Monday, August 17, 2009

New York's Bead District

Dateline: New York, 7/16/09 - 7/28/09

The area around Sixth Avenue in the upper 30's in Manhattan could be called the Bead District, although it's really part of the Garment District. On Sixth Avenue between 36th and 39th, and on 37th between Fifth and Sixth, it seems as if almost every store sells beads. These stores have an overwhelming inventory. A lot of them are wholesalers, but most also sell to individual customers like me. I spent parts of two days exploring these stores, and below are my favorites.

Fun2Bead has its own line of reasonably priced crystals, in addition to selling Swarovski and lots of other products. Personally, I can't see a difference between their crystals and Swarovski's, except that Fun2Bead's range of colors is smaller, and they don't have the beautiful AB (Aurora Borealis) finishes. Mary Beth and I each bought a lot of crystal bicones in a variety of colors.

I didn't actually buy anything at M&J Trimming, but I was fascinated by browsing there. They have some beads, and an incredible inventory of sequins, ribbons, rhinestones, etc. I imagine that this store is frequented by fashion designers and people creating costumes for Broadway shows.

Margola is a big importer of Czech beads. They were discontinuing a line of Czech pearls, and were selling them at half of their already-low prices. I bought a bunch, and then a few days later went back and bought a second bunch, knowing that my beading friends would be happy to take some of them off my hands. I still have enough pearls left for a lifetime of beading.

Mary Beth and I also took a trip to Bergenfield, New Jersey to visit Beads By Blanche, which is a fantastic store for beadweavers like us. The store is small but well organized, and has lots of seed beads and crystals. It was there that I finally started buying rivolis, round crystal stones without holes. My friends in the South Bay Bead Arts Guild love to use rivolis, which they incorporate into jewelry by bezeling, using seed beads to surround and "capture" the stone. I've resisted the rivoli craze until recently, and now I'm addicted. I bought Laura McCabe's book about using rivolis and I'm making earrings with them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Celebrating 35/60/65

Dateline: New York, 7/18/09

In August, 1974, two important events happened. President Nixon resigned. And two weeks later, Jim and I got married. Not that there's any relationship between the two events. But I always think of them together.

I had turned 25 a month before our wedding, and Jim turned 30 a month after. So every 5 years we've had 3 milestone events, with our ages and the number of years of our marriage all divisible by 5. Every time this has happened we've talked about having a party. This is the year we actually did it. I turned 60 on July 17, Jim will be 65 on September 27, and our 35th anniversary is on August 23.

We had the party in New York because a lot of my family is there. We also invited a few east coast friends. 21 of us gathered at Gramercy Tavern for lunch on July 18. We had never been to the restaurant before, but we knew it would be good because it's one of a group of restaurants owned by chef Danny Meyer, and our meals at his other restaurants have been wonderful. The restaurant didn't disappoint us. The food was excellent, the service impeccable, and the private dining room beautiful. My cousin Jeffrey was the toastmaster, and a few other guests, including my mother, made very nice speeches.

After the party we walked back to our temporary apartment in the Village, accompanied by some of the guests who had come from out of town for the occasion. We ended the day with a walk on the High Line, a new city park built on an old elevated rail line. It's a very nice walk, with beautiful plantings, chairs to sit in, and great views.

Now, how can we top this in 5 years, when it's time for 40/65/70?

(Many thanks to Mary Beth, my sister-in-law, for taking beautiful pictures at the party. The 3 non-wedding pictures are: My mother (right) with her sister, my aunt Roz; me with my friend Joan, from Hunter College High School class of '67, and her husband Jeff; and Jim (middle) with Helene and my cousin Jeffrey.)