Question of the Week: What First Attracted You to Beads and Beadwork?

I can't remember a time when I didn't enjoy using beads and making jewelry. I always say that it's my mother's fault – she was a fabulous knit, crochet and needlepoint designer, and whenever she ordered her supplies she would include a bag of beads or buttons for my sister and me. I found myself completely mesmerized by the beads in the craft stores we visited, and as I grew up I continued to learn how to make my own jewelry. Then once I learned about the amazing history of beads and beaded jewelry, I was completely hooked! I knew there was no going back once I started dreaming about beads and coming up with new designs in my sleep, and I still find myself amazed at how relaxed and meditative I feel after a good session of beading.

I decided to ask our panel of bead artists and experts about their first experiences with beads and beadwork. This week's question of the week is: What first attracted you to beads and beadwork? What is it about beads and beadwork that keeps you coming back for more?

Read on for the answers from this week's panel!

Shelley Nybakke: One of my sister's friends made a jewel-tone Memory Wire bracelet for her.  After requesting that this friend make one for me numerous times, I finally gave up  and went to Hobby Lobby and purchased my first sack of beads.  A small fortune later, I still can't quit buying beads.  Fortunately, I also can't quit beading.  Just the endless endless possibilities keep me going along with my nice stash of beads.  And by the way, I made hundreds of memory wire bracelets when I started out. I often contemplate all the money I might have saved if the friend would have just made me that first memory wire bracelet.

Mikki Ferrugiaro: As a knitwear designer I was attracted to beads as a way to embellish my knitwear but it wasn't until many years later that I discovered bead weaving. I am drawn to making big things out of small things and beadweaving opened up so many options for that, whether it be jewelry or sculpture. The more I work with beads and thread the more possibilities I see, so I'll be coming back for more of these tiny, shiny babies for years and years.

Kelli Burns: I used to be an avid scrapper and while creating a card for my grandmothers' birthday from a scrapping magazine, it listed seed beads as part of the materials list. So I headed off to the local craft store (we didn't have a bead store -which is why I opened one) to find out what seed beads were all about…I immediately fell head over heels in love.

The reason I have stayed with beading, opened a bead store, gotten published, everything I do is because I LOVE beads! The endless variations, the permission I'm granted each time I pick one up to create anything, the colors, the styles, the textures, there is nothing not to love. I still have my scrap supplies but I'm 200% beader now and proud of it.

Beki Haley: I tell this story to my students in class all the time…my Grandmother is who got me attracted to beads when I was about 8 years old.  I spent my summers with her, she was an amazingly artistic woman who dabbled in almost every craft you can think of, knitting, crochet, paper crafts, model cars, even those resin toilet seat covers with seashells embedded in them (I can make a mean toilet seat myself!)  But when she would pick up her beadwork I would notice a calm come over her.  One day I said, "Nana, how come when you play with your beads you are so quiet?"  She called me over to her and pointed my direction down to her beads.  She said, "See that little tiny hole?" I nodded yes.  She said, "When I bead I climb down inside that little hole and there is no room in there for any of life's issues to come and bother me, everything is peaceful and can I just escape."

Her words hold true for me as well.  While I use my beads daily for enjoyment and the calm they bring to me, I also always turn to them during any major crisis in my life for comfort and peace.

That little tiny hole that I can climb into when needed is also what keeps me coming back for more!  I am truly, madly, deeply in love.

Kerri Slade: Beads found me at a very low point in my life and I have since discovered that they have worked this same magic for many people through the years.  The slow methodical nature of beadweaving and the concentration required gave me something other than my troubles to focus on and the awe inspiring feeling of watching something beautiful emerge from my own imagination and fingers brought back my smile.  That was over 10 years ago and now beads and I seem to be inextricably woven together and we wouldn't have it any other way!

Rosanne Andreas: I have a clear memory of the first time I was attracted to beads. I was a baby in diapers. My mother wanted to encourage me to start crawling. I would not budge. One bright sunny day, as I was contently sitting on the floor playing with nearby objects, my mother entered the room with a box in her hand. She smiled at me, and the box had colorful glittering light reflecting out of it. That box had my attention instantly!  Mom placed the box on the floor about 4 feet in front of me. I could not see into the box from that far away. Whatever was in that magic box created streams of colors reflecting out of the box glittering & shimmering movements all over the walls & ceilings. I looked all around the room seeing the magical colors shimmering on the walls & ceilings coming from THAT BOX! I looked back down at that box, and I instantly crawled over to that box to see what was in it. I HAD to see what was in that magical box creating all those delightful loving shimmering colors! To my delight I saw in the box the most beautiful assortment of colorful shimmering stuff!  As an infant I had no idea what these object were, but they were magic to me! I looked into this box with a large smile, looked back at Mom who was smiling at me, looked back into the box, and I dived my hands into it!!! It was a box filled with my mothers collection of crystal, glass & pearl necklaces. My little hands lifted up strings of smooth glass beads, some faceted, some clear, and as I lifted them up to see them better at eye level, and above for the light to catch it more, and see all the glitter, I began to hug them to my face, and drape them all over my body. I was….in heaven! That did it for me.  And I could hear my Mom giggling as I did this.

So what's YOUR bead story? How did you get into beads and beadwork? What did you enjoy the most about beadwork as a beginner? What do you enjoy most about it today? Share your stories here on the blog, and check back next week for another Question of the Week with our panel of bead artists and experts!

Bead Happy,


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