Friday Review: Tiger Eye Beads

 

Tiger Eye Beads
Cuba Mall, Wellington

What it is:
Wellington’s only specialist bead and jewellery making store. Stockists of all sorts of beads, findings, as well as ready made jewellery and a few other pretty items.

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The Good
Tiger Eye Beads stocks a wide variety of beading pogey bait in almost every colour of the rainbow, and all the material to put the pogey bait together into something yummy. And, if you are like me and are just no good at putting beads together in an assortment that results in gorgeous jewellery, they also have a selection of ready-made jewellery to tempt you.

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Pretty pogey bait  

In order to support your jewellery making endeavours, they have necklace trays and jewellery tools and tables so for you to work on, so you could easily spend an afternoon shopping and crafting in the store.

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Helpful staff and welcoming work-stations.  

The staff are cheerful and friendly and helpful, and will suggest things and help you look for just the right colour of something.

Not only can you craft in store, but they are child friendly, so you can take your personal dibbuns in to create a necklace as a special treat – there was a little girl their making a birthday necklace with her uncle when I went in (so cute! so envious! All my uncles did was show me their collections of frozen roadkill!). Or, if watching a kid make a necklace is too exhausting for you, just sign the dibbuns up for beading classes at the school holidays.

And, just in case you are like me and only like kids as long as they are well behaved, rest assured that I have never seen an ill-behaved out-of-control kid in TEB. The rotten ones probably get told to go outside and play in the bucket fountain.

Finally, TEB has a great website, which is always nice and helpful.  

The Bad
TEB has a rather poor selection of some surprisingly basic jewellery and beading essentials. I found when doing my Luna Moth dress that their selection of seed beads in all shades of purple is very sparse, and that they have almost no clear seed beads, which seems a terrible oversight.

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ROY G BI…..???? Where are the violets?  

I also wanted to buy a beading needle the last time I was in, and all they had were 4 inch long necklace needles, which are great if you want to string a lot of beads together, but hopeless for sewing tiny seed beads to dresses, or for making elaborate bead patterns. How can a shop be out of all but one kind of needles?!?

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Pre-made necklaces and bangles, and strings of semi-precious stones.  

Finally, they don’t have much in the way of sterling silver fixings, and have no sterling silver chain at all. Poor planning on their fault – I spent a small fortune on sterling silver chain the last time I was in the jewellery district in NYC

The Ugly
TEB is fully aware that it is Wellingtons only specialist beading and jewellery making store, and charges you a premium for the privilege of being able to walk into a store, look at a lot of beads in person, and buy only a small amount of the kind of beads you want.

On the bright side, I couldn’t find a single actual thing in the store that qualified as ugly (though that seems to be an apt description for every piece of jewellery I put together from the store!).

The Verdict
If you plan on doing huge amounts of beading or jewellery making (or are just a serial embellisher like Madame Ornata), you are probably going to need to find an online source for your beading needs. If you are like me, and only use beads occasionally, or just want to make one fun piece of jewellery, than Tigers Eye Beads is a great resource, and it is well worth your while to suck up the premium cost for the privilege of buying a small amount right when you need it.

It would be good if they beefed up their supply of beading basics though!

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Wires, strings and other bead accessories.

Friday Review: $2 shop

The US had Five and Dime shops, and now Dollar Stores, but things are a bit pricier in New Zealand, so we have the $2 Shop.

The $2 Shop sells everything for $2 (and yes, there are $2 coins in NZ), and some things are 2 for $2.

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The Good:
The $2 Shop has a bit of everything, from crafting supplies to stationary to wrapping paper to hardware to jewellery to makeup to household goods. So it’s not a bad place to look if you want something and aren’t sure where to buy it (which happened to me a lot when I first moved to NZ).

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A little bit of everything. And I DIDN’T take this picture! (see below for why)

Some of the stuff at the $2 Shop is pretty amazing in it’s own right, like gilded peacock feathers, or an amazingly good deal, like the wide array of attractive drawer pulls. Considering that drawer pulls start at $8 each at every other shop, $2 is an great bargain if you want to quickly update a dresser.

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$2 drawer pulls on a rimu dresser I refinished.

