Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lesson #458

I buy Japanese seed beads for kits mainly from two online suppliers (and seed beads for I-Must-Have-It-Now from my local bead store where I teach), and I've noticed a trend.

There are three Japanese seed bead manufacturers that I know of: Miyuki, Toho and Matsuno. Miyuki and Toho beads are pretty much indistinguishable in terms of size and shape, but Matsuno are a little taller. For many stitches it doesn't really matter all that much with regard to the success of the project.

Sometimes it does.

So I've noticed that some online suppliers now include a disclaimer/information notice that says something to the effect that their seed beads may come from any of the three manufacturers depending on availability, but not all the suppliers actually note which manufacturer supplied a given bead (which I guess could change from shipment to shipment).

Unfortunately this can be make-or-break information.
I was working on the instructions for the above necklace, which I'm due to teach in two and a half weeks. (Amazingly, my preparation for this Tuesday's class is complete). I'd also planned on releasing a kit for this design, and had ordered beads for it last week.

The original necklace uses Toho beads in a matte metallic finish, and in general I think it's true to say that the metallic finish (but NOT the new permanent galvanized finish) on Japanese seed beads (particularly Toho and Miyuki) results in a shorter bead than silverlined, matte transparent and some other lined beads (transparent beads with some sort of inner colour that shows through). It really doesn't matter in a flat or tubular herringbone or peyote piece, but can be a problem in flat circular peyote, which is what I was working on.

To get a flat circle in peyote, you can either increase by a count of six every third round, or you can graduate to a bigger seed bead size, which is the technique that this project uses.

The tall Matsuno size 11 beads (I just checked my supplier) naturally result in a larger circle than the shorter Toho and Miyuki beads, and switching to size 8 beads for the last two rounds also represents a faster increase in circumference with Matsuno than with Toho and Miyuki.


Unintentional, unwanted ruffles.

The three joined circles above use Matsunos, and the dark circle in the foreground uses Tohos and Miyukis. I even made the inner "spokes" of the wheels of the Matsuno circles taller to accommodate the larger circumference (remember high school geometry? Circumference = 2 ∏ radius? It's true).

The problem is that in order to use Matsuno beads (and probably any silver-lined beads too, which are quite a bit taller - and as it turns out the same holds for Czech seed beads) I have to rework this pattern so much (the spokes have to be taller and there have to be more rounds of size 11s OR the step up to 8s has to be gradual) that it changes the look of each component in a way I do not find pleasing, and besides, it means I have to write a multi-sized pattern which realistically should be a flow chart which I suspect is less pleasing to those unused to same.

What this means is that if I make this pattern available alone, the resulting project will be ghastly if people try to use the wrong beads, and quite frankly, it's not always easy to determine if the beads you have are the right beads. You can't always really see just by looking at the beads, and even if you have full information about the seed beads in your hands, that particular colour may just be anomolously taller and then you're screwed.

Yes, I realise that this isn't serious and that it's not in any way contributing to the downfall of the global economy, but in my little world for this one little task, it's the cause of irk.

Naturally the beads I ordered for both colourways of the kit I was planning are wrong, dead wrong. Fortunately I didn't plan on seventy-leven kits, so I don't have piles and piles of wrong beads, and anyway, there really always is another good use for them, but still.

1 comment:

Lynn said...'s always something, isn't it?