by Rebecca Stone.
(Los Angeles, California USA)
Holy cow! I guess I’ve never really thought about stones or rocks in quite this way. I’m not particularly the blinded-by-science type, but I do recall that back in junior college, my favorite science-type class was geology.
In fact, one of my cherished memories from that period was of a group of us students going on a rain-soaked, beer-fueled field trip up the Columbia River Gorge, in search of basalt formations and the like.
But, I must say, as fascinating as basalt is, it never made me break out in a sweat the way I do when I’m surrounded by semiprecious and precious stones (is there really a difference?).
I mean, put a few nuggets of some really supreme-looking amethyst in front of me and I can kiss any resolve not to spend another dime at the bead store goodbye.
It all began with my layoff as an editor and writer on a boating magazine. I mean, one day I was focused on the water and then, suddenly all my attention turned to land-born formations.
Seems like the day after my job evaporated I was reborn in the jewelry section at Michael’s Craft Store, staring at pretty rocks on a string and something called “Findings.” I remember thinking to myself, “Why not? I’m certainly looking to find myself.”
I bought a book and some basic supplies, excited for the chance to learn something new.
Since then my craving for stones that I can transform into jewelry has grown into an addiction that could rival drinking and gambling. Heck, it’s downright insatiable. I can’t recall ever feeling this way about buying shoes or underwear.
I don’t think this is unusual among jewelry designers and rock hounds in general.
While drooling over a strand of Moss Agate at Michael’s one day, I overheard a girl say, “Look, Mom, we’re in your section!” Her mother muttered as she swept by the colored stones and crystals, averting her eyes, “Nope, I’m going cold turkey.” It looked like it was all she could do to keep from breaking into a run to outpace her passion run amok.
I empathized. Lately, I’ve been trying to pick routes that steer clear of my growing list of bead shop stops, just so I can space my expenditures into manageable chunks.
When I do succumb to a visit, I try to limit my purchases to one project at a time. This is tough to do.
New stones (and lately, crystals as well) beckon me like sea sirens lured sailors to their rocky shores – and their ultimate demise.
While my ship has never been in danger (until recently I had an old wooden trawler that often served as my floating art studio, and I happen to know that she is still moored safely in her slip), my pocketbook is often perilously close to running aground.
Los Angeles is full of enticements, bead and stone shopping-wise. And I appear to be on course to discover every single shop and show that appears on my radar screen.
But, while possible financial catastrophe lurks behind every sparkling, colored strand that dangles like a 24-carat carrot from a shop wall or lies twisted on a show table, so does a wealth of lessons.
The more I run my fingers over stones and absorb their beauty, some blatant and some subtle, the more I learn. And I am hungry to learn. Starving, in fact.
So many shops… and for once I have time. And, thanks to sites like Rena’s I don’t feel quite so alone as I try to gain a foothold in this new territory.
I hope you’ll visit my blog to check in on my progress from time to time as I stumble along on my adventures in jewelry design – and chime in about your own.
You’re in good company! :o)
Rebecca, I totally share your bead addiction!
In fact, I’ve always thought one of the great things about an addiction to jewelry supplies is that nearly everything we add to our stash is so small that our families never suspect the true enormity of our purchases! :o)
I love your “findings = looking to find myself” connection – brilliant and so true.
Your trawler / floating art studio sounds like it was a fabulous environment for creating.
Thanks so much for posting!
….and don’t I know about that addiction, wait ’til you are as old as I am and find your self being almost buried in stones, rocks, gems, beads . . .
Is there a cure?
You described my condition so well. I am an addict, there I admit it. I have a room of beads, and findings and more beads. I do not drive from bead shop to bead shop, but I can do a lot of miles online. I count the number of days that I have been free of buying beads online. Emails of bead sales, what great deals, got to get them now while they are hot. I am trying to get it under control… but I love beading and beads.
More fuel on the fire
Oh, geez… that’s another thing… the Internet. I’m only just getting started with ordering gemstones, etc. through there. Where will it all end? Hopefully with tons of sellable pieces. Maybe we should start an organization called JDAA (Jewelry Design Addicts Anonymous).
Well, I join the club of the truly addicted jewelry artist! You can’t help but become addicted, what with all the “purty eye candy” out there. I was in a beadshop a couple of years ago talking to the owner about doing a glass fusing class and I was just looking around when I said out loud “good grief, I have more beads than you do.” A couple of ladies turned around and asked if I had a bead shop and I said “no, I work out of my home” but that I have been making jewelry for about 15 years and I go to all of the gem shows in my area and am always buying beads.
