Convergent Series

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Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

It’s been great knowing you, Pat Catan’s…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/01/30

We’ve seen it coming, as all sorts of brick and mortar stores struggle to compete against online shopping. (While there are times when I appreciate the convenience of online shopping, I do highly value both the touch and serendipity of in-store shopping…)

We knew it was coming, three years ago, when Michael’s bought Pat Catan’s … not for the few dozen wonderful regional stores, but for Darice and the other wholesale operations behind it. (Have you noticed that Darice products have disappeared from JoAnn’s? That’s because Michael’s now owns Darice…)

We’ve known it was coming, watching some of the changes in the inventory and pricing that have slowly but surely changed the feel of Pat Catan’s stores over the past three years.

But it was still a sad day, today, when Michael’s announced that they will be closing all the Pat Catan’s stores. (A handful will be reopened, rebranded as Michael’s stores, but we don’t yet know whether those will be the ones in less-urban areas where the loss of any store would be a big loss.)

And, from here in Pittsburgh, I will admit that it hurt even more that the best article I could find on the whole thing came from Cleveland:

We knew loss was coming. I’m just trying to be thankful for the roughly three extra years we had before it did. So I’ll close with a photo of one of my “serendipity finds” from Pat Catan’s: I still remember the time I went to grab a quick roll of vinyl and found the clear, flat-bottom card-holder ornaments from Darice that I’ve been happily decorating (as a fun, back-porch, summer project that later helps to boost holiday-season sales) for a number of years now…


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Just Some of What I’ll Be Making-With!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2014/03/08

I thought about using the photo I include here as the “punch line” to the post I wrote yesterday about shopping, then decided it deserved its own little spot.

The twenty-four tubes in the front are most (but, aack my wallet cries out, not quite all) of what I had shipped back from the workshop at Hadar’s last month: all five of the new clay powders we were able to try out: Champagne Bronze, Dark Champagne Bronze, Friendly Bronze, Friendly Copper, and White Satin. The seven tubes along the back contain prepared clay (i.e., already mixed with water) that I hadn’t yet finished off so, in addition to the new five, there’s also some Low Shrinkage Steel XT and Pearl Gray Steel XT in that row.

What’s missing from the photo? Well, I store my clay in a repurposed CD cabinet with lots of little cubby-holes. I already had spots for the two older steels; had those put away before I thought to take a photo; and then couldn’t even remember how many new tubes I’d added to the existing stash… The thing is, Hadar has at least one more “friendly” clay coming out (i.e., that debinders and sinters in a single firing comparable in length to that of the much-easier-to-fire fine silver), and it’s a Friendly Rose Bronze. I’ve loved working with her original Rose Bronze since I first got my hands on it, so I know I’ll be ordering some of that before I’ve worked my way through all these.

Not to worry, though, I’ve got a workshop series coming up in April and May. It’s based on the Teacher Accreditation program from which I just graduated, expanding offerings I’ve been offering for several years. I’ll be ordering more clay powders for participants to use in that, and will get myself some Friendly Rose Bronze then. (And, no, I don’t know the date when they’ll be officially released to the public. As an Accredited Teacher of Hadar’s Clays, I can get small amounts early, not enough to stock a reseller’s shop, but all that I need for my own testing and teaching, which is great!)

So I need to stop nattering here and go make some pieces to sell, and teach some workshops (including several more using fine silver this month!), to bring in enough money to pay for all these purchases: the travel and workshop expenses, studio rent and insurance, as well as the clays, beads, chains, and all!


p.s., There are still some openings in my various classes and workshops, so do let me know if you’d be interested in taking any of them! (Although, since some have far fewer open seats than others, I suggest you let me know quickly….)

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I’ve been shopping….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2014/03/07

I hang out with beaders even though I don’t do a lot of beading myself. (I’ve discussed that in several other posts, with topics such as finishing, framing and wrapping … as in wrapping a package, not the wire-wrapping my bead-friends will think of first!) Still, I like the bead shop “culture” and the exuberance of some larger bead shows (not so much the huge, exhausting ones; I prefer “medium” sized shows … ones I think of as being bigger than a typical shop): I enjoy spending time at those, shopping, just looking, and talking with others I meet there.

