So far, we’ve talked a little about us, our fondness for strange colour combinations, and K’s special love for seed beads. But we’ve not touched upon possibly the most important thing of all – sourcing your beads! I’ve been collecting beads for years now, and it’s one of my biggest thrills to travel to a new city and find hidden gems in unlooked-for places. Till date, some of my favourite beads were found in a market stall in Singapore, a roadside vendor in Pondicherry and at a flea market in Rome.
K already mentioned that I’d lived for a while in Zurich. Living in Zurich, on a PhD student’s salary, is actually quite doable, provided you don’t have expensive vices. As for me, I managed just fine until I discovered a little store called House of Beads, and after that, I was sunk! This was just after the Rome trip, and a birthday, when my friends gleefully fed the flames of my beading habit with a beautiful book on beaded necklaces. What’s a girl to do, when confronted with so much colour, dancing just out of reach? Search for bead stores in the vicinity, that’s what!
House of Beads is on a little footpath, off the main road. For those who really want to know exactly how to get there, you take a tram (6,7, 10 or 15) and get off at a stop called Haldenegg. The Zurich public transport website will be able to guide you far better than I can! The trick is really in what you do after you get off the tram. You need to look for a little set of steps leading down to the main road. This road is called Weinbergfussweg. If you’re walking down the steps, you can’t miss it on your left. If you’re not suffering from colour-blindess, the displays will dazzle you.
Once you push the door open, there’s a happy little chime that immediately makes you feel welcome. The staff are friendly and helpful, and I’ve spent hours in this store, easily! There are also a few tables, and some tools, so you can choose your beads, make your piece, and leave the store wearing it! You can also ask the staff to make your piece for you, for a fee. My German was not very good, and though the staff’s English was only a bit better, we managed to communicate just fine. I ran into the proprietress on my last day in Zurich, as I was waiting for the tram to the airport, and we bade each other a sad farewell. I love the way common interests draw otherwise completely different people together!
Philosophy aside, I’d like to show you some pictures of the store. Just look at them, and tell me you don’t feel like wandering around for a nice long while!
The best thing about the store? I can’t pick just one. I’d have to say the sheer variety, the extremely easy-to-follow organisation scheme and the wonderful people. And more than the beads, the fascinating array of connectors, and charms and pendants is beyond imagination. In my opinion, more than just beads, it’s these little things that really make a piece of handmade jewellery pop. The stuff in this store will add oodles of pizzazz to anything!
The worst thing about the store? How quickly your monthly salary flies through your fingers! Seriously, unless you plan to sell your pieces, this store (and possibly any store in Zurich!) might be too expensive for a casual hobbyist. Although, in all honesty, that didn’t deter me at all!
I made a lot of pieces with beads and findings from this store, and I loved every single one! I’ve not yet found another store that gives me this kind of range, both in terms of colour and material.
Of all the pieces I made, though, only one took about a month of evenings, and ate up all my “fun” money for twice that time! This was a 1.5m lariat made with a twist-stitch, and it is my pride and joy! Maybe I’ll tell you all about it later, but for now, take a look at the piece, and if you’re ever in Zurich, do go and bask in the awesomeness that is House of Beads!
(All pictures of the store are from their website: http://www.beads.ch/ All jewellery pictured here was made by me.)