I love these memes -- thanks to Heather Powers of Humblebeads for starting this one! I feel connected to fellow creatives and, while there is a theme, I can do my own thing. So today I'll show you what's on my "bead table" (right now it's a lap table by my bedside because I'm still kind of in hibernation mode) and write about suppliers. Being snowbound and far from civilization isn't what it used to be thanks to the Internet and e-commerce. Although I do sometimes miss going to bead shops to fondle the gemstones and drool over the lampwork glass and dream about how to use the great variety of beads and findings I see, I can do plenty of drooling and dreaming as I navigate through online shops that may be located anywhere from Albuquerque to Sweden to Hong Kong. I have a few reliable suppliers of basics, but lately I'm turning to Etsy for both unique handmade components and basic findings. Recently I went on a bit of a shopping spree and today decided to show some of the amazing creations I've picked up from fellow Etsy sellers. I much prefer to support the artisans and small entrepreneurs, and now that I have a more defined style and have found some wonderful smaller, more personal suppliers I've all but stopped ordering from places like Fire Mountain (their "handling fee" on top of shipping charges really ticks me off).
For general supplies such as glass and crystal beads, findings, and cord I usually order from Fusion Beads (free shipping on all US orders and frequent discount coupons via email and Facebook) or Artbeads.com (free shipping on US orders above $10). If I were doing a higher volume I'd surely be ordering from wholesalers, but for what I do these suppliers offer a good range of products, and they also offer some volume discounting and have more artisan-made pieces for sale than larger suppliers. Recently I've found some great Etsy sellers who offer both basic and unique findings for very reasonable prices, and I've been especially happy to find lots of cool brass and copper findings there because, with silver prices going into the stratosphere, I've needed to adjust the composition and style of my pieces somewhat. From necessity has come a new burst of creativity and a shift towards an earthier style, so of course I had to go shopping for new components to better express this new style....
Handmade ceramic pendants and buttons from Beadfreaky
For the really good stuff -- handmade ceramic, lampwork glass, patinated metals, polymer clay, and other artisan components -- I always check Etsy first and have been bowled over by what I have found there. Hence my recent shopping spree (and the title of this post), both because I have found so many beautiful things and because I had let my supplies dwindle over the past two years (since my last trip to Tucson, sniff!!). I can't say I'm done buying because I'm still low on lampwork glass (especially non-focals; I need some rounds and saucers to go with the gorgeous lampwork hearts below), and geez, these creative people keep making more beautiful stuff! Now to find the time to use it all in new creations... given that it's only early February and gardening is still a few months away here, that shouldn't be a problem, so I hope to have lots of new stuff to show here shortly!