Thursday, July 24, 2008

So You Want to Bead?

I asked groups of artists-- beaders and non-beaders what suggestions they'd offer a beginning beader. They were a treasure trove of good tips!

What to buy:
CinderellasNemasis says: Buy either a beading mat or one of those plastic jewelry pads/holders so when you are working on a piece, you don't lose where you were at. If the dog hits the table the soon to be creation doesn't fall to the floor.

marynewton says: Buy good tools, take some classes.

bijoutery says: Buy good beads w/ a uniform size - cheap ones are often not uniform in size (often the cheap seed beads), and it will become frustrating real quick when trying to weave something and they don't fit together correctly.

customdiva says: Get every bead mag you can afford, and save all of them.

ArgentTadpole says: If you have friends around who are beaders, have a bead swap party once or twice a year. It's lots of fun and a great way to move out beads that you're not using any more in return for beads that are new and fresh to you.
I just bought a beading tray that has a cover that fits over the top of it. No more cat dancing in the beads incidents and it makes it super easy to take a project along with you.

JPDesignWorks says: Any "bargain" you get by buying "cheap" beads will quickly be lost to the aggravation of working with them. (inexpensive and cheap are not the same thing)

What to watch:
SquirrelsTale says: Be patient. Good beading techniques and skill do not just appear one day, they take time to build.

MikkiFerrugiaro says: Don't give up if the first technique doesn't work for you, there are a ton of different ways to make jewelry and you'll find one you love.

adinahalperndesigns says: Do not be intimidated! Embrace and enjoy each new stitch you learn. Take your time with each one and your skills will build on themselves before you know it!

AnnBurke says: Don't think it's a failure if you have to tear it up and start over a few times. Also, sometimes when you get a start on a project it looks really strange and when you finish it all comes together and looks totally magnificant.

Lynn Davy says: Don't be afraid to experiment - you will learn more by doing beadwork than by reading about it - even if all you learn at first is that you should have done it a different way! You can always recycle the beads into something better.

GrandmaMarilyn says: Don't let beading get you down. We are our own worst critic. Also, keep a pictoral record of everything that you do and date it. That way as you go up the ladder you can see your improvement.

ClaireCreations says: Don't get discouraged. Stick with it.

What to try:
AdornablesByLyn says: Use the internet to learn as much as you can.

TotallyTwisted says: Learn the basics, take some classes, buy instruction books and practice, practice.

tenstoreylovesong says: Always work in good light whether natural, or artificial and in a comfortable chair, your eyes and back will thank you.

EnchantedBeads says: Sign up for a group/team and stay connected!

SilverDragon says: Some learn from reading and studying illustrations. Others learn more effectively by studying with a teacher. In both cases, allow yourself to be inspired and don't just copy patterns.

Rainy Lane says: Allow your skills to develop at your own pace. I believe you will be naturally drawn to what feels best and right for you. Don't give up on yourself.

SmadarsTreasure says: Try not to decide whether you like a technique before you make at least 2 pieces using it. Collect knowledge about beading materials and learn how their characteristics influence the finished work.

adornedbyrobin says:
1) If you are going to wrap beads into dangles or links, practice with inexpensive wire before moving on to sterling silver or gold filled wire.
2) When clipping off extra sterling wire, save it. Those little leftovers can add up to a nice refund if you turn them in to a recycler.
3) Use the correct beading wire. Really strong beading wire is required for large heavy beads.
4) Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most of the employees at bead shops are beaders themselves. They are a great source of information and usually very helpful.

Stormslegacy says: Know your materials, and don't bother with the cheapest wire and findings because the poor quality will show no matter how good a beader you are!

SantiamDesigns says: Take your time, never settle for 'good enough'.

Angelicgems says: Remember to have fun above all else.

To sum up:
SalamanderHouse says: Try anything. Don't give up. Buy better lights.

Who's beading?!


  1. Great Blog entry! Very helpful for everyone!

  2. I may have to print this out and hang it over my work table. Wait, first I need to get a work table of my very own. :-)

  3. i was thinking the same thing, melody. it's never too late to learn!

  4. Interesting collection of information. Thanks for doing this!

  5. Great tips even for advanced beaders!

  6. Sarah, I really look forward anymore to your blog posts. You always have something unique and interesting. This is a great list of advice. Thanks!

  7. Great blog post - good tips for beginners and advanced beaders alike. I enjoyed reading everyones ideas.

  8. Thank you all for reading . . . and beading!

  9. great post.. i'll be sure to keep in mind all the ideas, suggestions and tips in here. very helpful and insightful indeed!

  10. What a wonderful, interesting and practical post!!! I really enjoyed reading everyone's tips!!!

  11. I have to say this is one of the most helpful, interesting articles I have read in a while. This is packed FULL of really great info. Great jog putting this together.