Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dreary Day DIY

The purple and silver necklace I made on this chilling, gray Saturday

Every time I've complained about the weather this past winter, I've thought that "well, I'm complaining now, but it's not that bad - I mean it couldn't get any worse than this, so it can only get better from here."

(I'm like that because, as I've said before, I'm an Obasan-in-Training. At barely 30 years old, I am doing a superb job of being ornery and opinionated and - dare I say it? - crotchety. I like to think it's endearing).

Right. So, I was wrong. I didn't realize it was possible for the weather to grow more dismal and dreary but somehow, it did. Clearly the God of Gray Skies (I like to think it's Chiang Kai-Shek) has decided to shed his "favor" upon us with more gloomy vigor.

And when it gets this nasty out, what else is there to do but drink good coffee and do some DIY? You can't go to a museum, because those'll be too crowded on a cold, rainy Saturday. You can go out to eat but how long can you faff about in a restaurant (quite a bit, actually, but only if you don't mind servers "subtly" swiping the broom under your feet at the point where you're staying just long enough to make it awkward).

Not really how I want to spend my Saturday, though. So we headed to George Coffee, where I've done my DIY beading before and they don't mind - I'd feel weird doing it at a lot of the places we otherwise frequent, and many of them have cats. It's fine when my cat bats a bead off the table and I can retrieve it, but a cat in a cafe flinging beads onto the floor is a new level of annoying. The folks at George as so cool about it that the bring me a spare table light so I can see what I'm doing more clearly.

As you may know if you read this blog somewhat regularly, I am totally into DIY, mostly beading and jewelrymaking (I draw, too, but that's different). I made my own wedding necklace:

Photos above and below by Keira Lemonis

...and for our musician (a good friend) and female attendants:

...including the feather-leaf corsage.

And what a good use of the day, too! In weather that would otherwise render me thoroughly unproductive (but I'm also 3/4 of the way through a longer post on vegetarianism and travel, so there's that) I managed to finish off the necklace above. I made a similar one for my friend Emily - in black, green and silver - as part of a "Pay It Forward for Creative People" Facebook challenge, and I wanted my own. So I hunkered down and made it.

The best DIY shops, by the way, are all in the vicinity of (but not necessarily on) Dihua Street. I'm planning to head back to that neighborhood soon, and when I do I'll get the true addresses of my two favorite spots for DIY beading and jewelry supplies and post them here as an update. One of them gives out a discount VIP card (a small keychain you show them) that gives you a 20% discount on most merchandise, and they have some good stuff: from truly expensive pearls and semiprecious stones to crystal to shell to glass to plastic.

The beads in the necklace above are mostly crystal and glass, but the larger ones are all real amethysts (not an expensive stone, so fairly affordable to buy real). The fixtures and findings are, of course, not real silver, but who cares.

Which actually brings me to Reason #14 to love Taiwan: cheap, accessible, generally high-quality DIY materials, especially for jewelrymaking! I bought every one of these supplies in Taiwan, from around Dihua Street, from Yongle Market (the feathers), from the Jianguo Weekend Flower Market (dried leaf skeletons), from Taipei City Mall (a few places that sell semiprecious beads) - all for a lot less than they charge for that stuff back home.

I'm curious to hear how you spend your dreary days in Taipei: we get an awful lot of them and ideas on what to do - what you do - through these depressingly gray months would surely be of help to other bored, gloomy expats in Taipei on days like this.

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