Sunday, December 2, 2012

'Tis the Season for 'Inspikeration'

Well it's December. The Xmas lights are out, a lot of unfinished bead projects are laying around the house as thoughts are diverted to family, friends and festivities. I was thinking it was a good time for some eggnog or 'Spiked' eggnog and some 'Inspikeration', which basically means some bead reflection and hymns.

There are now four sizes of spikes on the market: 5x8mm,5x13mm,7x17mm and 12x18mm, with 2 more variations on their way soon, if the bead elves allow. is very pleased with the Facebook Bohemian Spike Beadwork group we started. A special thanks to Kerrie Slade for her administrative and 'cleaning the chimneys work', but more importantly a show of gratitude to all the spike beadwork from Kerrie and ALL talented artists around the world. 

It's a pleasure seeing posts from all over the world, all using the same emerging bead product. The diversity of uses and techniques, as well as the array of color choices is awesome to observe. To share the joy, we are sharing some great holiday ornament designs with spikes from around the globe. We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Czech Bohemian Gumdrop Beads

Spikes have been moving along nicely! The October 2012 issue of Bead and Button will feature them on the cover with the caption "Add drama to your designs". My middle name is David not drama but there are always challenges in establishing a new product. We have added sizes 5x8mm and 12x18mm and we are building a color selection in these new sizes, especially the 5x8mm which seems to mix seemlessly with beadwork. Although we try to put our face on this new product by no means do we believe we invented this shape. It has existed in other forms such as metal and stone,and we have seen evidence of glass spikes from West Germany and Czechoslovakia. The current Czech spike you see in the marketplace is the result of a friendship and business relationship of almost 25 years between an American bead importer and his Czech expediter. Thinking about the creation of the spike, I wondered what else we could produce, even if not so edgy, that could influence beadwork. Somehow, like a craving, a picture of fruity gumdrop candy appeared in my mind. Unlike a cabochon these gumdrops have a hole at the base for ease of use, and extend 10mm high with a base diameter of 7mm. Because they are pressed they are produced affordably and can come in many juicy colors and finishes. We have just started our production but hope they satisfy your craving for unusual beads to enhance your designs. Thanks to many bead artists, some I have known for years and others I have met through their work with spikes, for their exceptence and appreciation of these beads. Much effort has been made, especially by my friend Jaromir, to bring these beads to life. Your work gives us much satisfaction. Pbeads

