver who likes to add using the knot, melt, and tug technique it will.  I’ve added at least 8 times in the last couple of days and each worked.  Students told me that it was not getting tangled as much as Fireline.  I even like the spool better.  The little slot to hold the cut thread is a great bonus.

So for my 2 cents, this thread solves some of my issues I have had with other threads and brings great colors to my beady life.  My first 4 spools will not be my last.  Hana thread is available from The Beadsmith.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Design Crunch Time

This time of year, after Bead and Button, is when I usually go into hyper drive to finish up some new designs for the following year.  The pieces are usually due in early August.  So I come home, relax a bit, then dive into my beads and finish up with some new pieces for the show.  Normally, at this point, I have a few pieces already done and ready to go.  I design all year long and save my favorites for Bead and Button.  So sitting here today, I should have several pieces saved and ready to go.

This year I have a change in my routine.  I have some great designs ready to go but they are all tied up with a book proposal.  When I submitted the book proposal this past spring, I sent along a number of fun new and different pieces.  Maybe subconsciously I figured I would be rejected and I'd be able to use the designs for 2017.  I don't know, but I can't use those pieces while the book is still in consideration.  It is great that the book may still happen.  Except, now I need more fun new pieces for next year's show.

I seldom have a design block.  Usually, I have more ideas for cool things than time to create them.  Lots of ideas seem to flit in and out of my brain, some work, some don't.  Today, I'm at an energy low point and the new pieces I'm creating are not jumping up at me with the WOW I like to get from my beads.  While I'm sure this will pass quickly, I have to wonder, did this have to happen NOW?  This is crunch time, not the time to be lazy and ponder why my cat is so happily purring away.

New bead shapes usually get my juices flowing thinking up new ways to construct a pattern.  So lets try that with some new ones picked up at Bead and Button.  Then I think, there are enough shapes out there ones at this point are making me think, oh no, not another shape.  And I LOVE shaped beads.  So my mojo for designing with yet another new shape is not working.  So ok, what about putting some really colorful combinations together to brighten my day and wake up my artistic muse?  I've tried that with several pieces, and somehow, ended up monochromatic.  How the heck did that happen?  I started wanting color and failed.

While I'm pretty sure this will all pass quickly and something I've dreamt about will work, at this point, I'm reduced to working on dreaded paperwork or petting my cat who continues to purr.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bead and Button 2016

Another great year at Bead and Button.  Yes, the show is smaller, and yes, sales are down.  But the energy is still there and for me nothing will replace the experience. 

I taught 4 classes, and for the first time, I had an Artisan table in the showroom.  The table was exhausting but I'm pretty sure I will do it again next year.  My students were fantastic.  They were all prepared, mostly on time, and respectful of other students.
Meet the Teachers Bead and Button 2016
I have often pondered the reasons for the slow down at Bead and Button.  The obvious reason of the economy overall and cost of attending the show is obvious.  However, I believe that over the years, the Bead and Button Show has encouraged such an interest in beading in general, that competition has grown.  This cycle of consumer interest, from going to the Biggest and Best, to local or destination based beading opportunities, has also contributed to the slow down at Bead and Button. 

Beading societies are increasingly sponsoring their own retreats.  These retreats are usually open to other beaders.  The growth of social media has meant that more and more people find out about these retreats and often will attend something local to feed their desire to bead with others and learn.  Other commercial retreats are also available beyond Bead and Button.  They allow the consumer to make a decision based on location or a cruise.  These opportunities result in a destination based choice for a vacation to include beading.  In my opinion, all these options, are a part of the slow down at my personal favorite, Bead and Button.  Choice is a good thing but has come at a cost. 

I hope that Bead and Button will be able to make positive changes for 2017 and beyond to continue the energy that is found at this particular event.  I will be there.