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Quality Beads?

Q: What makes a good quality bead? Can things like plastic beads, 'Bugle' beads, 'Rocialle' beads, and seed beads be used in quality pieces? How about glass beads? 'Polymer' clay beads? Freshwater pearls? Can these be considered quality beads?

A: The answer to this one is "everything is relative". The "better quality" at 'Wal-Mart' is not the same as the "better quality" at 'Bloomingdales'! Plastic can be new and cheap, or vintage (or 'Bakelite'!) and actually worth a good bit. Seed beads and 'Bugles' come in all sorts of quality levels - if you are doing something very structured and formal, you probably want the best quality, to get consistency, for "freeform" things, you may be able to use a lower quality. Some people only want "cultured" i.e. ocean pearls (South Sea ones, usually). Others are happy with real freshwater pearls, as opposed to glass imitations, and (MHO) the best polymer clay work rivals good lampwork in quality. This does NOT include dolphins or ying-yangs on pyschedelic backgrounds! ;-) If you are planning to sell your work, most of these decisions will be controlled by the market you plan to target - if your selected audience can only afford to spend $20 for a necklace, don't offer them 14KT gold. You have to do beadwork for the pure love of it. Most of the time you will never get back monetarily what you put in to a piece in time. That being said, you can't expect to get a fair market price for good work with cheap plastic or glass beads in it. There is a big difference, and most people will know it by looking at it. There are all kind of cheap beads out there from seed beads to 10 mm., but you really get what you pay for in the long run. There isn't anyone who loves a bargain as much as me, but when I am stopped on the street by a complete stranger asking where I got my necklace, you know you are doing something right. Better yet, when I am stopped at a major bead show by my peers and asked about a piece I did, it is a real honor. You don't get this response doing it with plastic beads. I would like to have a Rosary made of high quality red coral beads. I would need a source for the coral beads, plus a quality "stringer" (if that's what they're called). Is this newsgroup a good place to look? Aren't there a few sites for those who just make rosaries? If you know them, could you post them for this person? I know I have seen the rosary people out there, but don't know them. Unless Carol, you are interested in doing this, since I know you do it too.