Here is how it came about: I was introduced to Mr. Harada, owner of Tulip Co., a needle manufacturing company, when I taught for the first time in Japan. He later sponsored the book I wrote about feltmaking for the Japanese craft market published by Patchwork Tsushin Ltd. (His company also manufactures felt needles.) When the book was published (in Japanese, translated by Motoko Natsubori) Tulip Co invited me to sign books and demonstrate needle felting in their booth at the Great International Quilt Show the next January. Then in June, fresh from the Bead & Button Show, I joined them for their first exhibit at TNNA in Columbus Ohio, to meet potential U.S.A. distributors. I developed friendships with a couple of the executive women in Mr. Harada's company. I love that women hold key roles in Tulip Co.
Tulip is known for their fine quality quilt needles. When we discussed their beading needles, they asked for input from me and a couple of Japanese beading teachers. From the Bead & Button Show hotel lobby in 2010, I corresponded with Mayumi from their product development team. Long story short... Uh, too late????... I told Tulip that we "want flexible needles that will bend but spring back to straight and are easy to thread ".
In December that year, they sent me the first needles produced in response to these specs. They are indeed flexible and springy. The eye is easy to thread. The tip is rounded slightly to slide easily into beads while preventing splitting the thread. In January 2011 I demonstrated beadwork with these new needles at the International Great Quilt Show in Tokyo. I bought up as many as I could afford before flying home that January so I could share them with U.S. Beaders. They are a comfortable length. They fit readily into size 15 seed beads. In a couple months of offering them to my students and on my website, at $5 per package of 4, I went through the supply in short order.
And so in May 2011, I received my first shipment, as the U.S.A. distributor of these fine quality beading needles, in time to introduce them to beaders worldwide at The Bead & Button Show.
Oh, and let me mention Tulip's fine beading awl. Use yours to break out the excess bead, to unbead, to tease open even the peskiest knot and of course, for precisely placed knots between beads, it is peerless.