So in my recent West Coast trip, I had a great time checking out Harlequin Beads & Jewelry in Eugene, Oregon. Sally and John, the friends I was visiting, had a few other commitments on the Friday afternoon. John biked over to the University of Oregon, where he’s auditing a class. Sally and I went out to lunch, followed by a stop at Harlequin where we both picked up some items. Then, while she went a couple blocks away to work for a couple hours, I sat in the shop working the bits Sally had bought into a necklace she plans to give to her granddaughter. It had adorable little shamrock and Celtic knot beads (for her Irish heritage) in sterling silver that I interspersed with sapphire-colored crystals (the color of her birthstone) and finished with sterling chain and clasp. Too bad that I didn’t get a decent photo of that. But I can show you the two strands of beads I brought home for myself…

The day after I got home, the Intergalactic Bead Show was in town. A number of my local bead-friends added a lot to their stashes from that! I got were a few chains (one a very practical copper, two a nice but slightly pricey rose gold). I did pick up just couple strands of beads too, in colors I thought would go with some of the copper and bronze I’ve been working with lately. Still, my haul from that was tiny compared to what I know some others headed home with.

The next weekend, when Bead Mercantile came to town, I heard much less about stash-building. I’m not sure if those friends were shopped-out, or what. But, personally, I was much happier with what I found there, even though I will admit I didn’t buy any beads from the traveling vendors there either.

With my own travel-bills yet to pay, I restricted my bead-buying there to “local artist supports other local artists” purchases:

Jessica Rutherford was there with some of her gorgeous hand-made glass beads, but what I took off her hands were a few items from her “stash clearing” sale, big jade washers and double-drilled snowflake obsidian beads, all of which will combine well with other beads already in my own stash.

My one real splurge in all this shopping involved two lovely hand-made glass beads from Karen Leonardo. I’ve admired her work for years, thinking that many of her designs in glass exhibited a style and sensibility compatible with what I often try to do in metals. It may take a while for my clay to tell me how it wants to play with either or both of these beads, but now I can take my time admiring them as I contemplate that. The hard part is going to be putting up for sale whatever the result ends up being!

Finally, though, I know that if we want vendors to come to town, we really need to support them when they do. So I spent the rest of my money buying chains! The lucky-thirteen different styles or colors shown below (in increasing-price order, from left to right) were chosen because I thought they might go well with pieces made from the same metals as shown in my own hand-made piece I display with them (it’s Low Shrinkage Steel, Copper, Champagne Bronze, and Dark Chanmpagne Bronze).

Now it’s time to get back to work. I’m preparing for a class I’ll be teaching this weekend (a mosaic project in silver), and hope to return to making next week.

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The January Sale at Bead Paradise

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/02/11

Here’s another report from back during my little blog-hiatus.

First, a bit of background: My jewelry-friend Alice and I have been talking about going to “Bead Paradise II” in Oberlin, OH, for several years now. We live several hours apart (she is NE of here) and the shop is several more hours off in yet another direction (NW of me, and over double the distance of that to her place). Somehow, we just never managed to find a slot in our schedules when both of us had both the time and some extra funds available … and the weather cooperated … and neither of our cars were acting up …. and I think you get the idea. We do find ways to get together for guild meetings and play days and such, but organizing that trip was just one step too complicated. But we both wanted to go….

So, last November, Alice and a friend near her made the trip. And, in January, I found another friend to make the trip with. It’s not that I needed anything in particular: I really do have enough of a bead-stash. So I will admit it: I was determined to get there during the “January sale” so I would not feel quite so guilty that I simply wanted the “experience”…. And, yes, it was wonderful!

I did buy a number of strands of various shapes, styles, and sizes of wooden beads, because I’d all but run out of those. And several yards of brass chain. And half a dozen different little connectors, plus several different kinds of earwires, just a sampling of each to play with and see which ones I might like the most in practice. (Sometimes I can predict that very well, and sometimes I surprise myself when I actually sit down to assemble things.) Plus, since they were on sale, I also got some extra bits and pieces (needles, glue, etc.) that I know I’ll use soon enough.

But what I’m wondering is this: have any of the regular readers of this blog noticed the thing that is “most different” about the photo–with a sample of that collection–that I include with this post? Here’s a hint: most of the time, I photograph jewelry with a plain, white background.

