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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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Handmade Holiday Gifts ~ Part 1

Last year around the holidays, I made a big deal about the importance of supporting independent artists and local small businesses. I recently posted on my facebook fan page about my intent to do the same this year. My goal is to promote independent artists and businesses (including my own).

One reason that I am so passionate about this is that your purchase from a big box store is really just a drop in the bucket of their profit margin; while your support of an independent artist actually has a powerful impact on the life of an individual! Buying handmade also benefits you and your intended recipient, in that you’re choosing to give something unique — which (at least in my book) is wonderful and special.

“Y is for Yule” via

Another reason that I’m so vocal about this is that there were several years when the holidays were really really stressful for me. I made myself crazy and spent far more than I could afford, trying to make everything perfect — and by the time the holidays arrived I was uptight, angsty and disappointed. It occurred to me that the reason for this was that I had become a very well trained consumer — and in the process, I lost sight of the things that really make the holidays magical and special for me. Sappy as it sounds, those things are family, love, comfort, and taking time to relax and reflect on the year behind me. For the past 4 years I’ve made a concerted effort to focus on those aspects of the holidays, and it has made a tremendous difference in my stress level and satisfaction! I’d like to share that serenity with you.

Our consumer culture is so driven by the media push to “buy, buy buy” and to “act quickly!” and “don’t miss that super gonzo mega sale!” that we actually think that we have to do these things in order to express our love to our family and friends! Really, we don’t. Black Friday is a media construct and we can opt out, or at least seek meaningful alternatives. We can choose to do things with the folks we love and we can make things for them; if you’re not the crafty sort or you don’t have time to make things, then please consider doing your gift shopping with independent artists!

Tree topper via

In the coming weeks I’ll showcase handmade items that I love, in the hopes that you’ll support these amazing artists too — or at least feel inspired to support other artists and small businesses. I’m also going to spotlight special treats that you can give or do for yourself, because self care is SO important this time of year! Hopefully, I can do this in a way that is tasteful and low key; it is not my intent to bombard you with more pressure to consume. I simply want to offer positive alternatives that I hope will help you to create a more serene and meaningful holiday season.

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Holiday Shipping and Gift Certificates!

Just a quick reminder ~ the USPS says that if you want your packages to arrive by December 25th, they should be shipped by  December 21st (which is also the winter Solstice).

If you’d like to avoid shipping and shopping hassles all together, gift cards are a great way to go. They allow your loved ones to choose just what they want, and best of all it spares you from dealing with crowded malls and congested traffic. I’m now offering these in both of my Etsy shops.

You can print them at home or if you prefer, I can personalize and mail it for you… Did I mention that I’m a calligrapher?

These are available in multiple denominations in my mask & jewelry shop, which showcases one of a kind beaded jewelry and original leather masks… Aannd, you guessed it! You can also find gift certificates in my bead and jewelry supply shop, Treefrog Beads, which focuses on vintage and unusual materials. This is an awesome gift for your favorite bead addict 🙂

Whatever you choose (and however you celebrate) I hope that you find a way to avoid the stress, and enjoy some  time with the people you love!