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saluting the Stripes

The original: As featured in August Bead and Button: Bead Soup Thanks to Julia Gerlach, Bead and Button editor, for egging me on, LOL.
Saluting the Stripe As a 3rd generation bead man, I’ve been surrounded by beads my entire life. After 25 years they are a commodity I depend on but trade beads intrigued me from a young age. There are many types of trade beads and, though I admire them all, I love and collect glass trade beads. I find the Millefiori and lamp work beads of the Venetian varieties to be beautiful. Of the Czech styles my favorites are Russian, Vaseline and stripe seed beads.
Stripe seed beads?! I know, most people don’t think of seed beads as collectible. They are plentiful, sold by weight, generally small in size, and challenging to work with. (I am considering bifocals!) Yet, as Vladimir Sulc, North American sales representative for PRECIOSA ORNELA, recently pointed out to me, stripe seed beads are essentially no different than chevrons. Both are made of composition glass in which layers of melted glass strips of one color are applied by hand to the base glass ingot while it is still hot. This same process is also used for white hearts and greasy seed beads, primarily produced in France and the Czech Republic. Chevrons have up to seven layers while for a stripe seed bead the contrast color only coats the base color once.
So, what are trade beads and why are stripe seed beads included in this category? Beads may or may not have been a form of currency, but they absolutely played a big part in African local commerce and ceremonial culture. A market was created for beads in Africa and they were obtained by trade, be it in exchange for fur coats, forms of labor, etc. As time passed and the continent grew, the tables reversed. Collectors and accessory makers in North America and Europe were now in search of beads, especially during the hippie movement, while the African traders were in search of blue jeans and other necessities. Trade beads and their folklore became the muse for bead store owners and enthusiasts while African culture was able to obtain its own imports more readily to satisfy the local marketplace. Seed beads, especially stripes and white hearts, were an affordable way to adorn one’s self in replace of chevrons and other lamp work beads. Stripe seed beads became more desirable as the price of chevron and lamp work beads increased. “Christmas beads”, a mix of mostly white-based seed beads with accents of yellow and red are a popular example of stripe trade beads. As time passed more stripe seed bead were seen in a typical African trader’s collection. The money needed to stock Venetian beads could be insurmountable for a trader. Bone, brass, African-made “bottled” glass became more abundant in a traders collection, as did stripe seed beads.
What makes stripe seed bead collectible? Although the answer is subjective, for me something is collectible when you just do not see it in the active marketplace. For example, of the Czech stripe seed beads, it is hard to find a red color white heart in a true bloody color. Also, a light brown (not Burgundy) stripe seed bead is more unusual. Seed beads from Murano, Venice are rare. When I first started working in 1987, I saw the remnants of Italian seed bead-making at our 37th street New York City location. “Societa Veneziana” was emblazoned on the Italian seed bead sample cards. White core Italian seed beads that are round and tubular with vivid colorful stripes are very unusual. I am least familiar with French seed beads, but they are known for their white hearts and old-time greasy colors.
Historically, stripe seed beads have always been affordable. They are sold by the kilogram, equivalent to 2.2 pounds. The smallest is 10/o at 2.4 mm, ranging up to the largest size of 34/o at 9mmm. Ornela, the Czech seed bead factory formerly associated with JABLONEX, merged with PRECIOSA, a worldwide leader in bead fashion and advocate for “traditional” Czech glass-making. The resulting company, PRECIOSA ORNELA, is still making stripe seed beads using the same old-world techniques. Mr. Sulc explained to me that stripe seed beads were always priced affordably. By keeping the range of merchandise comparably priced, all colors could be incorporated into beadwork without cost considerations. Now, because of inflation and the experienced handwork needed to apply the stripes onto the glass rod, stripe seed beads have become more expensive and appreciated in value.
Today, stripe seed beads are still exported plentifully to African and other third world countries. They are also used as rosary beads in third world nations. Followers of Santeria, a religious belief concentrated in Caribbean countries, many of who are African descendants, are avid users of striped seed beads. The different color combinations have different spiritual meanings and are connected to African culture and beliefs. Yet, we do not see much use of stripe seed beads in today’s more modern seed bead work. Recently I have been experimenting with stripe seed beads by getting them re-coated with silver oxide to create what is commonly known as “Picasso”. This has been a successful way to recreate that old trade bead look. It adds a permanent layer to the core glass. Beware! Traders may roll beads in the dirt to age them, but dirt will wash away.
I, too, love the sparkle of the “Hex” bead and the shine of the, Charlotte. Bead weavers, crocheters and embroiderers have created a new art form and have changed the look of common seed bead work. In the past, core opaque colors were the basis of tribal seed bead work, with effects like stripes adding layers. Today “bling” is king, but you are not a true purveyor without getting a little dirty. Let’s salute the stripe! There is no other seed bead with such a rich history.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How a Garden or a Bead Collection Grows

Following up to my last blog, International Bead Espionage, and admiring bead work from around the world, its amazing how prolific all artist are. Have been admiring the work of or the Warrior Queen and her Midnight Garden collection, where all work is based on a constant seed bead base. I have been honored that she has accented her garden with some innovative Czech beads.Building a garden, or a stock base or a bead collection takes time and perseverance. Beads do not grow on trees and needles do not come with remote control. Have been working on my aged striped seed bead collection myself. Although uses mostly modern materials it pays homage to the beads of the past, more notably trade beads, which i grew up with(more on that later). Come take a limited peak of the Midnight Garden and our aged stripe beads at Bead and Button, booth 1109, next week or can see some postings at my facebook page. . Hope to see you soon!

Friday, May 4, 2012

International Bead Espionage

Hello Bead Friends Worldwide, Its amazing how the push of a button on your keyboard has change how we are all connected by our favorite muse: BEADS. Although, the sty-lings around the world are diverse the common bonds or beads are similar. I imagine many beaders sitting back in their comfy zone or couch or chair working intently at their art. I see many beaders around the world loving the NEW Tila, Twin, superduo beads, as well as many classic materials. Kudos to Steven Weiss of Beadsmith fame for work for the Facebook competition: Battle of the Beadsmith. This is a International bead competition celebrating bead work from over 60 countries with 80 participants. Although it is a competition with a discerning group of judges, it is more a celebration of what we all share. That being said my eyes have been scouring the internet and have noticed how our new spike beads, has reached and flourished across the Atlantic: Kerrie Slade
Kerrie, has been "spiking up" her "Midnight Garden" with the Czech glass spikes. Her garden is based on a discipline use of using one color Black Diamond AB seed beads but has allowed her imagination to work on shapes and textures she may never have attempted. Kerrie is from Nottinghamshire UK, the home of Robin Hood lore. She has "stolen" or secured her own place in the forest, with out any use for green tones, and made the spike feminine yet strong with her Thorn Flower Pattern. Spikes can be obtained in the UK at Stichcraft, her garden lore as spread to Germany where spikes are available at seerperlen .I feel a little bit like Robin Hood myself now, so email me at and will try to share your experiences with the spike beads. Perry

Monday, February 20, 2012

Spike it!