That is, the hint is in the background here: my biggest “treat” from the trip was the sweater I also bought. You can get a little peek at it in the background of this photo, although it’s the design that caught my eye as much as the colors. (If I ever get a photo of myself wearing it, I’ll post that. But that’s a big if….) Because the place is more than just a bead store. They also carry clothing, bags, beauty products, rugs, fabrics, and more.

As it says on the FAQs page at their website, “To see our selection is to believe it! If you can possibly come to see our store in person, that is truly the best way to shop.” I do agree with that!

Happy shopping to you, at whatever location fires your imagination!

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Adding to the stash: some beads too….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/11/13

I really had promised myself that I would use up some of the bead stash before acquiring any more items but, sometimes, “opporunities” not worth passing up just seem to appear … which is, of course, the foundation of stashes! The other thing I’ll say is that the photos with this post are not to scale, so I’ll progress from smallest to largest.

The gold-color two-hole beads (first photo, right) really are tiny little seed beads. I had an idea a while ago for something I wanted to try, but hadn’t quite figured out how to make it work. I’m not sure if these will fit the way I want, and I’ve got lots of other things to finish up before starting that exploration. Still, when I’m ready, I’ll have these to experiment with.

The second photo (left) shows a few of the small- to medium-size beads I got at Zelda’s going-out-of-business sale. I’d made a few pieces several years ago where I used up a strand of a larger version of the little sand-tumbled agate beads, and kept telling myself I should get some of the smaller ones. Though I’m sure I could have found them somewhere else, had I looked, it just seemed worth picking them up before they disappeared from the known-source. While looking for them, I “stumbled upon” the bluish dumortierite beads in two different shapes and immediately had a few ideas for those too.

Now, I don’t often buy very big beads. Since I make my own metal “focal beads” that I string with purchased gemstones, I don’t want the stones to overshadow my creations. But, again, as Zelda’s was closing, these large jade and jasper beads (at least 1″ across) were going for such a “good” price, that I figured I’d get them and see what even-bigger items they might inspire.

But the piece in the last photo is the one that prompted me to write about the latest additions to the stash: I like light blue agates in general and I find various kinds of crystals to be interesting, so this blue chalcedony druzy was just too good to resist. It’s well over an inch and a half long, and came from S&S Lapidary at the Bead Mercantile show. I have really no clue how I’ll use it: it clearly deserves to be a focal point on its own, so the challenge will be to design some metal-work that will complement it appropriately.

Then again, challenges are fun. That’s a really big part of what I like most about doing all this!

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Adding to the stash: Chains!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/11/11

I’ve been amazingly restrained in my bead-buying lately. But I’ve made up for that, in part, by buying chain. Not finished necklace pieces, but by-the-foot lengths that I can cut up into segments and intersperse with beads for hanging some of my hand-made pendants.

The first photo with the post (right) shows spirals with some of the chains I got at Zelda’s store-closing sale. I might have bought more then, but she had already sold out on much of it.

The second photo (left) shows crossed-lines of some small segments of vintage chains that I bought from CoolTools. I might have bought more but, just looking online, I wasn’t sure how big some of the segments / elements were in each design. So I bought short-ish lengths and can just hope that my favorites will still be in stock when I go back to order some longer segments.

And the last photo, again to the right, shows waves of some of the chains that I got from three different vendors at the recent Bead Mercantile show. The brass- and copper-plated finishes are ones I expected; the two brightest “pink” ones (rightmost) are both a somewhat-surprising-to-find rose gold plated. I’m not entirely sure what I may do with those so, again, I just bought a couple relatively short segments that I can play with as I finish assembling pieces for Holiday-season sales. Unless, of course, I decide to just hold off on using the rose gold segmants until I’ve had a chance to make some more pieces in a rose-bronze.

I’ll just have to clear off a work table, then spread out chains and beads and pieces I’ve made, and start rearranging elements until at least some things start to fall into place. I just hope I’ll remember to take a few photos, so I can post some of the results here before the year is out.

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One thing I did this weekend….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/30

… was to go to the Bead Mercantile show organized by Jane’s Fiber and Beads. It’s a small show, but I really like a few of the specific vendors that show up there.

