Thursday, December 18, 2008

Girl's Day Out

So I had some serious cabin fever today. Since I am doing a project for Step By Step Beads, and have a very limited amount of time to get some supplies, I decided to take a little trip to Shipwreck Beads.

I love living in Washington, because not only am I within driving distance of half a dozen glass manufacturers and dealers, I am also only a short 1 1/2 hours away from one of the largest bead stores ever. Shipwreck mostly does mail order and online sales, but they also have a storefront in Lacey. Okay, make that a......warehouse. Because's huge!

I'd never been there before today, and let me just say this: It's a damn good thing they have a little deli/cafe thingie in the middle of the store, because I needed to keep my blood sugar up and myself caffeinated for this place. I've never seen a bead store this gigantic. I literally had issues with my eyes going wiggy after about 30 minutes in there. The sheer amount of color and sparkle will most likely cause Sensory!Overload! for anyone who is a creative soul.

As for selection - it's pretty good, as you may imagine. I mean, after all, did I mention the size of the building? I was a little surprised by the total lack of selection of decent findings there - unfortunately. Most of what they had was base metal, and what they did have of good metal was really generic. But the rest of the merchandise made up for that lack.

They have an amazing amount of Czech glass beads - it seemed like that pretty much took up half the store. any size/color/finish you can imagine in Czech - it's there. I had to yank my eyes away from the gorgeous firepolished stuff after I picked out a couple things I needed.

Another quarter of the store seemed to be taken up by giant bins of bagged generic Indian glass beads - which was kind of off-putting for me. I am a glass bead snob - I don't apologize for it. :D Which brings us to the gi-normous aisle of Chinese lampwork beads....ahh well. Didn't see any artist-made lampwork, but I wasn't expecting to, since they are a high-volume online and mail order seller mostly. I usually only see the handmade stuff in smaller bead stores.

One nice thing is that they had a decent selection of both Swarovski and Preciosa brand crystal beads, in a bunch of different shapes and colors. Two whole aisles of crystals - I spent a lot of time in that section. It literally caused me pain to have to leave that area without buying a whole lot more than I did. In a store like that, you need to stay on track or you're sunk. Hence the name.

I was desperate for more Bali/Thai sterling beads, but alas, there were almost none to be found there. They did have some sterling, but it was mostly unidentifiable and pretty generic. They did have a few nice toggle clasps, but they were really expensive. Most of the sterling was - but that's no surprise in this economy.

As for gemstones - yep, they have em. Hanging all over one of the walls and taking up a couple of aisles of their own. I had to refrain, but they had some really great choices. I drooled over all of them and had to walk away. Sniff. They also had a decent selection of books, stringing materials, bead storage and tools.

That's all I can honestly remember, because it's all becoming a blur of color now that I am home with my modest purchase of $33.77. I am sure Shipwreck has way more than I have mentioned'll just have to take a trip there and check it out. Try not to have a time limit or :D

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