I am also addicted to glass and PMC — so there, I said it out loud, I AM ADDICTED!!!
Another charter member
by: Ricki Ayer (Ayer Baubles)
You can count me in as another member of the addicted. Since I started beading several years ago, my stash has grown and continues to grow. My friend and I know every bead store in a 50 mile radius – and visit them often. My husband just shakes his head when I say I am going bead shopping or when another package arrives in the mail from one of the online bead stores I order from on a regular basis. He can’t understand why I don’t just use what I have rather than buying more…it truly is an addiction hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been bitten by the bead bug. When we go on vacation, one of the first things I do is check the yellow pages for “bead stores”. He is a good sport though and goes with me as I scope out bead shops in each new city. We had a good laugh last year after we got back from Arizona from my nephew’s college graduation. When friends asked what we did on vacation, he replied “we went bead shopping, of course” – with the proper roll of his eyes.
I am glad to be in such good company with all of you other bead addicts.
Hard Core Addict
Rebecca, I added your blog to my favorites. I would love to follow your journey. As far as addiction to beads, findings, etc goes, consider me a hard core addict. I am constantly buying beads at Michaels, Local Bead Stores, Etsy, FMG, the list goes on and on. I’m glad to hear your 1st show went well. Your work is lovely.
Using paychecks on beads
by: Melissa @Galena Designs
Oh yes, the bead addiction…I started beading 5 yrs ago and while each and every year the amount of money I spend on beads gets higher and higher, it is fun and great to see what Mother Earth has created with some help from us humans that pretty them up! Bead addiction is good for a self-calming type of activity (once you get the beads and create!)So I agree with the other artists that find these particular online bead stores that we often frequent and our visits to our favorite bead shops is fun, so often spend our paychecks of our day career on our second career such as jewelry creations! I know its a whoops! kind of thing if you spend most of your paycheck on beads, but as long as you sell your creations or give as the best gifts ever, you get paid back for this great addiction of bead shopping!!! Worthwhile and fulfilling!!!
Keep It Up!
by: Sam Ryder
I too consider myself an addict, but recently I have had to rein in my purchases because I quit work and started Uni … so, for those of us who have the desire but don’t currently have the means, I think you need to keep the flag flying! (OK, like everyone else, it’s not like I don’t have enough already to last me multiple lifetimes, but there is always something drool-worthy that we just HAVE to have.) This addiction is about beauty and learning and sharing, so how can it possibly be bad?
The Compay We Keep
Wow, you guys. I am so glad to be in the company of all you other addicts! It makes me feel a little less crazy — sort of. I’m wondering… Do you prefer to by online or to go to a brick and mortar shop where you can actually run your fingers through the beads and check out their variations? Just curious.
Online for Me
by: Sam Ryder
I like both ways, but 98% of my purchases are online. There are a few reasons for this…
I like to buy handmade artisan lampwork direct from those who make it, and the market here in Australia is tiny compared to the USA. Not that we don’t have some fantastic beadmakers here, but they are spread out over the country, so even to buy Australian I have to buy online.
For gemstones, I actually prefer to see what I am getting in the flesh, but I tend to gravitate to the more expensive or unusual beads, so that means I often have to purchase online. I am definitely more hesitant about doing this, however, because I find it difficult to visualise sizes, which are inevitably much smaller than those juicy pictures show. Sometimes I cut out pieces of paper so I can get a real feel for how large they are. I also worry about stock photos of gems – I prefer to see a photo of the actual strand I am buying. My final concern is quality – I tend to stick with a few sellers because I trust them. I kind of go with my gut on that one.
There is one danger with buying online – it is open 24/7! And there is SO MUCH out there to tempt you, once you start looking. Makes feeding your addiction a little too easy…
I hear you
Hi Sam: I can sure identify with what you’re saying. Glass and crystal beads are pretty standard and not a problem to buy via the Internet. Except that the crystals from China, which are so prevalent today, can vary widely, particularly when it comes to shades of red. But with stones there is so much variation. Even when buying them from my favorite supplier, I sometimes (OK, always) agonize over which strand to get. I find differences in shading and inclusions can make a big difference in my designs. Plus, I just find that touching and seeing stones in person is educational — and when it comes to jewelry design, there is no end to the learning.