Monday, October 1, 2012

Can't Get Enough Teal

This past week I went to New Orleans to visit some of my favorite people, eat at my favorite restaurants, and hit up my favorite bead shop... The Bead Shop. I got one foot in the door and spotted a string of gorgeous teal beads. John always says that if I see something teal I have to go and touch it... and he was right. I went straight to them and before I even saw anything else I decided they were coming home with me. Two strands of these guys made a tight choker necklace, so I looked around for some filler beads to add some length and interest.

After going through the entire place I hadn't found any other beads that I loved, but I did find some bead caps. I'm sure that's not the official term, but I'm not sure what else to call them. They're little half-spheres that cup other beads and add a little detail. They're gold filigree and remind me a lot of the beads I used for my wedding necklace.

Since I didn't find any other beads to add length I decided to get 5 inches of gold chain so I could add length to the back. Once I got back to Austin I looked through my bead collection to see if I had anything I could use in place of the chain. These guys looked promising so I decided to give them a shot.

What I needed: teal beads, clear beads (TBD), bead cups, beading wire, chain (TBD), crimp beads, lobster hook and jump ring, pliers, and cutters (surely there's another name for these). This picture got a whole lot busier once I added all of the redundant and self explanatory labels... my bad.

Now, to use the clear beads or to not use the clear beads. I decided to just test out my options. Sans clear beads:

And avec clear beads:

Now for the mini side-by-side comparison:

While I loved the plain teal and gold one (big surprise... those aren't my wedding colors or anything), I thought the clear beads added some airiness that kept it from feeling too clunky. Off I went! Clear bead, bead cap, teal bead, bead cap, repeat, repeat, repeat.

About 10 minutes later I was donezo.

I added a single gold bead to the end so it would taper smoothly rather than ending abruptly, put on my crimp beads, looped the wire through the lobster hook and jump ring, crimped, and called it a day!

This was a quick and easy project which was a nice change of pace from all of my watercolor maps. It was also good to do something that didn't require me purchasing all of the bones. I already had wire, pliers, wire cutters, some of beads, lobster hook, and jump ring, and now I have some chain left over for a project down the road.

One thing I've learned from a ton of failed past projects is to really think things through before you decide to DIY. For years and years I'd go into a store, see something I thought I could do myself, and end up regretting it. Sometimes I'd end up paying twice as much to get the materials myself, sometimes I'd be 6 hours in and nowhere near finished, and sometimes it would just come out looking like crap. Such is the life of DIY.

I think all of these miserable learning experiences have helped me to really evaluate my ability to do something myself before I decide to take it on. I'm pretty quick to look at something that's begging to be a DIY, but I force myself to wonder:

  1. Is it going to cost more than it would to just buy it?
  2. Am I going to be able to match or exceed the quality?
  3. Will I ever finish it? 
  4. Will it be a fun experience or a miserable, frustrating one?
  5. If it requires buying a lot of new, reusable materials (like pliers), will I ever use them again to make the purchase worthwhile?
Asking myself these questions has kept me from making a lot of costly mistakes of the money, time, and psychological variety. For example, when I was trying on my wedding dress I saw a gorgeous crocheted wire pearl bracelet, sort of like this one:

I momentarily thought "I'll make myself one for the wedding!" until I remembered a time I tried to crochet wire a few years ago... and failed miserably. See, I know how to crochet, and I know how to use wire. Sounds easy to put these two skills together, right? Wrong. Anyway, lucky me it was 50% off from a fair-but-out-of-reach-price to a totally worth it one. Extra-lucky me, my soon to be mother in law offered to get it for me for Christmas! I said yes :)

Of course writing about this past failure just makes me want to try again... which now I think I will, haha.

Does anyone know what those cup beads are actually called? Or more importantly, does anyone even read this? I feel like Julie of Julie and Julia...


  1. Hey Claire! Just wanted to let you know that I'm reading your posts and really enjoying them! I'm in love with your watercolors and I think you could sell them if the time and effort would be worth it. I hope you're enjoying the process of wedding planning and it's not too stressful. A little advice- do things the way you and John want it. You will be the only ones to remember all the details (and the big things too haha- most people can't even remember what they ate at a wedding 2 years ago). Don't try to please everyone else, it's completely impossible. :)

    1. Hey Jenna!! It's so nice to hear from you! Thanks for your nice note :) I've actually thought about selling them at a farmer's market so maybe I will.
      Where are you guys these days?

    2. We are on the Mediterranean in Turkey! Crazy, right?! Sean got a job coaching football at a university here. It's so stinkin beautiful here and it's been great to get out of our comfort zone and live in another culture.