Hey…I actually finished something.

Like, I have a finished piece. Ye gads. What next? 🙂

Detail of a bracelet band woven in Chevron Stitch out of beads in goldtone and multiple shades of blue.
Completed 6/29/21

It took me around four hours of work yesterday, maybe a little less, to complete a Chevron Stitch bracelet of my own design (which I’ve noted down in chart form in my work notebook). This was my first attempt, and I was relaxed and careful, which is likely why it took me so long. I really need to break out of the blue and gold rut, but it was a relatively “safe” choice this time. I believe that is why I keep making blue and gold bracelets…like I used to work with hematite and silver all the time, as a youth.

I didn’t really see the color trend until putting it away, last night, and being confronted with a bunch of other blue and gold stuff (which I can see, now that I’m not stashing finished objects in boxes immediately). I don’t really know what that’s about; I had originally set out to make a blue and white bracelet, but my color sense led me in a different direction, away from the more nautical vision of my original intent.

I do have it in the works to make a “strawberry” colorway of this pattern, but unfortunately — it is not easy to source bulk quantities of 1.5mm Toho cube beads. I’m not sure how many of these I’ll be able to turn out with the cube beads I have — it took a significant amount of them to complete this bracelet. (The bracelet itself is about 0.5 oz, or around 14 grams.)

Granted, this was from a 22-gram vial from either the late 1990’s or early 2000’s, from a store no longer in business. (Wikipedia says a bead has to be 25 years old to be proclaimed, “vintage.” They aren’t quite that old!) I have three other substantial vials of little Toho cubes…which are sparkly (the luster, faceting, and directionality of the beads were why I chose them for this pattern), but it looks as if the new trend for Toho cubes is matte and opaque (and expensive, and sold in small lots). I can deal with that where it comes to the body of a piece, but for accents, that may not be what I want, you know?

There is also the possibility of using Hex beads/2-cuts in their place: these are hexagonal, like hardware nuts, but would give a faceted rather than flat surface. I could also attempt the use of cylinder beads in the place of the cubes, which could lend both directionality and shine. The thing is, cylinders tend to run smaller than rocailles (rocailles are your basic, rounded seed bead — basically everything in the pictures I’m showing here that isn’t teal or a button — whereas cylinders have corners). But I’ll try it. I have enough cylinders, and I’m not using them for anything. In addition, I can at least source Delicas (a type of cylinder bead made by Miyuki) in size 10/0 as well as 11/0 (10/0 is slightly larger), so I might be able to circumvent the problem of their being tiny.

There are also Miyuki 1.8mm cubes (slightly larger), but suffice it to say that I haven’t spent a lot of time looking for them, yet. I know where I can get them in bulk in a few colors I might use, and I have enough to experiment with, but that’s about the extent of my current knowledge.

Close-up of a bracelet clasp on a wrist, showing a turquoise blue glass Potomac Cup Button.
View of the clasp

Anyhow…I used a pattern I developed a few days ago. The clasp is a Potomac Cup Button plus buttonhole, and works very smoothly, with no grating or squeaking of the type that occurs with Mother-of-Pearl against glass. I’ve also been wanting to get away from metal shank buttons (and the huge Czech glass buttons, which require similarly garganutan buttonholes), but that has left me largely with plastic garment buttons…which are not the most attractive things, many times.

I am really happy with how the clasp turned out…I knew how to make basic ones, but a lot of the attachment had to be improvised (with extra lengths of thread on either side of the woven portion). I’ve got to learn to trust my own improvisation. (I didn’t record the process of attaching the buttonhole or button…that may come back to bite me, later…but not if I trust my improvisation!)

The major thing I’m concerned about at this point (though maybe I shouldn’t be concerned at all) is the colorfastness of the large picot beads…these are Miyuki 8/0s in Silverlined (S/L) Capri Blue Aurora Borealis (AB). I have used some beads before which looked similar in terms of their surfaces (not hues, but surface qualities), which were also supposedly Miyuki. They were not colorfast.

Over a number of days of constant wear next to the skin (which I should note, is not typical or intended wear), the color began to rub off. These were sold through a different vendor; they were a different color (some kind of magenta — said vendor doesn’t label their vials with trade names); and they were noticeably different in size and shape (smaller, squarer) from the rest of my 6/0 Miyukis. The rest of the Miyukis did not fade, by the way, despite being dyed. The problem was just the magenta lot.

