The Storytelling Jeweller

7 beading advice I always give my students (and which I am guilty of ignoring :D). Part 1 | The Storytelling Jeweller

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7 beading advice I always give my students (and which I am guilty of ignoring :D). Part 1

7 beading advice I always give my students (and which I am guilty of ignoring :D). Part 1

Several weeks ago I shared something personal about my financial situation on Facebook, and how I’m juggling two jobs: beading and tour guiding. While beading is my true passion, being a traveler myself means that I love working with tourists and showing them around in my beloved Amsterdam. It doesn’t pay much, however, it’s easy money meaning that all I have to do is take a walk, tell some stories and have fun with like-minded people. (Ok, it’s not that simple and there was / is a lot of learning which had to be done, but after 2 years I could do it even if you waked me up at 2am and placed me at whatever random location in the city. Check out the beaders who visited me in Amsterdam in 2017!)


This is me and my group of 12 from South India, including the four cuties who called me “auntie” and took turns in who can hold my hand


In comparison: designing, writing and marketing a new design can take more then a week.
And it takes way longer to earn the money covering this time then to cash in my salary as a tour guide.


I love the combination of my jobs: sitting in my home studio and beading and afterwards going for a walk with my tourists. However, having close to zero guests in January and February and the imbalance in my bank account freaked me out. When finally the season (= tulips in bloom on the Dutch fields) kicked in, I started to accept every job I could fit in my schedule. Guess, what! It didn’t end well…

While I enjoy the company of travellers in Amsterdam and even earn some money while doing that, working in tourism is not my nr. 1 calling. Designing new beading patterns and sharing it with you is! Even if it sounds obvious once I write it down, it’s not easy to admit that in order to achieve my long-therm goal I have to turn down some of the offers for guiding, so I actually have time to design, prepare new projects, and build up a portfolio of projects suitable for teaching.

I’m on my way now, and soon I can start offering projects which will be available exclusively as workshops. It will take some time though. In the meanwhile I decided to write down some of the little tips and tricks I give my students while working together during a beading class. This is the first part of the series, and soon the next is coming!

Charlestone bangle, using many different 2-hole beads.

Check all holes of the multi-hole beads!

Since the arrival of the first multi-hole beads on the market (SuperDuo by Sabine Lippert) we all have the nightmare of discovering that the second (third, fourth) hole of the bead is clogged way later after incorporating it in the design. After numerous inextricable thread passes, several layers of other beads and maybe even finishing off the old thread and starting a new one… Especially if we like to make knots.

An easy way to avoid a nasty surprise is to check all holes before using a bead. But tell that to someone in beading frenzy!

Put aside the needle before ripping!

Have you ever sew through the thread itself while undoing some stitches which didn’t turn out well? If not yet, then believe me that it is not something you want to happen! It creates a nasty knot hidden in a bead and damages the thread. It’s a lot safer to put aside the needle before you start the frog stitch (rip-it, rip-it) to avoid this kind of mishap. However, there’s the voice in the back of the head: “It’s only one stitch, why re-thread the needle? The hole of the bead looks big enough! I went only three times through this bead so far, there’s not a big danger!”

What do you think, is it worth to risk it?


I ran out of 15/0 beads TWICE while working on the Serendib vest. I was lucky though and got the right shade!

Check your stash before you start a new project!

As a bead shop owner I saw one too many time beaders going berserk after they found out that we don’t have and can’t order the same bead they started to work with. Or finding out that the beads coming from a different batch have a slightly different shade.

It’s always best to stock up when you intend to create something new. Of course it can happen that you don’t know in advance how many beads you’ll need. It’s always best to count with a bit more. The staff in your local bead shop makes its best to supply you with the beads you need, and often they can give you a better price if you buy in bulk, as they don’t have to measure the beads for smaller packages.

My trick is to buy factory packs of seed beads in the colours I really like, and which are easy to combine with other shades. This way I can make sure to avoid running out of them in the middle of a project, and I pay a lot better price.


