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The Greatest Lover Of Beads Ever

Posted by learntobead on April 18, 2020

Connie Welch

The Greatest Bead Lover Ever!

Connie Welch was the greatest bead lover you could ever meet. She was one of our first store customers. She was instrumental in our success — on many levels. In 2009, she passed away.

It seems like only yesterday morning, Connie Welch and I were chatting about our very successful and exciting Laura McCabe workshops over the weekend before Connie’s death. We had all been together with our closest friends and bead-mates, and had met several more we immediately included with our group.

Connie had been very excited about the workshops. She loved the projects. They were fun, challenging and appealing. She learned many new things. She couldn’t wait to ask Laura to come back to Nashville again. Connie and I remarked how the workshop reflected the results of so many years she, I and others had spent creating and developing and fostering and participating in The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts — the name we gave our educational program at Be Dazzled Beads.

Connie was instrumental in bringing a professional bent to beadwork in Nashville. She played very key roles in helping Jayden and I grow our business and raise all our dogs, especially Rosie.

So you can imagine how shocked and saddened Jayden and I were to learn that Connie had passed away. We miss her deeply.

Connie was part of our original advisory groups which researched beading education around the world, distilled this information into sets of critical ideas, and then wove these ideas into our educational program at CBJA and Be Dazzled Beads. The first things Connie worked on were identifying critical bead-weaving skills, like managing thread tension. She worked with the group to developmentally order these skills, and then link them to specific courses. But her proudest moment and claim to fame was her development of our Advanced Bead Studies program. Connie took the leadership role in organizing these Bead Studies over 9 years.

Connie had shopped in our stores since our beginnings. She took it upon herself to make sure that we were always in the know about major things happening in the bead world. She was our “deputized” market researcher. She followed bead trends, bead magazines, bead websites and bead artists. She brought her knowledge of color and graphics to the fore. She made us aware of the local bead scene in Nashville, the major players, the stores, the groups and opportunities.

And Connie made sure that all our store dogs — Rosie, Dottie, Stormy, Lily and Daisy — were treated like royalty. Connie loved all our dogs, but had a special place in her heart for Rosie. And Rosie had a special series of sounds to announce each time that Connie was arriving at our store’s front door.

Connie loved to bead. She loved beads, beaders and anything beading related.

Connie’s enthusiasm affected all around her — almost as if she imbued them with all the visual and textural and sensual and emotional powers of the beads she so lovingly contemplated herself. Connie made everyone want to bead. And she made everyone want to share in the addiction.

I received this note about Connie after her death:

“I knew Connie from the AOL boards from years ago. I live in the Phoenix area and when she’d come in Sept, or then Aug, for the fiber convention, my job was to, on Fridays, drive to Walgreens, buy coke for her, hit the hotel, and she would yell at Jim (her husband) and I all afternoon as we tore up the hotel room, reinvented the furniture, and set up the displays to her satisfaction.

“She took us to dinner at a place called Sam’s every time, for working for her. Saturdays I would return and spend all day with her, beading, showing our stuff to each other, and she often shared stories of the Land of Odds, and the folks she met and the classes she took there.

“She told me some great stuff over the few years we did this. I’d return on Sundays and we’d visit again, but then Jim and I had to tear down and repack all of the show supplies to Connie’s barked orders.

“One time she sent me to another vendor to identify some stone beads. As it turned out, the woman was new to beading so I ended up giving her all sorts of information, and leads on other local stores besides where she had obtained said beads. The other vendor and her daughter spent much of that show buying the beads and buttons I had just learned to make along with things I had hauled in from Tucson, and ended up trading some beads for some silk ribbons I had. I’d had no idea what they were worth. I just showed them to her, and her eyes got big as saucers.

“While sitting in Connie’s showroom, we used to laugh hard and bead, and this drew in the “bead curious” who would have otherwise walked past her salesroom.

“Sometimes it would result in a sale, sometimes potential customers for either one of us as one time she let me display some beads in there — I just recalled that. But always Connie ramped up that person’s enthusiasm for beads, or learning to incorporate beads into their fiber work. When there was no one around, she loved to tell stories of beads and beading and however Cleo (her cat) got involved.

“Connie was generous with information and she was also really curious about how I figured things out. I was a self-taught beader and to date have still only ever taken 2 classes, maybe 3. Admiring her beautiful work inspired me to go further with my freeform work. She taught me now to make the little “boats” to start a freeform peyote pouch, and I have had some good success with that project.”

— — Caryn

Connie, we sure do miss you!

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

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