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Slow Art

beaded gemstone layering necklaces

Someone recently asked me if I still do beadwork. The question surprised me a bit, because I feel like I have *always* done beadwork! (FWIW, I started beading in the 1980’s). 

But a look at my social media made me realize that I haven’t shared any intricate beadwork for a while. Most of the jewelry that I made during the pandemic was either leather jewelry or simpler strung gemstone jewelry (like the layering necklaces shown here).

While I do enjoy making and wearing the simpler stuff, it made me realize how much I miss the slow, meditative process of bead weaving and bead embroidery. My studio time will be limited for the next few months … so perhaps I will use what little creative time I do have to circle back on my beadwork for a bit!

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Gemstone Layering Necklaces

blue beaded gemstone layering necklaces

A pair of gemstone layering necklaces in cool blues, with sterling silver accents. Stones include blue kyanite, lapis lazuli, blue apatite, and faceted aquamarine. The hand dyed silk ties make these beauties adjustable from about 16″ – 26″. These will be included in my next shop update ~ date TBD. ⠀

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Creative Hibernation

semiprecious stone beads and cabs

My creative energy seems to go into hibernation during the winter months. This used to frustrate me, but now I accept that I’m simply not prolific all the time. I’ve come to appreciate this time to rest, restore, and plan.

It may not look like I’m doing doing much … but below the surface, I’m dreaming, planning, and planting creative seeds for the year ahead.

My semi annual trip to the gem show always helps to kick start that creative vision. It’s a much needed dose of sunshine, family, friends, and rocks! It’s also an opportunity to hand select high quality materials for my work. Playing with these sparkling stones definitely helps to awaken the muse!

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Stories of the 9/11 Bead Quilt Squares

Last night I was flooded with memories of working on the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project, and the many beautiful stories behind the squares. This project touched my life in a profound way; while it demanded an incredible amount of time, energy and commitment, I can honestly say that what I gave is a fraction of what I got back.  With that said, I wanted to share some of the beautiful, loving efforts that the beading community created during a difficult time <3

I’d like to share this first image in acknowledgement of one of our most dedicated coordinators, Rosa meyer. The bright blue squares (“our beads help…”) were her brain child, and this theme is repeated at the center of each of the 3 quilts. The one for DC has a series of red squares that read “Our beads help to remember the fathers, the mothers”. The one for PA has white squares that say “Our beads help to comfort the sons, the daughters”, and the one for NY (shown here) has blue squares with the words “Our beads help to honor the heroes, the victims”.

Thank you Rosa for your enduring passion and commitment to this project, and for keeping it visible in the (many) years that we searched for permanent placement!

9/11 bead quilt block
“Our beads help to honor the heroes and victims”

The 4 squares shown in this image were created by Julia Pretl, who was not only our coordinator for the MD area, but our (extremely talented) web designer. She helped to problem solve for the BQ project starting from day one, and on up to nearly 10 years later, when we finally secured permanent placement for the quilts.

Thank you so much Julia, for all your help and for putting up with so much of my crazy over these past 15 years!

This block includes squares by our NM coordinator, Nikia Angel (thank you Nikia!) as well as Rita Sova (angel) , Lisabeth Tafoya (in high resolution microbeads!) and the ever awesome Mary Tafoya. Her square commemorates the life of a NM man, Al Marchand, who was a flight attendant on flight 175.


Notice how several of the squares in this block are from Japan? There are many others throughout the quilt, most with the same red/yellow/green pattern as the one in the lower left corner. These came from a group of Japanese artists who worked on their squares together … many of them learned how to bead in order to participate in this project!

This block represents some of the MANY beaded squares collected by our AK coordinator, Jeanette Shanigan (I don’t remember exactly how many AK contributed, but it was a lot! Jeanette will tell you the exact #).

The one in the lower right (by Karen Palmer) showcases one of the most popular designs used in the quilt, a rose/flag motif, designed by my sweet friend Charlene Hughes, who was our CA coordinator.

Next to that (lower left) is a square by Kate Boyan, which especially touched my heart. She has been – and still is – one of my favorite bead artists, so it was a wonderful surprise to me when her square came in! There were many “famous” bead artists who contributed to this project, but to me they were all just good people coming together for a special cause … in her case, I have to admit to feeling a bit star struck!


These two squares by Anne Brazeale of AK are just a small sample of the many squares that we received from Native American beadworkers. I think she is Tlingit, but perhaps one of the beaders from the Mat Su Valley Bead Society will see this and let me know for sure.