The Sea Urchin pendant requires multiple thread-passes through the small holes of 15/0 beads and 3 mm bicone beads. Be careful!

Don’t force the needle to go through a small hole!

Sometimes pushing the needle a little bit more or pulling it gently with flat nose pliers make it to slide through the hole and you can continue beading. However, sometimes you end up with a broken bead and a ruined project. While working with Peyote stitch and in case of smaller beads it is usually fairly easy to replace the broken bead, sometimes it’s beyond hope to repair. Especially if it is a multi-hole bead with the other hole(s) still attached to the project.

I keep some super-thin needles on hand to solve a situation like this. It’s not comfortable to work with them all the time as they bend and break easily, however, they can save a tricky situation. It’s still a smaller trouble to switch to the thin one for the tricky bead and to switch back to the working needle again, then to start anew!

Clean your bead mat after finishing a project!

Clutter makes you less effective. Leaving leftover beads on the bead mat to have them on hand “just in case” is not a good strategy. They will pile up one after another and mix together with other shapes and colours. It’s easier to pull them out when you really need them. I keep several bead mats on hand, one for each project, so beads from different designs don’t mix. It’s a lot easier then to put back the beads to their containers.


Do you see the glass jars in the background? This is how I store my fire polished beads. Guess how easy it is to spill them all when I don’t close the lid properly!

Close the lid properly when you put aside a container full of beads!

It can happen for whatever reason: you think you will need some more in just a minute, or plan to put back the leftover in a little while. Or maybe you are taking photos of your jewellery, and use some extra beads to create a nice scene. Whatever is the reason, it’s always the best to close the container properly when putting it aside. Several weeks ago, while working with some hard to find Swarovski bicone beads I was thinking I better be careful, as I have so few left. Guess, what happened 5 minutes later?!

Buy the beads you totally fell in love with, even if you decided to save!

Did you just went through your beading supplies? Did the sheer amount of beads freaked you out knowing how much you’ve already spent on this hobby? Maybe it’s reasonable to take a step back… However, if you just discovered a shape or colour which screams your name every time you see it in the bead shop (Why are you there if you decided to save, anyway? :D), maybe it’s not the right moment to cut all spendings. (Of course I’m not talking about a situation when it’s really important to hang onto every penny or cent.) Buying one (1!) package of beads you simply love helps you to preserve willpower to avoid buying 10 more unnecessary packages next week. And it may kickstart your creativity in a new and interesting way!

What are the mistakes you always tell yourself (or others) to avoid, but maybe still keep doing? Tell us in a comment!

Beadlove and beadpeace,


Comments (6)

  1. Avatar

    Thank you Erika…Best Wishes in all that you do and endeavor.

    Eva Maria
    Sep 4, 2018 Reply
    • Avatar

      Thank you, and same to you, Eva!

      Erika Sandor
      Sep 5, 2018 Reply
  2. Avatar

    Thank you for the interesting article and sound advice. It occurred to me once many years ago how much fun it would be to provide tours in my homeland of Vienna Austria.

    Eva Maria Keiser
    Sep 4, 2018 Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Eva! I am very happy to see you here, thank you for visiting 🙂
      Tours are big fun, and I learned so much about Amsterdam thanks to them! In the meanwhile I decided to give up guiding professionally, but I still enjoy it very much when friends or family are visiting.

      Erika Sandor
      Sep 4, 2018 Reply
  3. Avatar

    You sure have an awesome *extra* job that makes you walk and move enough to balance the long hours sitting in your studio. I wish that I could do the same here in Geneva! I speak enough languages after all 🙂 Thank you for the good advice!

    May 16, 2018 Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Cath, I’m so happy to see you here! I’m glad to hear you like the article. Is there something you would add to the list from your own experience?

      Erika Sandor
      Jun 4, 2018 Reply

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