Thursday, September 07, 2006
The Big NY Bead Odyssey Post!
That's right, at last a post to show some of the awesome beads that I got in NY, and more details about the stores that I bought them at.
It only makes sense to start at the beginning, so first, some of my finds from a place called The Bead Market (if I'm remembering correctly. I forgot to grab their business card!). This store advertised itself as something like "Long Island's Biggest Selection" and then the sign at their actual store made a claim along the line of "The most exciting bead store in the world!" Well, they were probably slightly off base on the second claim, but arguably right on the first claim.
What was exciting about this store was their large selection of interesting vintage beads for decent prices. I also liked the fact that they had the vintage plastic seperated from the vintage glass. Without even trying too hard, I managed to get a couple coordinating sets of beads going on, which will make planning projects out really easy. Plus I managed to feed my hunger for unusual green vintage beads.
What I did not like about the store was that after making me sort all the individual beads out by price, they dumped them all together in one bag. Of course I don't remember how much each bead cost! Also, while my mother-in-law and I were able to find our way there easily with directions, the store is hidden in a industrial office type area, well off the beaten path, which has to make it hard for them to get random business.
Our next stop was Park Avenue Beads in Wantagh. I don't have any pics of the things I found there, because most of them are presents and I don't want to ruin any surprises! The owner was there, a very nice friendly lady. She impressed me even more when I saw her at the gem show that weekend and she remembered us. She carries some very nice stone beads, as well as some Czech glass, Japanese seed beads, and findings.
After that it was on to my traditional NY bead stop, Ace Handicrafts. Now, some bead stores have a bad habit of being stagnant. You go there and it's the same stuff every time. Not Ace! Every year they've made even more room for beads and have more kewl stuff that I never find anywhere else. As you can see, I had fun arranging the beads that I bought there :) Greys are supposed to be in for fall and winter this year, so I really think the rough silver abalone drops were a great buy. Also, the lovely glass faerie at the top of this post was purchased at Ace, and I found some wonderful silver toggles, which I desperately needed.
Ace also has a fun selection of various other craft items, and display and storage for jewelry and beads. The ladies who work there are unfailingly friendly and helpful, and usually bead-knowledgable, too. As an added benefit, they are across the street from the Witch's Brew cafe, which I really need to go into someday.
The other store we wanted to go to was closed that day, and we never got around to going back.
The gem show was only mildly successful. Although I did meet a friendly fellow beader there, the only decent bead selection to be had was from the aforementioned Park Ave Beads. There were other beads, but nothing that grabbed me enough to be worth the price. There were some very nice minerals to ooh and aah over, and a lot of pre-made jewelry. Lots of very neglectful booth-tenders, too. I decided not to buy from a couple of vendors after spending a long time at their booth, sometimes with items in hand, and not getting a single peep of acknowledgement. I did get some sterling charms (I don't know why, I rarely use them!).
The real find at the gem show, however, was the booth of a nice gentleman from NJ with an awesome Russian accent and equally awesome Russian stones. I purchased a beautiful seraphinite cab from him, a meteorite chunk for Chris, and a leather-wrapped pendant of a nice green mica stone that I swore I would remember the name of and have of course since forgotten.
When the weather was finally managable, we made our way into NYC in search of the bead district. Many helpful friends and net folks had pointed us in the right direction, and so we hit Sixth avenue with empty totebags and full wallets, a position which was quickly reversed.
The bead district is not strictly beads; my quarry was mixed in with trimmings and a few fabric stores. For the most part, the bead-specific stores proved to be my best bet. I wandered into one trimming store that advertised a sale on vintage beads, but I got so many creepy glares from the employees that I practically dragged my shopping companions (my husband and his mother, cheerful partners in my bead search) right back out again.
We were walking down the street, looking for beads, when I saw a fateful awning... "Toho Shoji." I just about did a swoon right there. In we went, to a store full of beaders and designers of assorted ethnicities, and beads of assorted origins. One of the first things I found was a bin of half-price Delicas. Sweet! There were a lot of other seed beads to be had, but mostly either in very small quantities or very large. Since I can get seed beads on-line any old day, I instead focused on getting some interesting pendants and findings, and getting a wholesale buyer card to use on future trips.
While there, my clever mother-in-law scouted out other bead locations for us, finding some in some sort of magazine, and even taking one address off of someone's shopping bag! Also while there, we saw a couple who ended up being in almost every other bead store we hit. Hey, it's nice to know that we weren't the only ones going from shop to shop in search of awesomeness.
Our next major stop was a heavenly place called M&J Trimming. This store has a simply overwhelming selection of buttons, ribbons, trims and accents. Nearly anything you can imagine using to embellish a garment could be purchased in great variety there. This was where I found the basket of $.98 Czech glass. Heavenly indeed! Then when I was ready to check out, Chris announced that he'd found coins for me. Hurray! Along with the coins was an awesome selection of metal sequins, but I exercised self-control and just bought a couple bags of coins.
I heartily recommend M&J not just for beaders, but for seamstresses as well! I can't wait to go back there after I learn how to sew, and pick out lots of beautiful accents for my belly dance clothes!
Our other great find in The City was New York Beads. They had a lot of very cool items there, a small selection of which is in the above picture. There would be more cool items, but somehow a couple of the nifty pendants that I'd picked out never got rung up. Well, at least both Chris and I still got our beetles set in acrylic. I'm not sure what those purple heart beads are, either milk glass or some sort of color-treated quartz I'm guessing. They were only $5 a strand, though, and with how big purple is, I'm sure I'll find a great use for them.
I also got a wholesale buyer card for New York Beads, and I think that in the future I will probably shop there more than at Toho. I found their selection to be more interesting and their prices better. Toho, however, had more unusual findings and would definitely be the place to go if you're looking for supplies for projects from Japanese beading books.
There were many other stores along the way that we went into, but none where I made any big purchases. Most of the stores had phenomenal carved stone beads with prices well beyond the means of this humble jewelry designer. In fact, my one disappointment with bead shopping in NYC was that so many of the stores had basically the same things. I went in hoping to find a trove of cool vintage beads, but instead I found store after store of the same things that I see on table after table at the gem shows. Perhaps I wandered into the wrong stores, but I really felt like Long Island was a better place for unusual beads than NYC was!
I hope you've enjoyed my incredibly long-winded report of bead shopping in NY, and that maybe I've inspired you to have a bead adventure of your own. Where possible, I've supplied the URLs of these great stores. But I also have e-mail addresses, locations, and phone #s, so if you need any more information, feel free to ask!