Five Lessons From a Bead Collection

I snapped a picture of my purchases from a recent bead excursion and laughed as I reflected on on firsts…the first time I crimped…the first time I strung expensive beads…the first time I added found objects to my stash…the first collection.

As a bead beginner, the very word “collection” intimidated me. It sounded, well, professional!

I listened to my mentor describing the purpose of a collection and nearly fainted from anxiety:  “What if nothing sold?” “What if people laughed at my collection?” “What if I couldn’t think of enough designs to even make a collection?”

Now I realize that collections can be groupings of jewelry that show well together. I have three lessons gleaned from my first collection.

1. Be comfortable.

It’s almost as if you prepare a guest list of people who will get along well. Beads, like people seem to go in groups. My advice is to choose beads you like, especially to begin. The look of a collection starts with the beads that form its base.

I chose a Denim and Pearls” theme for my first collection. Blue, a calming color, is one of my favorites. Jeans seem to be appropriate anywhere in New Mexico. Instead of analyzing, I just went with it.

My beads included natural blue lapis, denim lapis, blue glass, decorative trade beads and dyed blue freshwater and keshi pearls.

2. Gather materials.

The heartbeat of a collection begins in the gathering of materials: searching the flea market, visiting bead stores, scouring estate sales, shopping gem fairs and specialty shows like the fiber arts fiesta.

Bead shopping takes on new meaning when it’s done with purpose and people. I recommend both.

In addition to beads, I gathered display materials, tags, cards, signs and more. Whew! I started a list to remind myself of everything…but that’s another post.

3. Make new friends and renew old friendships.

I marvel at the opportunities presented to me by beading. At the Placitas Art Fair I met Geri who shares some of my same interests in tribal symbols, trade beads and ethnic looks.

I enjoyed one of Lodi’s bead classes with Vicki who caters to small pieces and shiny stones (think Swarovski crystal).

This week as I needlepointed with my three friends Margie, Priscilla and Nancy, I reflected on my blessings and how grateful I feel to have such support and joy in my life.

4. Start stringing.

Ultimately, it comes down to the doing. Until you take action and begin stringing, there is no collection.

For me, there’s no replacement for actually making and wearing the piece. You feel the balance, notice the color, and sense the appropriateness of your beads. If I spend the day in my studio beading, I wear each necklace for a short time. I notice its texture, and the energy of each bead.

Not every necklace is an award winner. But every single one is a reflection of me. And some days I’m just moved to string beads, put one or two necklaces together. The magic of the beads sort of causes the necklaces to make themselves!

5. Celebrate success.

Would I do it again? My first collection was displayed at an outside show. In typical, school-of-hard-knocks-style, I endured 90-degree full sun, 30-mile-per-hour wind gusts and an eight hour introduction to the public.

That day formed a great foundation for where I am today. I wouldn’t change a thing.

In the end, it’s not about the analysis. It’s about the feeling. It’s such a deep part of me I can hardly begin to discuss it. I am moved to bead and moved by beading.

My beading “Romances the Soul.”