Making Beads (And Quality).

Q: They are very round, but are not perfect and I think the finish I want to put on might disguise the imperfection! Is this acceptable, or is this considered kids stuff? I am an artist by profession, and am used to being very precise. Am I being too, excuse the expression, "tight-a$$ed" about this, or are there certain things that are looked down on quality-wise?

A: I tend to mix things up, but I have a "bottom level" of quality. Any given piece might be all high-end stuff, or all middle, or a mix. If you are a beginner, you might stick to inexpensive beads for now until you are sure of your construction techniques - if a necklace breaks, you will not mind so much if they are gold-plated beads that go skidding away over the floor! Also, your friends might really like the look of the jewelry now - but will they in 6 weeks when the plating wears off? On a related note, since most of the jewelry I make is for sale (except for the occasional piece I can't bear to part with!) I try to keep the costs down. So when I look at the necklace laid out on the board and see malachite, lapis, vintage crystal, lots of large GF beads - I stop and re-work it - swap the crystal for fire polish, use smaller GF beads, stretch it with FW pearls, etc., so that the final piece will be saleable. Getting perfectly round beads isn't as easy as it may sound. I have a couple of ways that I do this. One is to poke a small hole in either end of the bead before baking, then finish drilling it once it's baked. That way, you aren't pushing on the bead so hard and distorting it. Another way is to freeze the bead partially, poke the hole through until the needle just shows on the other side, then remove the needle and poke it through from the other side. I think you'll find that if you buy from mail-order suppliers, or in bulk from a local bead supply store, glass, sterling and even gold-filled are not much more expensive and are sometimes even cheaper per piece than the "el-cheapo" plastic, nickelplated, and Hamilton gold beads you buy in small numbers at the craft store.