Beaded craft can be easy, fun and practical

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Editor’s note: The News-Herald continues its new regular feature, &uot;How to…,&uot; in which staff writers provide you with information on a wide variety of topics. Today, Allison T. Williams shows how easy and fun it can be to make beaded jewelry. If you have an idea for a feature, please contact Stephen H. Cowles, managing editor, at 934-9613 or via e-mail:

By Allison T. Williams

Suffolk News-Herald

Email newsletter signup

It can be bright, chunky and funky.

Or it can be demure, delicate and elegant.

Whatever your preference, it’s amazingly easy to design and create a piece of beaded jewelry that reflects your style and taste.

&uot;Beading is hot these days,&uot; said Sandy Hubbard, manager of The Bead Store in Newport News’ Hilton Village.

A specific how-to article is hard because of the endless variety of beads available – stone, metal, glass, wood, ceramic, semi-precious – and styles that are as individual as the people who craft the jewelry.

Learning from a friend or taking a class from one of the handful of bead shops in Hampton Roads is the easiest way – and least costly – for newcomers to explore the art, Hubbard said.

Most bead shops, including The Bead Store and the newly opened Beadworkz, off Harbourview Boulevard, offer a plethora of beading classes.

Far and away, the gold bangle class offered several times monthly is The Bead Store’s most popular, said Hubbard.

Teens are attracted to hemp-and-bead bracelet classes.

Mothers and daughters come together, maybe to buy beads or Austrian crystals to make a necklace to go with that hard-to-match dress.

Others come to take classes in wire-wrap jewelry, making beaded rosaries or beaded necklaces and earring sets, Hubbard said.

&uot;We have something for everyone,&uot; she said, adding the store has about 15 types of classes being offered several times a month.

Another benefit of taking classes is that people don’t have to worry about buying tools, she said.

&uot;Getting all the tools needed to make jewelry can cost between $100 and $200,&uot; Hubbard said. &uot;After taking a class, people can decide whether they like it enough to make that investment.&uot;

People bead for a variety of reasons – to make money, to save money by making their own items or as for a creative outlet.

&uot;I find it meditative,&uot; said Hubbard. &uot;Beading is calming to me.&uot;

Wendy Spain, a Nansemond-Suffolk Academy teacher who sells her beaded creations at Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy, agrees.

&uot;This is relaxing. It’s a stress-reliever for me,&uot; she said. &uot;I love it! It’s fun and I love seeing the finished product.&uot;

Because she makes a large volume of jewelry, Spain orders her beads and supplies off the Internet.

Although she recommends that first-timers go to bead shops, she suggested that people go in knowing basically what they want to buy.

&uot;It’s easy to spend a lot of money in bead stores without even realizing it,&uot; she said. &uot;It adds up fast.&uot;

Hubbard and Spain offered up these beading tips:

nStart simple.

&uot;Stick with single-strand bracelets and necklaces until you get the hang of it,&uot; Spain said. &uot;You’ve got to learn how to put the beads together. A lot of times, if you have practiced with the single strands, it’s hard to go on to more challenging projects.&uot;

nSteal ideas from other people!

&uot;I look at magazines and television shows and try to copy what I see people wearing,&uot; Spain said. &uot;I’ve made several pieces with pottery pendants similar to one I’ve seen Jennifer Anniston and Katie Couric wear.&uot;

Hubbard agreed, saying her customers often come in with pictures of jewelry they had seen in catalogs.

&uot;You can make jewelry for about 1/3 of the price it sells for in a catalog,&uot; she added.

nGive your jewelry a focal point. In other words, build the necklace around a large centerpiece, such as a pendant, Hubbard said.

nDon’t be afraid to experiment with texture, size, color and composition of beads, she said.