Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bead Wearability

I make beads of glass. What do people do with them? Well, mostly, they wear them. Whether they put them in a piece of their own making, a necklace or bracelet I've made, or a pendant, they want to put 'em around their necks and prance around!

Over the years, I've had a few folks who were baffled by the whole idea of wearing, say, a fish or even a mask. One shop owner asked about the fish- what do people do with these? When I told her they mostly wore them, she simply didn't believe me! Another customer brought a bead back because it was too round and it rolled when she wore it. I exchanged it for earrings, and wondered how the round part had gotten past her to begin with. And I actually let it affect my bead-making style when she said I should only make flat beads- look around my shop, and you'll see very few of the round variety. That's not the ONLY reason for that, but it did have an impact.

Anyway, I'm here to talk about some of the things that I think about when I make my beads to insure that they 'wear' properly.

A big consideration is BALANCE. Your beads need to hang right side up when they are strung- or at least mine do. That means the bead needs to be bottom heavy. I get around that much of the time by making the holes in my beads go from top to bottom rather than from side to side, like in my fish and heart beads. If the hole goes from side to side, it will look more like my large-holed hearts.

Another consideration is FLATNESS. My fish have fins sticking off of the sides, but they don't stick straight out- they are pulled so that they are parallel to the body, but not quite touching it. I don't want bits sticking out all over the place that can break off easily, or that stab my poor customers while they're wearing them.
And then there's BAIL-ABILITY. (Ok, that can't be a real word.) There needs to be an area at each hole end of the bead where silver or a 'seater' bead can get close enough to hold the bead where you want it to stay. This means that there can't be bits of glass sticking up past the end of the hole that make it impossible to put something next to the glass. Hearts are always a challenge when it somes to this, as their lobes do stick up past the bead hole.

And speaking of bailing and stringing, I've found small silver saucer(as in flying saucer) shaped beads to be the perfect seater beads- they sit themselves right down in the bead hole, and take the stress of the bailing so that it can be nice and tight.
That's all I can think of right now! Stay tuned for more nit-picking rantings of an obsessed lampworker.


Lauren said...

As usual, you've posted a lot of great information! I, too, get people who think wearing critters is odd. But my critter-loving customers who wear them don't think twice about it! I love that people wear the animals - shows a lot of personality. :)
And all your tips about wearability are right on! Thank you for sharing. I learn so much from my fellow Fire Divas! And Bail-Ability should be a word.

glassbead, isinglass design said...

Ha! Thanks, Lauren!

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Great post Laurie! Very informative!

I like crystal bicones for "seating" a bead! I'm gonna have to look for some silver saucers!