I bought some nice small crystal beads (to use mostly on earrings), three larger drilled stones (that I’ll use with some hand-made headpins embellished with metal clay), and a few clear glass beads with colored linings (that I just found interesting, and will use in beadwork somehow).

But my favorite find of the day were several miscellaneous pieces of crazy lace agate from S & S Lapidary (who always bring such a lovely collection to this show). These are polished, in various almost “natural” shapes, and the challenge will be to figure out how to set them.

Suggestions are welcome! Comments on this blog are, of course, fine. But if you’re one of my local readers and plan to find yourself in the neighborhood of my studio, let me know (to be sure I’ll actually be there) and come on up to see several more of these pieces and suggest some designs.

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Late Summer Weekends.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/09/13

What is it with weekends as summer draws to a close, so jam-packed with all sorts of things “to be fit in” before the season ends? This past weekend was one of those. I’ll mention a few of the more relevant events.

On Satuday, I went to the InterGalactic bead show as it passed through town. I didn’t buy very much: the thought of picking up much of anything that I’d then have to move at the end of the month when I get my new studio put some brakes on those tendencies. I did buy a few tools, ones that I’ll discuss later, once I’m settled into studio and happily using them. And I bought a couple little pieces to use in displaying work in that studio. I was really trying to resist buying beads, though I did pick up one quartz piece and a few hanks of crystals (sample shown right).

After that, I headed over to meet some friends (and just run into others, of course) at A Fair in the Park, which is one of my favorite local shows. No photos of my purchases there, however, all of which will be holiday gifts and those folks may read this. (Then I ended the day with a great barbecue dinner in perfect late-summer weather.)

On Sunday, our local chapter of the PMC Guild met for a “field trip” to the Carnegie Museum. Nominally, it was to see the current special exhibit, “Pittsburgh Adorned,” but the best part was that you had to pass through the wonderful halls of Minerals and Gems to get to that. We checked out a few other exhibits quickly and had a short business meeting over drinks in the “Fossil Fuels” cafe (which you access by going through the Dinosaur Hall…). Then, most folks headed home, while Barbara and I (we’d carpooled) decided we had enough time left to head down for the tail end of the grand opening weekend of the Pittsburgh Public Market. Interesting food and crafts but, for local readers of this blog, probably the best news is that the wonderful Zelda’s Bead Kit Company has a booth there too!

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Von’s Beads

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/08/10

Lest you think that the only treats I bought were those in the Vendors’ Hall, please let me correct that impression. Although I didn’t go on a buying binge “across the street” either, one of the delights of having the PMC Conference held at Purdue is the chance to shop at Von’s.

Now, West Lafayette is a college town, and Von’s is a sort of all-purpose store. Music and books and toys and more. And beads. Four rooms with beads. Four of them! Shown is one of the two smaller ones: stuffed animals up to eye-level part-way down each side, and then beads everywhere else: along the back walls and, everywhere, up to the old, high ceiling. I snapped this one because it’s the only room of a size that I could entirely capture on my phone’s cameral This is only a taste, a sample, an idea of the possibilities!

That’s the fourth room they opened. The third room is a bit longer and a lot wider with a divider across part of it that adds to the wall space available for hanging beads. It also has a huge collection of greeting cards, and a number of lovely art cards, and gifts and candles and more.

The second room is also kind of small, and is the “rock shop.” It has all kinds of goodies: geodes, fossils, and more, all crammed into a series of shelving units that twist around to fill every possible space. With each visit, you may select one free item from their small stock of sample rocks each with its own information card. I chose a sample of unakite (mostly becasue I’d just bought the fireable triangle CZs and this was a triangular stone I’d have to set post-firing, so I liked the idea of the contrasting processes), and then I bought four small pieces of blue moss chalcedony that I figured I’d use in some experinents I’ve been considering for some handmade prong settings. (Debbie had bought some of Holly Gage’s gorgeous titanium; but I really want to _master_ prongs before I go that route.)

And the first room is almost entirely beads. Well, there are a few narrow shelves with some Native American pottery and wooden boxes, and the checkout counter, but the rest is bead, beads, more beads, tables of beads, walls of beads, strands of beads, tubes of beads, bins of beads, selections of findings, groups of tools, and more.

My selections from there included two bead-types that are not typically on my shopping list: some carved resin beads from the “new arrivals” wall, and some goldstone on a strand that included several different sizes & shapes. Having just started to experiment with copper and bronze clays, I thought these might work well with some new creations there.

