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Taking A Bead On Beads

Updated on February 25, 2010

In the 1960s, women wore love beads. Today, they wear power beads. Over the centuries, beads have been used for status, prayer, money and trade. Many early cultures utilized beads as a form of currency while others set up an entire social hierarchy based on the wearing of beads. The more you had, the higher up in the pecking order of castes you were. To this very day beads are used in religious observances. Catholics generally carry a set of beads with them which they utilize to keep track of their sequence of short prayers. Many Eastern religions have applications for prayer beads as well.

Whether they believe beads possess powers or just love them, many women enjoy creating their own jewelry with beads. The Bead Goes On!

One advantage of making your own jewelry is the money you save. A crystal bracelet that costs $30 in a department store, you can re-create with the best crystal in the world for less than $7. To get started, consider taking a class at a local bead shop, looking up instructions on the Web or buying a book. There are literally endless websites and an almost infinite number of books available on amazon.com or your local bookstore that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about beads. Once you master a few very simple basic techniques, you can make your own jewelry quickly and easily. The hardest part of beadwork is threading the needle and selecting your colors.

Today's bead bargains include freshwater pearls from China and hematite, gray shiny stones from Alaska, which the Vikings used to decorate their shields. To string beads, many women use flexwire. It won't stretch, kink or break. This product has revolutionized the bead industry. You don't have to put knots between beads to create a beautiful necklace.

By making jewelry yourself, you can make it the way you want it. The two most popular activities for beaders are creating fashion jewelry, such as power bead bracelets and illusion necklaces, and weaving seed beads into brooches, amulet purses and other elaborate creations.

Once you know a little bit, it's amazing how much you can make with a little creativity. It's hard to make an ugly piece of jewelry with beads because the beads are so pretty, but if you tire of what you made, no problem. Take it apart and try again in a different way. You can scour consignment shops and flea markets searching for those very special antique beaded necklaces and buttons. Then you can combine the old beads and buttons with new beads to create your own unique jewelry.

If you're looking for inspiration, just check out the colors of nature or try to emulate the beauty of a rainbow. Or you can borrow the old bride's saying, "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue."

Whether they keep, give or sell their creations, many women enjoy working with beads. The repetitive act of stringing or stitching with beads is soothing and restful. After all, the worst the beads will do to you is roll away.

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