My concern is that the Capri Blue beads in the bracelet I just made may be surface-dyed, without notice given to the user. Historically, I’ve tried to use high-quality beads when possible; the issue is essentially that not all beads are solid-color throughout the glass. A great number of colors just are not available in a form we know to be stable, which is a drawback likely related to the fashion jewelry industry (i.e., materials not being made to last for generations, as it’s assumed they will be thrown away as trends change). Miyuki is a high-end seed bead manufacturer, known for its wide color range and precision sizing and cuts; so if even they have some beads that fade…well.

The usual reason for dyeing glass is economic: people like color, and dyes (and color-lining, or coloring inside the bead piercing) can produce some of the most intense colors in glass beads I’ve seen. That is to say, they may not be economically feasible — or perhaps even possible — to produce in a durable way.

I know Capri Blue to be intense regularly (when the color is solid within the glass), but I do not know why these would be dyed if there were an available superior color formulation already in use. I found a neat table showing durability of a large number of colors by Miyuki. I don’t see reference to the AB version of S/L Capri Blue, but it does look like this color could be a bit fugitive…as versus the rest of the Capri Blues???

(“Fugitive” is an artist term meaning that the color may fade or change over time due to inherent and/or environmental factors.)

Sometimes having a temporary color is the price paid for having a bright color (for instance, blue-leaning violets seem to be routinely difficult to produce in glass; brown-leaning purples, however…not so much). I just wish they would tell us this before we buy them (and not, that is, label all seed beads as fugitive just because they’re seed beads; this doesn’t help anyone). This vial in particular, I bought in-person at a local bead shop. I remember this because on getting them home and matching them with my other beads, the color reminded me of Smurfs.

Okay, let’s not get into that. They do work, in this context!

Image of the back of a wrist, wrapped in a blue and gold woven seed bead bracelet cuff.
Back-of-wrist view

One of the interesting things about Chevron Stitch is its elasticity — this bracelet is about 6.75″ long (about right for my wrist: 6″ of weaving, 0.75″ of buttonhole), and 1″ wide, but it has some springiness due to the method of its construction. It also has mini fringe on one side of it, due to the quirks of using Chevron Stitch. It’s best worn with the fringe in the direction of the fingers, for a smooth fit (I had to figure this out before I wove the clasp!). I would remove it before hand-washing, because it does (on me) drape around a true wrist…not up on the arm.

And, no, I still haven’t figured out all the quirks of Chevron Stitch. I know what works, but I don’t necessarily understand why, at this point.

I also found so many people selling beadweaving patterns on Etsy, last night. It makes me wonder how many people actually want to weave their own jewelry…or if they’d rather just buy it. I might be able to figure that out through experience…

Then there is the pricing issue. M told me I could sell this for $20. I was like, “$20?!” Do you know how much time and effort went into designing and making this thing? How many investments (like head-mounted magnification) and resources (all the beads and thread) were used in its creation? Not to mention time and skill? Preliminary trials?

Jeez.

No, I didn’t say that. I probably looked incredulous enough. It doesn’t matter if I like making it, if making it will bankrupt me. Asking $20 for it is like paying someone to take it.

I have a target price, but I haven’t run the numbers yet to see just how I can divide it up and still be reasonable, on both ends. It would have been easier to do, if I had marked my bead vials prior to beginning to work; then I could see what fraction of a vial I was using, roughly. (I can still count them out and then re-measure them.) However: I did not use metals in this bracelet, which cuts the price way down from what I’d expect. If I had entirely used beads which I was confident would be colorfast, I’d be willing to charge more.

Actually: I just ran the numbers. The end price I want to charge (I had to apply 20% off) is apparently a bargain, given how long this took to make (though I should make more and see how much my time spent working, drops). And…I can hear you businesspeople out there…it’s not anywhere near $20, don’t worry.

And…yeah, if I want to do this for a living, I probably can’t live exactly, here…but that’s another post.

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). Currently, they are trying to figure out whether to place their energies more into language and language arts, or producing handcrafted jewelry and face coverings, for the interim...

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