Learn To Bead

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Watch Out! Or You’ll Catch The Bead-Bug!

Posted by learntobead on April 18, 2020

Getting Started Beading and Making Jewelry
Channeling your excitement”


As someone once told me, “I bought some beads, dumped them all out on the table, and I was hooked!”

She began making simple bracelets and necklaces, and was hooked some more.

And then she learned wire working, and made wire bezels and bails, wire clasps and ear-wires, and wire-constructed bracelets, and yes, she was hooked some more.

She sold several pieces, and now, even her husband started getting hooked.

And she learned bead weaving and some silversmithing, some polymer clay and metal clay, some kumihimo and micro-macrame, and now, not just herself and her husband, but her three children and her mother and her next-door neighbor were hooked.

She spent hours and hours organizing her beads. And organizing some more, as her beads and her ongoing projects took up more and more room in her house.

She was overwhelmed by choices. And was very hooked. And, although she kept buying up bead after bead, and learning technique after technique, and organizing workspace after workspace, she allowed very little time for “design.”

Yet, we need to give her a chance to get started. To catch her breath. To learn how to learn. To learn how to organize and work. To learn how to manage all the emotions and anxieties which come with so many choices, and so many colors, and so many parts, and so many different ways to go about making jewelry and beadwork. Before she is ready to wander that path. And bump into her Inner Designer.

What Can You Do With Beads?

A BEAD is anything that has a hole in it. And you can do a lot of things with things that have holes.

You can put these things on string.

You can sew these things onto fabric.

You can weave these things together with threads.

You can knot or braid or knit or crochet these things together.

You can combine and wrap and en-cage these things with metal wires and metal sheets.

You can work these things into projects with clay, polymer clay and metal clay.

You can embellish whatever you can think of — dolls, tapestries, clothes, shoes, scrapbooks, pillows, containers, and vases.

You can use these things in scientific experiments.

You can fuse these things together.

You can incorporate these things into projects involving stained glass, mosaics, or multi-media art.

You can decorate your house and your household things with these things.

You can texture surfaces with these things, using glues, cements or resins.
 You can buy these pre-made, or make your own.

You can do a lot of things with beads.

Most people begin by Stringing beads, and graduate to things like Weaving beads, Embellishing with beads on Fiber, Knotting and Braiding with beads, and Wire Working with beads. A few people learn to hand-make Lampwork glass beads, or learn to sculpt with Polymer Clay or Precious Metal Clay, or learn to solder using Silver-Smithing techniques.

And you can feel self-satisfied and secure in the knowledge that, should everything else in the world around you go to pot, we will all be back to bartering with beads.

And you will have them.

So, beads are good.

Getting Started

Everyone has a Getting-Started story. Some people were always crafty, and beading was a natural extension to what they were doing. Others were driven by the allure of beads and jewelry. They saw fabulous earrings and necklaces and bracelets in magazines, department stores and boutiques at prices out of reach, and they said to themselves: I can do this — and for less. And still others were drawn by the beads themselves — beautiful objects to be adorned. And played with. And fondled.

Vanessa told me how she got started. She had bought a strand of beads. She possessed them. They possessed her. She kept them with her at all times. In her pocket. In her purse. Between her hands. Inside a zip-lock bag. Then outside the zip-lock bag. And back into the zip-lock bag. After weeks of taking them out, putting them away, and then taking them out again, she sat herself down at her kitchen table. She lay the strand of beads on the table, ever-so-gently. She reached for the sharpened scissors. And cut the strand.

The beads rolled all over the table. Vaness’s eyes got wide. She told me she couldn’t stop looking at them and touching them and playing with them. The look on her face was sinful, almost pornographic.

Vanessa returned to the local bead store. And bought some more beads.

Terry had been crafty her whole life, ever since she was a little girl. She didn’t remember when she first started making jewelry. But she did remember when she was lucky enough to get paid for it. She made more jewelry. She sold more jewelry. And made more. And sold more.

Hessie loved to watch the jewelry home shopping network. She imagined herself modeling the jewelry on TV, and telling her audience how wonderful the beads and the colors and the stones and the designers all were. She began watching the craft shows on cable, and studying the instructors and every little thing they said and did. She started bead stringing jewelry and learning some wirework.

If you had walked into Renee’s bedroom, you would have seen boxes and boxes of jewelry — all in need of repair. She kept meaning to fix each piece, but the cost and inconvenience were too high. Finally, she convinced herself, “I can do this myself.”

Darita was a fiber artist. She had become frustrated, a bit, because she wanted more life in her projects. By a happy accident — a shattered car window and shards of glass sticking into several fiber projects on the front seat of her car — she discovered she could add beads. These beads added light and interplays on light. Darita was very happy with the results.

I always find myself asking our customers and students how they got started. Here’s how some of them finished the sentence, 
When I started beading…

“… I needed jewelry for my prom.”

“… My neighbor made me do it.”

“… A friend wanted a pair of earrings.”

“… I visited my first bead shop.”

“… I needed someone to repair a necklace, and couldn’t find anyone to do it.”

“… I needed to make some extra money.”

“… I was thinking about what to do after I retired.”

“… I ordered a kit on-line.”

“… I dreamed about beads and designed in my sleep.”

“… My dad brought me a beaded Indian doll, and I had to learn how to make something so similar.”

“… I was recuperating in the hospital from some surgery, and the volunteer brought me some beadwork to keep me busy.”

“… I begged a friend of mine to make me a bracelet like hers, but she never did. So I made one for myself.”

“… I decorated a scrapbook with some beads, and suddenly found myself switching craft careers.”

“… I needed an escape, something relaxing, something meditative.”

“… I was a baby in diapers learning to walk by following my mother holding some big beads dangling from a string.”

