Once upon a time, I would only consider glass or gemstone beads for my work. Sometime late last year my opinion changed. Maybe its the weight of pieces or maybe it's the selection of beads in fantastic yummy colors, but I find I've changed my mind and now will consider a wider range of materials in my stash of beads.
The first material that I found was vintage Lucite - it sure isn't your kid's plastic beads! The detail is amazing. Combine that with a translucent quality in some of the items, add great subtle coloring and you have a medium that I fell in love with. I've been buying old earrings and necklaces for some of my stock and the rest comes from Beadin' Path up in Maine. I could spend hours (& $$'s) in that store.
The first lightweight piece I did was a finger woven bracelet with Lucite flowers and leaves. I paired the flowers with 6mm faceted roundels in semi-precious stones (citrine, amethyst, tourmaline, quartz, blue topaz) and topped them with red Delicas. This bracelet weighs less than an ounce compared to five ounces in the last one I did with glass beads. I actually think it's more striking than the full glass bead bracelets. It's easy on the wrist and gets noticed when I wear it.
When I was at the Tucson shows this February I grabbed a bunch of brightly dyed wood beads - not having a clue as to what I was going to use them for. I just liked the shapes and colors and the very low price. Seems like a lot of beads just follow me home that way. Some of the the wooden beads have now found a home in my current finger woven bracelet project.
This is sort of an, "I wonder what would happen if....?" bracelet. I had a packet of colored safety pins lying around - looked at the holes at one end and had to try them in a bracelet. I added some purple Lucite rings and liked the eclectic, wire look. Next, I added a bunch of the small purple propeller-like wood beads and ...WOW! I never imagined they'd sit up like that and nestle together so nicely. OK, I'll finish the safety pin bracelet, but I can't wait to try a whole piece with the propeller wood beads. See the aqua sticks at the top of my wood bead collection? That's another, "I wonder what would happen if....? idea for a funky bracelet.
I'm having fun exploring finger weaving with lightweight materials. It all seems to fit together and works well. I guess I've come to the realization that it's not the materials, but what you do with them that is important. Glass and gemstone beads are still 90% of my collection, but I've now made room for other materials.