On Crafts, and Playing the Bugle Badly

Okay, 3mm bugle beads are very very annoying.

Ahem. This may take a bit more explanation….

Normally I work with 12 mm bugle beads. Specifically 12x2mm, and I do prefer Miyuki ones. They have a fairly large hole, they’re big enough to get a good grip on, and they tend to have smooth edges on the holes. Not all bugle beads do, and it’s always wise to check, because they will fray your beading thread quicker than you can say “buzzsaw”.

Buuuut they also tend to come in limited colors. Silver, two kinds of gold, a few of the primary colors. If you’re looking for some in-between shades like sea-green, you’re out of luck. Which limits the kinds of projects you can do.

So I’ve always kept an eye out for stray colors of bugles when I get beads, and a couple years back I did find some sea-green ones… in 3mm.

I got them anyway, as part of a much larger order. Because I am a sucker for blue-greens. So there.

The other day I dug them out along with some odd bead colors I was trying to arrange, figured out what I thought was a good combo, and tried to use them.

It is, indeed, a lovely combination. I think it reminds me of marsh colors, iris and dragonflies, with the row of doubled bugles giving an effect like cattails or bamboo.

It is one of the most frustrating earrings I have ever made. I had to take apart the first attempt about three-quarters of the way through and start from scratch. (The thread frayed, and all attempts to fix or splice in new thread just made things worse.)

The main problem is, these bugles are not just shorter than 12mm Miyuki, they are thinner. And that has a multitude of knock-on effects. Thread passes are harder, and this form of earring needs multiple thread passes to come out right. The bugles also aren’t as regular on the edges as Miyuki – they’re not flat across – which meant fiddling with each new pair of bugles to get the double row to form into a stable foundation row was a headache all by itself. And because they are thinner, it’s trickier to snug a dangle of wider beads up to them, meaning at one point I ended up with visible thread because I hadn’t drawn the dangle tight enough.

That, at least is fixable if I’m careful and the original thread hasn’t frayed. I tie in a new thread, carefully work my way down that set of bugles and dangle, restring the whole thing in place, tighten it up, and work the new thread back in so I can tie it off. Aaaaugh.

But the earring is made. And I’m going to try to make a match to it so I can sell the pair.

Then, I think, I will try to find other ways to use the rest of that size of bugles!


20 thoughts on “On Crafts, and Playing the Bugle Badly

  1. It is another thing to consider.

    Your isekai protagonist might have some craft skill, but it depends on having the right tools and consistent materials.

    They might go to a local craftsman and ask “how do you handle this?” and the answer is “we make a custom piece for that specific case.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Heck, the idea of trying to make things consistent, so you can get the second step (and so on) done faster and better, is probably the biggest “technology skill” that you’re going to get.

      It requires figuring out what is Good Enough for Most Cases.

      Once you have that, you can get GOOD results from mediocre craftsmen; look, a mechanic on a Bentley, I think that fancy UK car is called? That guy is a master craftsman, based on the evidence of being able to make the blasted things function.
      The guy who works on old Internationals is probably as hobbyist, and only basically skilled… but his is going to keep running, and some other guy can come in and make it run, too.

      They’re two totally different philosophies of How To Make Stuff Work.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. This actually seems to be one of the reasons Korea stuck with matchlocks so long. All the examples of flintlocks/wheellocks they could get access to were master-craftsman level work AND that level of “finicky”.

        So they stuck with what worked.

        Of course, in the Colors ‘verse, another reason they stuck with it was the ease of putting Useful Monster-Affecting Stuff into the match….

        Liked by 4 people

      1. Well…. that depends. There were molds for all sorts of things, fairly early. Pottery, metal. And there were doohickeys early on for drawing wire uniformly, because they did all those tiny tiny wires for jewelry decoration.

        The Romans had lots of manufactories for uniform pottery tiles and decorative tiles, not to mention uniform pottery. Amphorae were a fairly uniform size and shape, because of how they were loaded into ships, and because there was a lot of reuse until they broke.

        But if it was cheap and uniform-ish, it’s more likely to be found smashed and in a rubbish heap.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. @suburbanbanshee

        It sounds like a variant of the “smaller and prettier” effect. Things that are “normal sized” or made for “utility” tend to get used until they break because people really needed to use them. Things made for a decorative purpose or in non-standard sizes tend to last longer because they’re not used as much.

        You see this kind of thing with historical clothing. The smaller and more decorative it is, the better the odds it *lasts* until the present day because it wasn’t worn often… and didn’t wear out as a consequence. Cue people thinking that people were much smaller back then because that was what *survived*.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. “Cue people thinking that people were much smaller back then because that was what *survived*.”

        Or, y’know, mistaking a dressmaker’s sample for a wearable garment…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Christening dresses were passed around families and down through the generations because they were only worn for a couple of hours per child. Also most Christening gowns were made to fit a 7- 10 lb child assuming infant baptism so it would fit all the siblings or all the cousins.


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