Amethyst, Lampwork, Bead Boards & Bead Storage

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Amethyst - February's Gemstone
The Magic of Lampwork
Bead Design Boards
How to Store Beads
15% Off Offer

Amethyst: The Royal Purple Pope Stone
Amethyst is the Birthstone for February, the purple variety of quartz. If it was not so widespread, amethyst would be very expensive. Its name comes from the Greek, meaning "not drunken". Perhaps due to a belief that amethyst would sober the effects of alcohol, or maybe referring to its wine-like color. Although amethyst is always purple, it comes in shades of pale lilac to deep purple. Deeper colors are more valuable, "milky" amethyst is the cheapest.

According to Greek mythology, Dionysius, the god of intoxication, was angered by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal that crossed his path, creating fierce tigers to carry out his wish. Along came unsuspecting Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Diana turned Amethyst into a stature of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god's tears stained the quartz purple, creating the gem we know today.

Purple has long been considered a royal color, featured in the British Crown Jewels and a favorite of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst could dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence. Because amethyst was believed to encourage celibacy and symbolize piety, it was very important in the ornamentation of Catholic and other churches in the Middle Ages. Amethyst is still the stone of bishops who often wear amethyst rings. Even in Tibet, amethyst is considered to be sacred to the Buddha.

Healers and New Agers believe certain gemstones heal on a metaphysical level, because of the earth's energy that has been absorbed by these stones. Amethyst is considered to have healing powers of purifying and pacifying - with the ability to transform lower energies into higher, healing at all levels of mind, body and spirit. Amethyst's sobering and calming qualities associate it with peace. It is known to calm those with constant rigorous mental activity. Called "nature's tranquilizer", because it also relaxes the whole nervous system. Amethyst reduces negativity and brings mental strength, stability, and vigor. Plus understanding to all that is transitional, especially death and rebirth, providing peace of mind when a loved one is lost. As an elixir, amethyst can help toothache, bone and joint discomforts and problems with the stomach and digestive tract. It has also been known to treat various types of blood disease and balancing blood sugar.

In yoga, amethyst aids the 6th Chakra, the Third Eye, center of the body's spiritual power. Because amethyst heightens awareness, both spiritual and psychic - increasing intuition and psychic development and transition from a normal state of consciousness to a deeper awareness.

Amethyst is mined in South American and African countries. African is the best, but mined in smaller sizes. Very dark amethyst, mostly in small sizes, is also mined in Australia.

History of Lampwork Beading
The "lamp" in lampwork came from the oil lamps and blowpipes used in seventeenth century France and Italy. Blowing by mouth or bellows into an oil lamp flame with a small pipe makes just enough heat to soften and form this type of glass. It's amazing the great work the early lampworkers were able to do with so little equipment. Hot glassworking skills originated from the Syrians around 1700 BC, the Egyptians 1450 BC, the Chinese around 550 BC, the Romans at the turn of the first millennium. Today lampworkers usually use an oxygen torch, but the technique to form and decorate the glass hasn't changed much for thousands of years.

Choosing Lampwork Beads
As usual with handcrafted items, the quality is equal to the expertise of its maker. Choose beaded jewelry in a style you like, but remember that style isn't the only thing you must consider when buying handcrafted glass beads. Air bubbles should not normally be visible in the bead & although some beadmakers use these as design elements, but they are normally round or positioned in specific areas. The bead hole should be free of nicks or burrs. Jagged edges around the hole produce a wobbly bead that can eventually cut through beading wire. Check that the shapes of beads. They're handcrafted, so expect some variations, that's part of their charm, but the overall look should be attractive.

How are Lampwork Beads actually Make?
Lampworkers use a torch to melt the tips of glass rods, and then wind the molten glass around a mandrel, a narrow stainless steel rod. Later, when the bead is removed, the space occupied by the mandrel becomes the hole used to string the bead. Glass cools from the outside in and the outer layers shrink as they cool. Bringing a bead out of the flame and leaving it in the open air allows the outside of the bead to cool rapidly around its molten interior. However, a stress point develops between the cool shrinking glass and the hot center, which can cause a bead to crack immediately or at a later time. To prevent cracks, the beads are soaked in a kiln to make sure that all glass within them is the same temperature. After soaking the artist reduces the kiln's heat over several hours to bring the beads to room temperature.

Bead Design Boards
A bead board can be a beaders' best friend. Allowing you to try different designs before you need to actually string the beads - so saving a lot of time and inconvenience of unstringing a bad design.

There are a few different types of bead boards, but all have at least one long groove around the board where you prepare your beads. At the side of this groove are numbers represents an inch and markings for half-an-inch. This helps you measure the final length of your necklace. In the center of most boards are small compartments to store beads as you work.

To make a necklace you need to determine where you want to place your beads in the design. If you already have a pattern to follow, great, just go ahead and put them in the correct order on the board. However, if you are not sure what pattern you plan to string yet, rearrange the beads until you find a design that you like.

Then string all the beads and spacers together, leaving extra cord for the clasp. Next lay the stung design on the board so you can check its desired length. After this, remove the piece from the bead board and finish it off attaching a crimp bead or a bead tip

Our gray-flocked plastic bead board pictured, has three channels for laying out beads for single or multiple strand jewelry, and seven compartments to store the beads while you're working. Overall size: 16 x 9 inches. Just US$12 - to buy click here

How to Store Beads
Eventually every beader is faced with the dilemma of how to store their beads. Everyone has their own way depending on quantity and availability. Some beaders use a fishing tackle box, plastic shoe boxes, wood or plastic utensil trays from Walmart & others, clear sliding drawers designed for nuts and bolts, plastic pencil cases, or plastic drawer storage bins. All these compartments are the ideal size for storing beads, findings, and tools. Sturdy and portable, they allow you see project options at a glance.

Inside these draws you need to separate different types and sizes of beads. For loose beads, tubes are good with a label or photo around. Zippy or sealable plastic bags are great for strands - plus they have the advantage of a large opening to get a scoop or counter inside to retrieve loose beads. These bags can be brought from freezer and stationary stores. If you store your beads in little draws you may still need to put them in plastic bags too - in case the whole cabinet gets accidentally kicked over!

However, as your collection grows you will need a more and more containers. We use plastic draws that are stacked together and labeled on the front with a photograph and a description of the beads inside. Transparent or partly-transparent draws are good for seeing what's inside. Another way is to build narrow shelves for baby food jars. You can even screw the top of the lid to the top of the shelf so they always go back neatly. For small loose beads you can use 35mm film containers, candy tins, aspirin bottles, and paint cans for larger beads.

One beader has eight spice racks that turn, brought at yard sales for $2 each. Plus 16 glass jars with lids for her seed beads. Each jar has several shades of the same color. She just turns the rack to find the color she's looking for and the type of bead. Another beader uses Tic Tac containers when she travels. They are small enough for all the different colors she needs and they never spill. She also stores beads in margarine containers because they are flat and she can pile them on top of one another. Other people use empty travel-size baby-wipe containers to transport their beads. These are lightweight, the right depth to hold tubes of beads, and they fit easily into a purse. With a little imagination, you will find many every-day containers ideal for beads. to top

To go to all or amethyst beads click here
To go to our lampwork beads click here
For our Bead Board click here
Many new beads this month, see here
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Special 15% Offer!
Sample our beads with 15% off any order from our MrBead bead store, just key in "board" at the checkout (without the inverted commas) and click "Redeem Coupon".

Offer valid until 6th February only - so act now! Only for use in our store at the checkout and not valid with any other offers.

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