This year I had the honour of being ambassador of International Beading Week. IBW is a series of events organised by The Beadworkers Guild (registered in the UK but open to everyone) to attract more attention to beadwork and celebrate this beautiful craft together. I organised a real life meeting in Amsterdam (you can read about it here on my blog and here from Tereza of Potomac Beads). Beaders came from all over The Netherlands, but I also wanted to come up with activities in which everyone around the world could participate. Besides designing a beading pattern for everyone to enjoy, over the course of the International Beading Week I asked five questions on my Facebook page and on the official page of IBW with the aim of re-discovering our beading journeys together.
This is the first part of the series summarising our beadstory.
The photos in the article are from my archives, not made or chosen by the participants.
Do you remember how and when did you start beading?
Do you remember your first beads?
“My first beads were a handful of Czech glass beads in different colours, mostly very tiny ones. I think maybe smaller then 15/0. As I remember, I got them from my aunt. I grew up in a socialist country (Slovakia), so we couldn’t find any more in the shops, even if we lived together in Czechoslovakia! I treasured what I had greatly, and strung the beads in many different combinations. I always had to cut apart the necklaces and bracelets when I wanted to make new ones. It was the pleasure of touching them, sorting them, playing with them I focused on, not the outcome.
I could never imagine the amount and wide range of beads we can have a couple of years later :D”
“I looked at some pieces of beadwork that my German grannie had made in tiny tiny beads sometimes pre war, and I made a loom out of a picture frame and loomworked a fringed green black and silver necklace for a pal’s birthday. My Omi (grandmother) has been an inspiration to me in many fields. I started beading 5 years ago.”
Christiane MC Keown
“I never strung a bead until I was 43 years old. Then, we had a teambuilding event at work and after the formal part, there was a fun part. There were several workshops which all lasted about 1,5 hours. So I chose the workshop beading with waxcord and making a bracelet. We all sat down at a long table. They placed boxes full of beads in all possible colours and shapes on the table. I was mesmerized. It was outside in the sun, and those beads were begging to be strung… I fell in love instantly. I began to explore the beading world, buying beads never knowing if I would use them, because I didn’t know what could be done with them. So first I started to go with wax cord, then moved on to stringing on elastic, then I learned how to use eyepins and headpins and created simple bracelets with that. But then when I was stumbling around in Bead Wonderland like an unknowing Alice, I heard about a local beadshop. Which is called Limited Edition and is being run by Monique Kooijand her daughter. Through their workshops in the last couple of years, I learned so many techniques. I also followed some of your classes at Limited Edition. So now, 5 years along, I can say that beading is my passion for life and I still get excited when I see all the possibilities with the still expanding Wonderland of shapes and colours. I love it ❤️”
“My first beading was when I was a young married woman with two little girls. At that time my friends were transferring pictures into shirts and than we used sequins and beads to stitch around the pattern. I was in my 20’s. Next I put bead’s into my needlepoint and about 20 years ago I started serious beading.”
“My very first beads were plastic “pop beads” when I was a little girl! I played with them for hours at a time, never tiring of them ? My journey with seed beads didn’t begin until I was an adult, and became entranced by a lady beading in a campground. I showed so much interest, she knocked on our camper door that night bearing a pattern and seed beads to teach me how. And the rest is history ?”
Anita M. Adamson
“Hmm…Like Anita my first beads were “pop beads”. I played with them and combined them different ways. As a young teen, I strung some seed beads I came across on string for a necklace and added plastic pearls on a straight pin (bent over with needle nose pliers) to the bottom of a pair of purchased earrings. Fast forward to my early 50s when I picked up beads again when my sisters and I made a bracelet and earrings with simple bead charms made with headpins. At age 55, I took a class for seniors at a local community college and did my first beadweaving. Almost 3 years later, I am hopelessly hooked on beadweaving!”
“My husband was in Afghanistan and I was depressed. I purchased a beading kit from Michaels and I have been hooked ever since. The kit came with glass pearls and metal beads. . I now do off loom beading and bead embroidery, mostly with seed beads.”
“I joined a Mardi Gras marching group, Dames de Perlage, its inaugural year, 2012, using seed beads to create a beaded corset. We learned from some men in the local community who participate in what is called “Mardi Gras Indians” groups, and who create magnificent costumes, mostly using seed beads, that they show on Mardi Gras morning, St. Joseph’s night, and usually one other day of the year. Each year they “make a new suit,” as their popular song says, and so do we. After spending hundreds of hours on corset beading, in the third year I created a bead embroidery to go with my costume. I was hooked and wanted to make more wearable pieces that I could use every day, instead of making a corset that I could wear 4 or 5 times. After that necklace, I started making bracelets, with bead embroidery around a metal cuff. I also make bead embroidery brooches and occasionally another bead embroidery necklace.”
Denise Broussard Sassone
“True to one of the hallmarks of my Nigerian culture, I decided to start an independent jewelry business at the age of 14. I knew that I needed to start selling my creations if I wanted to be able to keep purchasing the beads I wanted. I taught myself daisy-chain stitch by mimicking the thread pattern from a friend’s necklace, without disassembling it. I called my business “DaisyHaze” and my stock offerings included daisy chain rings, matching bracelet/necklace sets and tiny beaded hair beads. Numerous classmates became repeat customers. Mrs. Louise Runion, my favorite art teacher, allowed students to sell our creations in the Art Club’s meetings, so I also sold my wares there.
During my 3rd year in high school, I learned that my mother had purchased a home in a different county, which meant that I would complete my senior year in a different high school. As a parting gift, Mrs. Runion threw me a party at the last Art Club meeting, and allowed me to shop ‘carte blanche’ at a local craft store. I purchased my first set of jewelry-making tools, my first Bead & Button magazine, and various beads and supplies. Once internet usage became mainstream in public libraries and schools, I fervently perused websites that would serve to inspire and educate me. I stumbled upon geometry-inspired bead-weaving and 3-dimensional art circa 2001. Artists such as Valerie Hector, Gwen Fisher, Suzanne Golden and Laura Shea helped open my eyes to the vast possibilities of mathematics within the art of beadweaving. I am grateful for the power and connectivity of social media to connect me with these artists both personally and professionally.”
“I started beading after having surgery on my dominant hand. My PT had me picking up small beads to string…. a few months later I was walking past a bead shop, went in and signed up for a stringing class. I purchased some great furnace cane beads in black and white (I still wear that necklace). I went on to take bead weaving classes and 20 years later, I am still memorized by beads!”
“I started beading my “dream necklace” (Atoll) in my mind (and on paper) during nearly 1 year while being in a difficult situation. Then I helped a woman with her post-graduate dissertation and asked to be paid in beads. I could finally start beading and learn learn learn. Then, with some of the little material that I had received, I cooked up “Roma” which won the FMG beading contest. A beady fairy tail!”
“Back when Fimo was a fairly new product in Australia (way way back when I was in primary school!) one of the first things I made with it was beads, including a little strand of wonky worry beads. Now over 50 years later my beads are a bit more sophisticated but I have held onto that pleasure of creating something beautiful from something formless: nowadays from packets of polymer clay, rods of glass, or piles of seed beads.”
Did you miss the opportunity to share your story during International Beading Week?
Tell us in a comment now :
Do you remember how and when did you start beading?
Do you remember your first beads?