Friday, August 22, 2014

Making seed bead mixes for the LBS

The bead society I belong to, the Loose Bead Society of Greater Milwaukee, frequently gets bead donations from companies, past members, or other jewelry makers in the community.  Sometimes it's just a few beads here and there or a slightly bigger donation, and sometimes it's the entire bead stash (primarily when someone passes away).

I'm sure you can imagine the monumental task of sorting, storing, and figuring out what to do with all of these lovely beads.  Some of the destinations are: community service projects, hands-on programs, and the Bead&Button Show raffle (the "jar 'o beads" and basket of seed bead tubes).

Along with the raffle, we raise money for the society by selling seed bead mixes made with the donated seed beads (and a few larger ones here and there) where there aren't enough to make up a full tube.  That's what I helped with today.

I didn't think to bring my camera, and I didn't think I could blog about this until we were nearly done, but I do have some pictures taken with my iPhone that should give you an idea of what we did.

Kathy (our president and my friend) dumped out bags upon bags of baggies of seed beads.  There must have been a few hundred little bags (or more).  Then we sorted them by main color - all the reds here, the blues there, etc.  Kathy orchestrated the whole thing, using deli containers from the grocery store to dump baggies in - either the solid colors that we sorted or ones that were already mixed but needed changing up.

I dutifully emptied all of the bags she put on my mat:

into the container:

and then stirred it with the cutest little baby spoon so we could see how the mix would look:

Sometimes Kathy would say, "That's good," or she'd toss over a few more baggies to add to the mix.  This one was probably not the best one to photograph because they're all similar colors, but like I said, we were near the end.  This was the last one I did.

Let me show you a few more mixes.  Here's "Bouganvillea", which Kathy assures me is a plant:

Here is "Rock Star":

And here is the one I most had fun with:

There was a tub with all reds and some whites, and we split it up to get two mixes with different looks.  Kathy gave me a bunch of pinks, for something that could be called "That's Amore", but it started looking like bubblegum or something more cutesy.  Suddenly I realized what it reminded me of: Hello Kitty!  I picked out all of the flower beads from the other mix, and this "Hello Kitty" mix was complete.

After three hours of work, this is all we had left:

Imagine this whole table littered with tubs and baggies.  The entire table.  It was a mess.  :)

Kathy estimates we created about thirty mixes.  The names are all really cute:  "Riders on the Storm", "Play Misty for Me", "Judy Blue Eyes", "Shaken, Not Stirred".

She really is quite talented at this whole process.  I don't think I could have come up with some of the mixes she did.  She showed me one with browns and topazes and some gold, and she asked what I thought.  I just looked at her and said, "You're asking me about a brown mix?"  She laughed and said I had a point.  Anything brown and topaz and gold just looks wrong to me.  Not that it is wrong - it's just that I'm very much not fond of those colors so have problems seeing them as pretty.  My husband likes those colors, so I tap him as a resource when necessary.

Anyway - here's the bowl with all of the mixes waiting to be put in tubes:

And here is the same size bowl with all of the empty baggies:

That's an awful lot of baggies.

What do people do with these mixes?  I'm not sure.  I'm sure some of them are strung as is, or they're used for bead embroidery.  I used some for the make 'n take keys I did for the Art Glass and Bead Show in Madison, and I like using them as edgings for my bead embroidery projects.  Anything else I find myself picking the colors I want out of the mix, which really defeats its purpose.  If you have any ideas, feel free to leave a comment here.

Want to see more of the bead mixes or to pick up one that you saw here?  Come to the Milwaukee Bead Show on October 5th and look for the LBS table!  (While you're there, stop by my table and say hi!)

No comments:

Post a Comment