Football season is over. My Giants won!-- I realized in Tucson, not such big news in the Bead n Design world, though we appreciated the support at the Cantina. Well time to mention our new Czech beading shape --"The Spike". Like in sports, there is always a little controversy when something new arrives. Did we invent the spike? Were we the first? Like in sports, seems so trivial to give credit to just one person or moment. It is always a team effort, intentionally or not.

I first saw a spike bead, in Laura McCabe's beadwork.: . My first reaction to her work, was like many, admiring her individuality. What seems so simple is really complex. She just adds so many textures that you lose track of the components being used. Showed a picture of Laura's work to my Czech friend, Jaromir Masek, and asked: Could you create a pressed shape like this? Frankly he said,"No" , the glass would break too easily with the off center hole at the base. Jaromir, also does not like the word: "No".

Time passed, the bead economy was struggling along on both sides of the atlantic. I had a conversation with a another amazing bead artist, Maggie Roschyk. Maggie is an author, designer and just has a restless spirit. She also loves Czech beads. She happened to mention "The Spike", and said it could be used in "so many ways". I mentioned i explored the idea, but there were technical difficulties. Forget that she said, with "Basketball Wives", Laura's work and the trend in fashion toward "street" wear, would it be skulls or steampunk like stuff, people want this: Get it!

Well, we got a Czech Glass or Bohemian glass spike bead, 7mm at the base and 17mm long, with other sizes (5x8mm and 12x18mm) in the works. Mr Masek says that these can be considered handmade. They are not pressed like round beads in a very automated fashion. They are hand pressed, and the base bead shape has to be extracted manually from the mold. They are different than Laura's spikes which are "stone points" or cabochons. They have a hole at the base and are lighter which adds to their versatility. Maggie's "fiery" Unicorn ring is ready for unveiling and will be taught at our NYC location March 23rd. I cannot wait to see what Laura comes up with next, spike or no spike.

Its a great time to be a consumer in the bead business or beading marketplace. The many brands of seed beads and crystals and other stuff just put choice at the forefront. Creating from a palette of materials so great must be inspiring to the artist. Even with a more obscure product like a spike, the more materials, sizes and colors is only gonna expand the applications. I am sure Steve Jobs and Bill Gates went through something like this, and there was no personal computers in Prehistoric days, but we know cavemen did play with spikes :-)


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Always listen to your teachers!

Its been quite a year. Be it family, economy , or sports, regardless, beads- our passion and all that they bring us- remain intact. We at have downsized our space but are passion remains, and our sense of creativity and exploration are enhanced. This journey has stemmed from a deep history we have had in the bead industry, but has been challenged by, something we all have in common, the internet and this thing called social networking.

We all learned our social habits differently. Influence from parents, siblings, friends are very common. I am sure many of us have been influenced by probably the most under appreciated people in our lives, our teachers. Since I graduated, they are probably the last people I wanted to see or think about. Why? No more homework, no more deadlines and no more expectations!! That was just me.

Then I entered the working world: The bead business. Sounds pretty cool. Laid- back, all types of interesting people. Its beads -they are fun. Nonetheless, beads are big business, manufactured by sizable factories with its output used by jewelers and crafters all over the world. Add the internet and social network and you have a fairly intricate supply chain for a very eclectic set of individuals: manufactures, retailers, artists, crafters consumers and oh! teachers.

I have alway done business with bead teachers but am astounded by how closely so the last five or six years. I am going to Tucson shortly where i meet many. I am gonna have the pleasure of hosting them, more specifically Laura McCabe and Maggie Roschyk, March 22-24 at our shop. Both ladies, although Laura more prominently, have influenced bead fashion if not fashion, period. Maggie, following a teacher's instinct, a Mom's steady hand, and an artist's sense or exploration, is developing a new career. It's amazing how much that have inspired me, if not by instruction, but by their instincts and taste.

That being said, there are 2 ladies, teachers, who have probably inspired me more. This is in part by proximity( they work, create and teach in NYC ), in part by their love for Czech beads, and in part by being so close to their story and development. In short, one day several years ago Bert Freed ( The mom or chicken) and Dana Freed (The daughter or egg) came into my office and simply said we are gonna show you that bead crochet will change the way you will sell or purchase Czech beads and that it will become and integral part of your future business plan of catering to the public. We always catered to the public but we spent a majority of our time servicing the likes of Miriam Haskel, Liz Claiborne and Ralph Lauren to name a few. Now bead crochet may have had its ups and downs at York, but Dana and Bert have stayed the course. They have taught bead crochet continuously, have created jewelry through their company Chicken and the Egg designs, and have raised money for the charity The Freshman 15 (please google). Today they announced their book will be available on Amazon: Bead Crochet Jewelry: An Inspired Journey Through 27 Designs.

Congratulations Bert and Dana! ... and always listen to your teachers!!