There are so many special stories that I could share about these squares, and about our travels with the quilts as we worked to find permanent placement for them! I need to get on with my day today, but I will try to remember to share more of these as time allows. Many thanks to all of the wonderful people who helped with this project – artists, coordinators, supporters, viewers, and more. I appreciate you all, more than I can say.

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Forever Grateful <3

goddesses rocking my beadwork!This photo was taken at the Grateful Dead’s 4th of July “Fare Thee Well” shows. It’s particularly special to me, not only because it’s a photo of some of my favorite people, but because it represents a much needed realization and a shift in perspective. Sales have been lean since Etsy jumped the shark, and it’s been hard not to take that personally. The lull in business has made it hard to get by and frankly, it has caused me to question my creative work as well as my sanity!

There were several times that weekend when I looked up and realized that ALL of the beautiful women surrounding me were wearing my beadwork! These ladies are not only beautiful, they are powerful… healers, teachers, mothers, artists and so much more. It dawned on me that all of these goddesses that I admire are rocking MY work — and many of them have chosen to do so for decades! Seeing this was an incredible affirmation that my work – and its maker – will be just fine.

So at the risk of being long winded and/or sappy, I’d like to say thank you to the life long friends who have supported me all these years, to my loyal customers, and to everyone who shares and encourages my work today. It means more than you know, I’m deeply grateful <3

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Full Worm Moon

beaded triple moon pendant
beaded triple moon pendant

This piece seemed to fly off my needle last night. Not at all what I intended for this cab, but it seemed to have its own ideas as to what it should be!

The next morning, I read on the Farmer’s Almanac site that the March full moon was traditionally known as the “Full Worm Moon” and it heralds the end of winter and the onset of spring. It’s been a hard winter, so I’m celebrating the idea of spring and change

The Almanac explains:

As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.

Made with : Bali carved bone triple moon, titanium quartz points, shimmering blue kyanite, rutilated quartz and vintage Swarovski.

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Artchain Day 4

Artchain (nonconsecutive) day 4 – I was nominated  to post an item of artwork a day for 5 days, and to nominate others…

This necklace is another “failed” attempt. Made with Baltic amber cabochons, vintage Italian bronze & sterling silver plated seed beads, tons of swarovski, amber, topaz, citrine & Bali silver beads in 2001. I was unhappy with the neckline, and kept ripping it apart to redo (beadworkers call this “rippit stitch” 😉 ). I was so tired of fighting with the neckline that I let it sit unfinished until 2011. Even then, I was wary because I knew that it would only drape properly on a well endowed woman. I decided that it was time to let it go and move on. I listed it for sale – including the information about who/how it would fit – and received an inquiry within a week.

The woman who bought had been looking for an amber statement necklace for some time, and she had a very specific concept for it. This piece connected *perfectly* to her personal mythos (too personal to share, but trust me — perfect match). When she sent me the picture of her wearing it, I knew that it was truly made for her.

I find that intricate beadwork often sells more slowly than simpler/faster crafts, but when those pieces do sell, they seem to go to the exact right person… as if the piece was just waiting for that person to find it.

Baltic Amber Necklace © 2011 Andrea Adams
Baltic Amber Necklace © 2011 Andrea Adams

Baltic Amber Necklace © 2011 Andrea Adams
Baltic Amber Necklace © 2011 Andrea Adams

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Handmade Holiday Gifts Part Deux ~ DIY Supplies (or Gifts For Your Bead Babe)

In my previous post, I stressed the importance of stepping back from the media pressure to CONSUME during the holiday season, and I urged people to focus on finding more meaningful and affordable gifts. In that post — and the subsequent comments — we discussed the value in buying handmade and local. In the coming weeks I hope to share cool finds from some of my favorite artists, tinkers and makers (and I would love it if you would share your favorites too!); but first, I’d like to encourage some old fashioned DIY…

As I’ve mentioned before, creating beadwork is soothing and meditative. If you opt to make your own gifts, your recipient will not only have a lovely and meaningful gift that was handcrafted by you; but you may de-stress a bit in the process of creating that gift! Win, win — right? I’d like to enable … I mean, assist you with that goal. Below, you’ll find a few of my favorite beady businesses. These are woman owned small businesses, run by people who actually bead (the latter may sound  funny, but I assure you that this is becoming increasingly rare)! They are passionate about their products, and they add beauty to the world not only through their wares, but through their spirits. Each one is worthy of your support, and you can feel good about supporting small businesses and amazing individuals in one swell foop. I am including their locations, in case you’d like to take it a step further, and buy locally:

Beyond Beadery’s infamous wall-o-crystal!

