Wed, Apr 29, 2009 - Page 13 News List

Baubles, bangles and beads – many, many beads

Taipei’s do-it-yourself district is a one-stop treasure trove for jewelry makers and beaders

By Catherine Shu  /  STAFF REPORTER

THE MOTHER LODE

The next stop is Mama Bear (小熊媽媽) at 51, Yanping N Rd Sec 1 (延平北路一段51), tel: (02) 2550-8899. No article about DIY stores in the city is complete without a reference to this behemoth, which caters to almost every craft that does not require a blowtorch. Mama Bear’s jewelry-making section is large, but mainly targets fans of trendy jewelry made from chunky metal chains and whimsical plastic beads. More unique items include a large selection of die-cut metal charms, which come in the shape of medallions, hearts and leaves and look like airy lace doilies (NT$50 per pair), round bells in different sizes and sorbet colors (NT$30 per pack) and huge spools of plastic beads to make beaded curtains from (NT$600 to NT$700 each).

The shop stocks a large selection of yarn in both natural and synthetic fibers and knitting needles. Like many knitting stores in Taiwan, Mama Bear’s yarn is stowed away in cellophane bags to protect against over-handling and humidity, and you have to ask staff members to unwrap them if you want to feel yarn and purchase skeins. The store is crowded on weekends, so come on weekdays to avoid a lengthy wait for service.

Located between Mama Bear and Changan West Road, Lien I (連儀飾品有限公司) at 77, Yanping N Rd Sec 1 (延平北路一段77號), tel: (02) 2558-7831, was depressingly empty on a recent Saturday, perhaps because the store does not carry any beads. Instead, Lien I is stuffed with a stunning assortment of base metal and sterling silver charms, which line the shop’s walls and are stacked in glass-fronted cabinets. Ever wondered where you could pick up filigree clasps and buckles, or charms in the shape of snails, giraffes, keys, gardening supplies, flowers or different zodiac signs? Lien I has all of these, and much, much more.

CHARMS AND CHAINS

The first DIY shop on the corner of Yanping North and Changan West roads, East Beauty (東美飾品材料行) at 235 Changan W Rd (長安西路235號), tel: (02) 2558-8437, carries many of the same plastic and glass beads, crystals and tools as other shops in the neighborhood, but is better organized and more spacious. The two-story shop also has a larger selection of sterling silver findings, charms and chains (NT$320 or less for 46cm) than most of its neighboring competitors.

Two stores on Changan West Road specialize in crystal iron-on transfers. The first, Pomp Accessories (阿嚕咪轉燙DIY) at 247 Changan W Rd (長安西路247號), tel: (02) 2559-2257, specializes in colorful, ready-to-buy designs, many of which have a rock influence, including a large, tattoo-style skull for NT$1,800. The second, Ching Hua (晶鏵流行服飾材料) at 257 Changan W Rd (長安西路257號), tel: (02) 2552-7922, makes very chic grayscale designs. You can put in a custom order and turn your favorite black-and-white portrait into a blingy T-shirt transfer. A ready-to-use portrait of Charlie Chaplin was available for NT$460.

Miss Beads (珠兒小姐服飾材料有限公司) at 271 Changan W Rd (長安西路271號), tel: (02) 2559-6970, is probably the prettiest store in the DIY district. Two large walls of ribbon spools, which hang against the store’s plate glass windows and lure in pedestrians, dominate its warmly lit interior. Almost every kind of ribbon is represented: ombre, grosgrain, polka-dotted, lace, embroidered, appliqued. The store also sells colorful Fimo clay beads, plastic beads that are made to resemble ceramic beads, Venetian glass pendants and silk flowers.

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