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Leaving On A Jet Plane

September 26, 2012

Currently I have two really big conventions that I do each year.  At the time that this is posted, I will (hopefully) be on a plane winging my way to my major fall convention.  I’m a bit nervous about the whole thing right now.  Partly because I’m flying American, partly because I have SUCH terrible luck with flying, and partly because this will be the first time in many, many years that I have flown with The Roll to a convention.

I used to fly to quite a few conventions throughout the year.  Over the years, I developed a system for getting enough crap to and from the convention to make vending there worth my while.  Since a good bit of my business is custom work, that “crap” means beads.  Lots, and lots of beads. (My apologies for the blurry photos, I was tired.)

Wee, stones! And Gabe’s paw.

The Roll is an 80 pocket jewelry organizer, similar to those sold by The Container Store.  I’ve gone through two plastic ones over the years, but this canvas one was passed along to me by Moose’s grandmother.  I’m not sure where it came from exactly, but it’s rather sturdy and I’m grateful to have it.  On one side is semi-precious stones, all sorted by color.  This makes it easier for me to decide which stones to bring, but also helps the customer to quickly glance over the available colors and pick out the one that works for them.  All of the beads on this side of the bag are stone, save for the sea opal beads at the top, which are the only glass on this side of the bag.  This is mostly because I use sea opal as a base bead quite a lot.  And hematite.  Lots, and lots of hematite.  I have a bad habit of picking up any blues and greens that catch my eye, so I start at either end of the bag and work my way towards the middle.

Glass and Pearls and Findings, Oh My!

The other side of the bag holds glass and pearl beads, plus centerpieces and findings.  All of the pearls are man-made, so while they’re slightly more expensive than some beads, they’re not as expensive as real pearls.  They are, however, considerably more durable than plain painted pearls.  I try to aim for “inexpensive alternative” as opposed to “cheap crap.”  The center pieces are mostly stone, with some selected glass pieces.  At the bottom, clasps in copper, gold colored, and silver.  Ear wires and posts in surgical steel, as well as a small selection of wires and threads in sterling, for those who are sensitive.  Lastly, some headpins and other important findings that no good jeweler should be without.

My name is Squirrel, and I’m a beadaholic.

Even after filling that whole bag, there are still more beads that didn’t make the cut.  Each of those sandwich size bags contains a number of smaller bags, mostly 2″x3″ recloseable bags scrounged from past orders.  They are sorted by color, in a very general “I can never remember if I put Red Tigerseye under red or brown” sort of way.  A lot of what is left in those bags is stone chips, leftovers from the days when I used mostly chip strands instead of round stones.  I stopped using them because I found that I spent more time trying to sort out stones of similar sizes than I did actually making the product.  Now if I’m looking for a rougher look, I stick to tumbled pebbles.  Other bags are larger, with about half the stones poured into a smaller bag that got packed.  And the rest is “Why the fuck do I have six different types of light green semi-transparent 6 mm round beads?”

In the back is the boxes where I keep the pearls, glass, centerpieces, and findings.  Those are also sorted by color.  I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I need to get one more of the larger boxes, spread out the stuff in the smaller centerpieces box, and give the pearls and glass each their own box.  Not because they don’t fit, but because they are all a bunch of tiny bags all crammed together and I can’t find a damn thing.  Spreading them out would let me see all of my colors at a glance and reduce the amount of time I spend trying to find the greenish grey pearls in the mass of blueish grey and purpleish grey pearls.

Wire, wire, everywhere.

One of the major things that has shifted over the years has been the sort of wire I use.  Sometimes, not by choice.  Those four spools under the box are all that is left of my 22 gauge Colourcraft wire.  When Beadalon switched to the Artistic Wire brand, I found that the colors weren’t quite as true and didn’t hold up under long term wear.  Although looking over some of the more recent reviews that may have changed, so I will probably pick up a spool or two to see how it holds up.  Below that is some brand I picked up at some craft store just to see how it would do.  I like how the colored wires have lasted, but sadly the coating scratches very easily and it’s hard to know when the silver needs to be snipped off and started over.  I love the piece I made with it, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable selling it.  I will probably just make a similar one in a different silver wire.  The spools in the box are mostly Zebrawire, which I have been *mostly* happy with over the years.  Every now and then they have to switch up their formula due to some fluctuation in the metals market and it rarely turns out well.  On the plus side I now have some fabulously shiny new colors to play with, so I’m excited about that.  All the other stuff is either wire I picked up on the cheap or stuff I am trying out on other projects.  Not shown: My sterling silver wire.

It may not be completely tamper proof, but it’s at least damned hard.

This is how The Roll winds up.  I put the stone beads on the outside so that the pearls don’t confuse someone into thinking that there’s something worth stealing in there.  I mean, sure, you could probably get 20 bucks or so for the sterling silver findings if it was all melted down, but I have my doubts about how well a mass of stolen beads would do on the black market, y’know?  The clear packaging serves two purposes.  It shows what is inside The Roll without someone having to undo the packaging.  It is my fondest hope that someone takes a good look at that bag and decides that it is not worth the risk of spilling out thousands of 6 mm round beads.  The other purpose is that The Roll is sealed with a full layer of packing tape.  The wire is similarly packaged.  The one and only time I ever had anything stolen was when I got lazy about using new bags every time.  It’s pretty clear that whoever swiped the necklaces ripped open a hastily sealed bag and just grabbed whatever looked most expensive.  I am not so naive as to think that a punch of packing tape will deter a truly determined thief.  But I figure that thieves are looking for something small and easy to pocket, not a 20 pound roll of rocks.

That theft, incidentally, is why all of the finished product gets carried onto the plane with me.  While it would suck having to replace all of those beads, they are essentially just beads.  The finished products would be harder to replace and it sucked discovering that the airline didn’t give a damn because the products were essentially without value since they don’t have a receipt.  Ah well.  Live, learn, pray security lets me through with all this crap.  Wish me luck!

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