 Beyond Beadery is owned by Betcey Ventrella and her sweetheart of a man, Mark. They are based out of Rollinsville, Colorado.

Miz Betcey is the undisputed queen of Swarovski crystal. She carries these sparkly confections in every imaginable color, size and shape. She also carries an impressive selection of Japanese seed beads, as well as those super special heavy metal seed beads. Scrumptious stuff! You should have no problem finding gorgeous supplies here — or perhaps a gift certificate for your favorite beader?

photo via

Another excellent source for seed beads is Out on a Whim , which is located in Cotati, CA. Out on a Whim is owned by Beki and Shawn Haley, who are absolutely beautiful people! Their shop has been family owned and operated since it opened in … sheesh, at least the early 90’s? Beki is a talented bead artist and instructor so she definitely knows her stuff! Her staff is equally knowledgeable, and their prices are highly competitive.

Beki recently taught at the popular BABE show, and she is scheduled to teach again at the Bead and Button show in Summer of 2012. She designs original patterns, which she offers as kits (complete with materials and instructions). If you’re looking for projects to make as gifts, or even just gifts for the bead addict on your list, you should definitely visit her kits page.

Those of you in the midwest might prefer to pay a visit to Stormcloud Trading (AKA “Beadstorm”), which is located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Stormcloud was opened in 1987 by the fabulous Sandi Graves. Her shop focuses on traditional and contemporary beading supplies, as well as leatherworking and metal supplies. Sandi is an accomplished beadworker, and she also works with enamel and metal.

Amazing work by Julia S. Pretl

If you’re looking for easy gifts, why not try a book, pattern or bead kit? As I mentioned above, these are great stress-free projects because they simplify the design process — and they make excellent gifts for bead fanatics! If you want to go this route, I have some great recommendations for you. First, I suggest books or patterns by the intensely talented Julia S. Pretl of Baltimore, MD. I’ve gushed extensively on this blog about Julia and her work (seriously, just check my tags to the right) so I will keep this suggestion simple: Julia is amazing. Go check her out!

BQ squares designed by Charley

Another bead designer that I love is Charlene Hughes, AKA “Beady Boop” of Arcata, CA. She was one of the first designers to start publishing pattern books, and she remains one of the most prolific and innovative designers of intricate peyote patterns. Charley no longer maintains her own website, but you can still find many of her books and patterns at Rita’s site.

Charley only beaded one of the 9/11 Bead Quilt squares on the panel to the right, but the other 3 squares were created using her designs. As you can see, she has an excellent eye for line and color.

Sparkly Wheels by Nikia Angel

Another great source for bead kits and patterns is Buy the Kit, which is owned by Nikia Angel of Albuquerque NM. The site features a wealth of Nikia’s beautiful bead designs, along with many other talented designers’ work. At this point, BTK represents over 20 well known bead instructors, many of whom teach at high profile shows such as Bead Fest and Bead and Button. Their designs reflect a wide array of styles and skill levels, so you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

You’ll find complete bead kits with materials and instructions, or you can choose from their “Beadless Kits” (AKA patterns) for necklaces, bracelets, bags, earrings, dolls, hair wear and more.

vintage glass cabs from Treefrog Beads

Last but not least, I’d like to give a little plug for my own virtual bead store, Treefrog Beads! I’m based out of Seattle, WA, and my focus is on vintage and antique beads and cabochons. I’ve been collecting old and unusual beads since the 1980’s, and I especially love glass cabochons, Swarovski crystal and antique micro seed beads. You can find my complete selection at my website, which is linked above — or you can peruse my listings over on Etsy. One caveat about ordering from me right now, though — I’ll be on the road from mid November through early December, so if you order during that time, there will be a slight delay in shipping.

So there you have it! If you love beads — or if you love someone who loves beads — you have a wealth of choices for great supplies and/or gifts! Again, each of the small businesses listed above is owned and operated by a wonderful woman. If your holiday list includes beads or beading supplies, I strongly encourage you to support one of these shops!

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Beads of Courage

A collection of artisan glass beads via the BOC blog

Sometimes this world can be a pretty dark place, but in spite of all the sadness and the ugliness that barrages us on the evening news, there are people out there doing amazing things. A light in the darkness, if you will… The folks at Beads of Courage are an excellent example of this. They have created an “Arts in Medicine” program that strives to provide comfort and aid to children and families coping with childhood cancer.

I fear that my attempt to explain this powerful program would only fall short. Instead, I invite you to watch this news clip featuring the founder and the families who benefit. It’s a compelling project worth getting behind. I encourage you to donate, or consider buying something from their online artists gallery.