The Bad:
First, the $2 Shop won’t let you take photographs in the store. Not even for review purposes. I’m not sure what they are afraid of, it’s not like someone is going to use it to find out what they charge for stuff and beat their prices (tee hee, get it? get it?), nor are they such a juicy target for a large scale robbery that anyone would be scoping out the premises. They can’t be concerned about knock-offs of their plastic tiki souvenirs – they are already 2 for $2 so they can’t get any cheaper!

Whatever the reason, I wasn’t able to take any images in the store. Which is bad. And dumb. You should write them and tell them how bad and dumb this policy is.

The other main bads are that 1) you are buying cheap plastic crap made in China under questionable conditions 2) who knows exactly what goes into the cheap plastic crap and how much lead is in the paint and 3) the $2 Shop is a madhouse around Christmas, Halloween etc with everyone buying cheap plastic crap for the holidays.

The Ugly:
Well, unfortunately I wasn’t able to take pictures of some of the uglier items, because I sure wasn’t going to buy anything just to take a picture of it!

But rest assured that the $2 Shop has a wide variety of seriously ugly. And some not so ugly. But a lot of ugly. Some of it amusingly so.

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These are kind of ugly. And kind of cool. Whimsicle effery ugly-cool.

The Costuming:
There are all sorts of fun things that you could use for costuming in the $2 shop, from the aforementioned gilded peacock feathers, to beads and ribbons and trims and faux flowers and cheap straw and felt hats to use as bases. Some of the things they have are a bit surprising and inexplicable, and some of them change all the time.

Who knows what these little birds and birds nest were intended to be:

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I’m going to use them in 18th c hairstyles, or to trim hats. I think the owl is too cute!

And of course, there is lots of stuff that isn’t so obviously costume-y that could be used, from items in the hardware section (how many of you have ended up using lengths of chain on Elizabethan costume? Come on, fess up now!), to little figurines that could be pulled apart for jewellery.

The randomly really exciting and then totally crappy:
I found scalloped craft scissors at the $2 Shop! I’d been looking for them forever, but Spotlight stopped carrying them, and the local scrapbooking store says they are out of fashion.

I was so excited.

Yeah. The scissors are more than a little bit crap. Once opened, they don’t close. I need to pony up and order a good pair off the internet.

The verdict:
Like Spotlight, a necessary evil. More fun than Spotlight though, and a better buy for your (2) dollar.
Also, the $2 Shop has one of the worlds stickiest, and thus most irritating, jingles. My sister visited NZ over 3 years ago and can still sing it.

Friday Review: Sherlock Holmes

I’ll admit to reading the Sherlock Holmes books a number of times as a kid, though I always found the idea of a mind completely ruled by science and calculations and unswayed by emotions rather unappealing. Still, Mr Dreamy wanted to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, so off we went.

The Good:
I laughed out loud once. I don’t remember what the joke was, but it must have been good.
The men’s clothes are gorgeous. Suitably historical, but with an appealing twist that makes you want to run out and dress your guy in tweed and corduroy from head to toe. And not a plaid tweed coat in sight!
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Yummy!

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Love that wide-wale corduroy jacket!

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The Bad:
The film is clunky and awkward, lurching from one situation to the next. The final ‘solution’ to the mystery is based on the clues of a murder that Holmes could not have known anything about according to the logical and chronological flow of the film.
The whole story revolves around Holmes’ much speculated upon relationship with Irene Adler. Sadly, Rachael McAdam, much as I usually love her, is completely miscast as Adler. She is too young, too sweet, too soft and altogether implausible. There isn’t a shred of chemistry between her and Holmes.
The Ugly:
To add insult to injury, McAdam’s costumes are a million times more awful than the the men’s clothes are good. McAdam’s ensembles are satin from head to toe (satin? During the day?), ill cut, and unflattering.
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Ugh. Could they have at least ironed out the ill fitting wrinkles in photoshop?

I got the sense that the costume designer was chosen for her ability to do menswear, and wasn’t as comfortable with feminine attire, so overcompensated with shiny fabrics and frills.

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Gah! Blinding!
Unfortunately, there aren’t many pictures of McAdam’s costumes online yet. She does wear one amazing coat based on a Worth evening coat, but alas, even that is ruined because she wears it as daytime streetwear.
The Verdict:
Wait for it to come out on DVD. And hope the sequel is better.
And yes, there will be a sequel. The ending didn’t so much leave it open for one as blast away the door and most of all four walls of the ‘sequel’ room with TNT, just in case the audience couldn’t take a hint.
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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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