When I started beading in the late 1980’s, there were no major bead magazines — like Bead & Button or Beadwork. There were very few stringing material options, and in fact, many people used dental floss or sewing thread or fishing line. There were few choices of clasps and other findings — especially for stringing on thicker cords like leather or waxed cotton. I had to go to hardware stores and sewing notion stores and antique stores and flea markets to find things, and make them work. I cannibalized a lot of old jewelry for their parts.

I was in Nashville, Tennessee, at the time. There wasn’t much of a beading culture here. It was difficult to find advice and direction. This was pre-Internet. I mostly strung beads, and got hooked early on. Probably because I sold so much of what I made. Selling your stuff gets you addicted very fast.

Life Has A Way of Linking You Up To Beads

I grew up in a semi-rural part of New Jersey, where every year they published the Farms Report. The Report indicated how many farms were left in each county in New Jersey. There were 300 farms left in Somerset County when I left for college in Massachusetts. The year was 1971. My parents owned a small independent pharmacy. Their business could be traced back to before the Civil War, though it moved up and down the street several times on what was called The Old York Road. I worked in the store from when I was very young, and always loved the retail setting. Healthcare, my professional occupation, not so much.

As most upwardly mobile young adolescents do in the New Jersey/New York corridor, I pursued a professional track. I studied anthropology and psychology at Brandeis. I pursed a masters degree in City and Regional Planning at Rutgers. Got a job as a city health planner in New Brunswick, NJ. And eventually went on to get my doctorate in Public Health at the University of North Carolina.

I held a series of progressively more responsible jobs in healthcare. Initially, I was an assistant professor at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. I taught graduate students health law, medical anthropology, epidemiology, and health planning. Loved Ole Miss. Loved Oxford. Loved Mississippi. At the time, however, I wasn’t so keen on teaching, and was never a big fan of working in the healthcare field.

I went on to become a health policy planner for the State of Tennessee. That’s how I got to Nashville. And then director of the Tennessee Primary Care Association. But, at that point, I could push myself to stay in healthcare no more. In spite of the great pay. In spite of the prestige. In spite of the power base I had created for myself. In spite of wanting to help people get access to care. I finally reached a point where I no longer cared as much about the money. And I cared much more about bringing back some more authenticity in my life. Some other “Fool” could step in and take over all these professional responsibilities. I had paid my dues to society.

So, I took the plunge.

With my partner Jayden, we opened a bead shop. We sold all the parts, as well as finished pieces we made. We repaired jewelry. Jayden did some teaching and instruction. We were in the right place with the right products at the right time. Business sky-rocketed. I had assumed that I would have had to continue doing some healthcare consulting, mostly with HCA, and some teaching at the graduate program with Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University.

But I never had to. And, over the next 30+ years, never had to again.

I caught the bead-bug.

And it never left me.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

When Your Cord Doesn’t Come With A Needle…What You Can Do

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

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Posted by learntobead on January 23, 2014








At what point did you realize you were addicted to beads?


People are always saying how addicting beads are.    They expressed surprise that the pull of beads was so strong.    They couldn’t stop buying and accumulating beads.    They couldn’t go anywhere without stopping at the local bead store for a bead fix.    They found themselves intentionally fooling or deceiving themselves about how many beads they actually had, or how much money they had spent on them.


Yes, beads are very addicting.   Even though your drawers are full, you never have enough.


We asked our students, customers and colleagues to complete this sentence:


I never knew how addicting this was until….


…My car automatically turned into the parking lot in front of the bead store.


…I was laying in bed looking at my ceiling tiles and realized they were done in a “Peyote” stitch pattern!


…I made my beaded fish in progress into a screen-saver.  It is all about the process, when will I finish?  who cares… I have this beautiful thing to handle and see as I work.  Such a pleasure! 


… I began hiding a stash of money to buy beads:   “It’s not like I’m sleeping around….I’m just buying beads.”


… I went shopping for clothes, but came back with only one bag – a bag of mixed beads.


…. I used 3 checks to pay for my order – one from a joint account with my husband, a second from an account in my name only, and a 3rd from my son’s account – luckily I had his checkbook in my purse.   So now, my husband will think that I’m only spending a little bit, I can fool myself, and my son doesn’t care one way or the other.


… I  converted my dining room to a bead room, and made my family eat in the den on TV trays.


… I found that despite my long and mostly constant love of fabric – I am after all a lifetime seamstress, having been comforted by the smell and color of fabric stores and the chush, chush, chushing of my mom’s Kenmore machine since first memories – could not resist the magnetic pull into the unknown.  There, standing at the front door of my local craft store with nothing on my mind or agenda but 2 yards of multi-colored backing fabric for a client’s project, I saw the front of my wobbly plastic basket steering to the Northwest (Fabric is definitely to the Southwest) with such abandon that the lovely glass shelves in the center front of the store were in danger!


…I turned to beads for solace and a quiet focus. I have been going through a very hard time trying to keep a very ailing relationship together and when I could have been stressed out and worrying, I spent the time quietly beading.  When I just wanted to go to bed and stay there for days, I was able to sit in my living room with my son and do bead work.  To him, I was being with him and calm; to me, I was hiding in my beadwork and being near him.  Beads have been my refuge.  I have even read where hand needle work is a stress reliever, I am a living testament to that!


…I saw seed beads in what I scooped out of my cat box!  I took my bead work and worked in the car on vacation. Every time I vacuum the sound of beads is heard. It seems every purse I clean out has some beads in it. I find beads on the back porch, when I sweep. It is a really tough decision, when I come to the off ramp which leads to the bead store and I really need to get home! I have more beads than projects for them!


…I gave up a Shoe Addiction for this…it better be worth it!





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