And while I was at it, I also picked up a few larger stones, drilled down through the center, including these two: seaweed quartz and porcelain jasper. I’ve been making custom headpins in various shapes, and I plan to do something along that line with these. And the matte black Czech glass beads (from the back of the “fourth” room) were just to fill a gap in the bead-stash that I’d noted a few months ago as I was working out some designs. I’ve no specific plan for them, but I like black with silver, so they’ll be used soon enough.

If you’ve ever been to Von’s, please be sure to add a comment. Or, if you’d like to go to Von’s some time, or want to suggest another great bead shop, note that too!

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Conference Vendors’ Hall … and my selections

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/08/09

Well, I’d started writing up reports of various aspects of the PMC Guild Conference at Purdue (for any readers, but these were intended in particular for my local guild-chapter mates who were unable to join Debbie, Donna, and me there this year). Then I got distracted by a few other developments. But here’s another of those reports.

Many of the vendors who sell metal clay and related products participate in a Vendors Hall. Particpating vendors in 2010 included (in alpha-order):

Gem Resources
Metal Clay Findings
Naturescapes Studio

Oregon Sunstone
PMC 123
PMC Connection
PMC Supply
Rio Grande
Whole Lotta Whimsy

and one or two others that I am blanking on at the moment. (If you can identify any others who were there, please leave a comment to help me out and I’ll be happy to update that list!)

I didn’t buy as much this time as I did in 2008: a little bit of that is “the economy” but mostly ’twas because I’ve done a pretty good job of stocking my studio since then. Yes, there are some items I still want, but either they are pricier things (I have to sell some more pieces to earn the money for those) or they just weren’t available at the show. But I did go for one “splurge”….

I’ve been getting e-mailings from Metal Clay Findings for some time now, but had not actually bought anything from them before last week. They have a lot of interesting fine silver components, plus bronze and copper ones, that work well with metal clay (ring shanks, for example, that you can embellish, and embeddable eyelets and bails), although I’ve remained happy working out ways to make my own. But the thing that drew me in this time was this tool:

On the right side of the photo is a little piece I made using the tool at their booth with their sample materials. (Yep, I’ll bring it to Clay Play Day this month for local folks to see.) There’s a rectangular copper blank to which iI added a bronze bail and a little bronze star. Both are riveted on: the bail, with a close-top rivet, and the star with a tube-rivet. You use a separate setting bit for each of those, so that’s the extra handle and little round seat; the allen wrench is what you use to swap that part out.

What the hardened steel tool does is to punch a hole of exactly the right size to accommodate either kind of rivet. Not that one can’t do this by hand, of course, but with this tool it is just soooo easy and quick and smooth. In finished products, what I’ll be trading is this: spreading out the cost of the tool instead of charging for my time to do them laboriously by hand. This may come easy to you, and I’m not too bad myself with larger rivets, but these are lovely little jewelry-size ones! Fiddly to work with, but super-easy to set with this device! I’ve been doodling design ideas, and hope to have some samples shortly. (For me, please note, “doodling” means cutting out and building little 3-D models more often than it means sketching ideas on paper, so that step often takes me a while…)

I also bought a collection of pre-cut rivets and eyelets to use with the tool (though, over time, I will experiment with comparing the use of these versus making my own).

Just for the sake of comprehensiveness, I’ll mention the other “little” things I picked up:

Since I’d broken down and started buying from Metal Clay Findings, I also tucked in a small sample of their bails and embeddables. I look forward to comparing the use of these to the ones I’ve cobbled together by hand:

I’d been perfectly happy using hockey pucks as rubber bench blocks, shown in the upper right of this photo (Go, Penguins!), but I decided to spring for one with a hole in the middle too (upper left). And, rather than have to remember to take brushes from my studio to class sites, I picked up a couple extra of those (one each, brass and steel) so I can just pack a set (probably my older ones) in my class-kit.

And then Gem Resources had a little bin with “3 packs for $10” CZs, so I picked up three sets of cut triangles, in three different sizes. I’ve not done much with ones that shape, but figured this was a chance to give a few a try.

If you were there and found any other goodies, please feel free to leave a comment describing them!

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