The Lone Beader is now back in Boston, MA – safe and sound. I really missed everyone, and I enjoyed reading all your comments. It was a long three weeks, but it sure went by quickly! I spent the first two weeks of my holiday in Prague, Czech Republic, and I made a quick stop in London, England on the way home. Prague is a beautiful city – probably the most mystical I’ve seen thus far, and its history is dark and intriguing. I can’t wait to share with you all of my photos… My main reason for traveling to the Czech Republic was to learn a little more about the making of glass beads, as well as to search for some to bring home. After a few days of general sightseeing, I went out to search for beads.
Above is a photo of the first shop I found located on Ujezd in Mala Strana. This shop sells a few lampworked beads, as well as seed beads, but it is really a beaded jewelry store. I enjoyed looking around here, but it really wasn’t what I was looking for…
The next day, I took a bus trip to Jablonec nad Nisou in the Northern Bohemia. The north country is known for its rich history of the production of glass beads, and there is a wonderful Muzeum of Glass & Jewellery (Muzeum Skla a Bizuterie) in this old industrial town. It explains the history of glass making in the area, and it points out how many factories there were all over the country. Tools of the trade are on display, as well as fine examples of beadwork in several different cultures of the world. The 90-minute bus ride is well worth the trip, but I suggest to anyone interested in going to brush up on your Czech. Most folks in Northern Bohemia do not speak English. I did learn quite a few Czech survival phrases before I went, so I didn’t have any problem communicating. And, the people I met here were very friendly and happy to meet an American visitor! :)
Around the corner from the museum is a Jablonex jewelry store. The jewelry sold here is beautiful and simple. I was also happy to see that they sold some loose beads in small packages. You can see the prices in the above photo – 49 & 59 crowns. The Czech Republic has not adopted the Euro, nor do they intend to anytime soon. 100, Kc is equal to approx. $6 USD.
Then, I visited the above bead shop. I would not have found this one if it weren’t for the friendly German girl who worked at the muzeum. This shop is in an old house across the main road from the Glass & Jewellery museum. It is a ‘components’ store, and the bags on the floor and on the shelves are full of components to make your own jewelry. The paper bags contain seed beads in almost every colour you can imagine. Shoppers scoop their own beads into small bags, and they are sold by weight.
The woman at this shop was more than happy to help me despite the language barrier. She wrote down prices on a piece of paper for me to consider. So, I picked out the beads below. Some are colours for an upcoming project. Again, you can see some of the prices. I spent about 800, Kc here (less than $50) for a substantial amount of beads. After finding this shop, I was very happy to have made the trip to Jablonec n.N… :D
While I did find seed beads in the north country, I found bead shops difficult to find in the city of Prague. It sounds odd because the city is full of jewelry and art glass shops. I believe that glass bead production and distrubution in the Czech Republic still remains a very hidden industry. I learned that many years ago, the main company making glass beads in the area split into two, and as a result, many of the factory workers took their skills and began working from home. I believe these small factories are selling directly to those who make the jewelry for all the shops, or they sell their beads directly to much larger distributors who deal with companies all over the world. If you go to Prague looking for beads, don’t get discouraged. You simply have to keep your eyes open, and peek into every shop. Loose beads are hidden, but they are there.
The above shop is the perfect example of this. To the unsuspecting American who cannot read Czech, it looks like any old shop. I took a wrong turn while looking for the Dvorak Museum, and I noticed some art supplies in this shop’s window. There were paint brushes, paints, and canvases, so I took a peek inside. There, I noticed a woman making some beaded jewelry – next to a whole table full of beautiful beads!
She must be making some jewelry for this display! :D
I spent awhile looking around, then I finally picked the following beads. Most of them were only about $1/bag, then when I looked at my receipt, I noticed that they were on sale! 20% off the sticker price! I was very happy about this shop… Now, I will have to think of ways to incorporated some of these into my beadwork… :D
I hope my discoveries inspire you to someday travel to the Czech Republic in search of beads. However, if you still need some more convincing, just wait until my next post… :D