Beading Kits: Love 'Em or Leave 'Em?

The packaging for one of the very first beading kits I ever bought, circa 2000.

I can still remember the first beading kit I ever bought. It was for a pair of fringed brick-stitch earrings that looked like shooting stars. The beaded earrings were big, clunky, and the colors were borderline ugly, but the beading kit was so much fun to put together that I immediately went back and ordered more kits for beaded amulet bags and delicate netted necklaces.

The beading kit itself was unremarkable. The beads were separated into tiny plastic bags that were stapled to a piece of cardstock with a label stuck to it, featuring a picture of the finished project. There was no thread included with the beading kit, and the instructions were printed out on regular computer paper.

Now, THIS is a beading kit! Instructions on CD, beautiful packaging and a fabulous beading project. What more could a bead-lover ask for?

Fast-forward eleven years to the last beading kit I bought from Carol Dean Sharpe of Sand Fibers. It came beautifully packaged in a reusable box, and the directions were on a CD that I popped into my laptop. Oh, and did I mention the project was an amazing beadwork design, too? It was a totally fabulous textured cuff bracelet using metallic triangle beads and cylinder beads. (Unfortunately, Carol no longer offers these kits, so I was thrilled to have been able to snag one!)

Beading kits have definitely changed in the eleven years since I started beading seriously. These days, beading kits are big business. Most beading designers I know have told me that their income comes mostly from beading kits, not from class fees for teaching. Even at my local farmer's market where I sold my finished beadwork for several years, my beading kits were always a big hit and almost always sold out each week.

So what's the big attraction with beading kits? Some people, including me, love them. I love getting an attractively packaged kit with all the beads and supplies I need to create a new piece of beadwork. It's nice to have the exact supplies that you need right there and labeled so that there's no confusion when it's time to sit down and start beading. And when I take a beading class, I find that kits are a very economical way to make sure that I have exactly the right supplies for that particular class or project. As one fan of bead kits said to me once, "No fuss, no muss, you have an instant beading project in a box!"

But there are others who aren't fans of beading kits. For starters, there are usually a limited number of color palettes available when buying a beading kit. If you don't like any of the colors available, well, you're out of luck. Other people feel that beading kits stifle their creativity because they enjoy adding their own personal touches to each beading project. There's also the cost involved when purchasing beading kits, some of which can easily cost over $100 for a single project, depending on the materials used.

What's your take on beading kits? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Don't really care either way? Leave a comment and share your thoughts here on the blog.   

Bead Happy,


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