Friday, September 24, 2010

Chinovski Love

I've never been a big fan of cut crystal beads, because of the sharp edges, so I've used Czech fire-polished beads in my beadweaving. Great colours, reasonably priced, available everywhere.

At bead shows I'd see these Chinese beads that looked more like fire-polished beads than Austrian crystal for next to nothing, and I'd buy them from time to time, but the bead holes were sharp so they were really good only for embellishment or stringing. Turns out you do get what you pay for. And honestly the colours weren't all that fabulous, and the AB finish (aurora borealis, a pale oilslick-like coating) was fragile, so I didn't use them much.

Then a couple of years ago, a new grade of Chinese crystal hit the market. Still very reasonably priced, but the finishes were stunningly gorgeous - all sorts of peacock iridescences - they were available in a range of shapes and sizes (big!) and I was weak. The holes were still a little sharp, but the huge rondelles worked very well in a simple earring design I obsessed over for a while.

Cut back to a year and a half ago when I came up with a pattern for beaded bead caps for large beads that used rather small Czech rondelles, I think about 4x3mm. I made a few necklaces and released a pattern which has been very popular.

Then starting about six to nine months ago, my local bead store didn't seem to have too many rondelles in that size, and none of my favourite on-line haunts did either, and they were scarce at the bead shows too. I'd buy them whenever I saw them, but had to settle for colours I didn't love, not a huge compromise as the rondelles are not prominent in the design, but annoying.

I already posted a picture of the Fauxbergé pendant I made with some of the beads I bought when I taught a class this past Tuesday, but held off mentioning the others (for one, a litany of purchases is rather dull) until I had something to report.

The rondelles looked as though they were very similar to the Czech rondelles I'd been using in my Bead Caps pattern, but I wasn't sure they'd work.
The smoky blue ones are Czech, the aqua are Chinese. They're basically the same gross dimensions, but are pointier.
And a perfect substitution for the elusive Czech rondelles.

My local bead store doesn't have them in the metallic-like colours and finishes that I favour, but I will certainly be able to manage with the colours they do have, and now that I know that the size is right, I can scour the interwebs for colours I do like.
And I tested my instructions for an upcoming class.

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