Inside the Studio with Humblebeads

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you’ll leave comments! As an incentive, we offer a prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard and tell us what you think. The following week a winner is chosen at random from all eligible entries.
Congratulations to Bijoux Gems Joy on winning a $15 voucher from Rebecca! 
Contact her to claim your prize! 

My trunk and art show at Allegory Gallery.

Welcome this week to Inside the Studio with Humblebeads. I’m away in Pennsylvania this weekend teaching a retreat hosted by Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery. We are having quite an amazing time.

A funny little thing happened on the drive over that has been churning in my brain all weekend, so I thought I would share.

I bought a magazine to browse during the long drive and when I pulled it to look over while we waited for our dinner, I mentioned how the magazine was quite a splurge. Rosanne asked if it was like a $15 splurge, which seems pretty high for a magazine. Nope, it was $22, quite a splurge for a magazine. And then a thought came to me and I asked Rosanne jokingly, “Well, really though what’s the price of inspiration?”

The invaluable source of inspiration. 

And this is what has been running though my head all weekend. It’s okay to invest in inspiration. In fact, I highly recommend it. There is a wealth of free inspiration. Take a walk in the woods or a garden, head on over to Pinterest or your local library, pull out your camera and be a tourist in our own town or join one of the many free blog hops or challenges online. This is no shortage of free inspiration.

But the kind of inspiration to invest in comes in the form of knowledge and experiences. Buying inspiring books and magazines to keep in your studio, paying for museum visits or memberships, attending bead shows, signing up for retreats and classes – these are all priceless sources of inspiration that are worth pulling out the credit card!

And then I started thinking and this is the big one, what’s the price of inspiration that bead stores offer us?

I’m been enjoying picking though Allegory Gallery’s beautifully stocked store and thinking what a shame that all the bead stores in my area have gone out of business. I know so many people think, well I can get a better deal online or a store may have a limited stock but what is the price of the inspiration that a local bead store provides? It’s invaluable really and certainly worth the few dollars you may save by ordering something online. And unless you are ordering wholesale it really is only going to be a few dollars difference.

A good bead store will have beautiful examples of jewelry, displays of beads in creative combinations and store owners and employees that can offer tips and advice. A good bead store will offer inspiration in the form of classes, events and challenges. One store, Stony Creek in Ypsilanti, MI had color palettes printed out and hung next to color coordinated displays of Czech glass and seed beads. I wanted to buy everything!

Sue Kennedy of SueBeads and Rosanne shopping.

So I have a challenge for you.

It’s a big one and it’s a long term one. I challenge every Art Bead Scene reader to head to your local bead store once a month.

Get to know the owners, shop, take classes if they offer classes. Take an art bead and match up accents beads for it from your local shop. Become part of that bead store’s community. If your bead store is a little lack luster, ask if they have thought about carrying a few of favorite products and share a resource or two with them. Now, not everyone has a local bead store. So for some of you a local bead store may be a 2 hour drive. Bring a girlfriend and make a day of it. I know I plan to start traveling once a month to one that is 45 minutes away that I have neglected.

Pendants by Andrew Thornton

If we stop supporting our local bead stores, we are going to lose out on something very valuable – and that will be the price of lost inspiration!

To enter this week’s drawing simply let me know if you plan to take the challenge or what has been an inspiration splurge that you have invested in lately. The prize this week is a $25 gift certificate to Humblebeads.com.

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26 Comment

  1. Divya N
    September 20, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    They are not many dedicated bead stores where I live, but there is one craft shop which I frequent. The service might be slow and the owners a little tired but I know where almost everything is in that store. I do wish they would carry more local items that simply China made stuff. This wonderfully written post has also given me an idea to open a bead store, wouldnt that be lovely?

  2. Mary @ MaryMorrisJewelry.etsy.com
    September 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    That is a wonderful idea. Two shops in my area have closed and I changed ownership. I love the handmade beads there. I'll visit this week.

  3. Jade Webber
    September 20, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I wish there were more bead stores around Maine. Nothing is more inspiring to me than walking into a room that literally sparkles with beads. I frequent my local bead shop, Beads on the Kennebec, about twice a month. The owner is fantastic, and it's located on the historic riverfront in Downtown Augusta, so the building itself has a story to tell. The next closest bead shop is about two hours away, but thanks to this post, I think this month I would like to plan a trip and check it out!

  4. Rebecca
    September 20, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Sadly, we no longer have local bead shops here in Edinburgh – we used to have two and one an hour away but all have closed down in the past few years. There was a bead shop in Belfast which I didn't visit often enough. There is a fantastic bead shop through in Perth – a town north-west of Edinburgh – which I shop at often; Precious Sparkle Beads. Dawn, the NYC-born owner, is a savvy business woman as well as a fantastic lady, and she has moved with the times with her gorgeous shop. She now stocks gorgeous handmade gifts, cards and furniture along with beautiful toys, along with her high-quality gemstones (her specialism), findings and tools etc. I get 95% of my gemstones from there and encourage others nearby to do so also! (Plus she's online when you need beads that way πŸ™‚ ) Great and important challenge Heather!

  5. Heather Wynn Millican
    September 20, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    I love this challenge, Heather! Sadly, we do not have a local bead store but I am thinking that it's a prime opportunity to move to Ediburgh (which is on my bucket list anyway) Lets team up Rebecca πŸ˜‰
    I have been trying to devote more time to blog reading and I always find inspiration perusing Etsy.

  6. Katherine Thompson
    September 20, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    My inspiration right now is a novel that I'm reading. I haven't picked up a novel to read in many…… years. It works out really well because I am alos travelling to Florida with my daughter. We some wht spontaineously (spelling ?) hitched a ridewith them to Florida and will be flying back home. Many firsts for my daughter who is my inspiration of my life.
    I am taking in everything and note taking all that strikes me.

  7. Sharon
    September 21, 2015 at 12:18 am

    I plan on driving to Sedona with a beady friend to garner some inspiration, and beads. Sadly, the bead shops in Prescott AZ have closed.

  8. Linda
    September 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

    I live just 15 minutes from Shipwreck beads, which is like the Costco of bead stores! I am known there, by face recognition if not always by name. As far as small, local stores, ours folded too. There is one that I love that is about 3 hours away in a beautiful Victorian harbor town. I can't travel that far on a monthly basis, but I am known to the owner and visit as often as is feasible.

  9. Lottie me
    September 21, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Fiddlesticks! I just wrote a long post and my computer crashed!

    I get most of my inspiration by following blogs such as these and of those people posting or commenting on here and looking at their blogs and links. I have books that I have bought, but sadly living where I do, there is a famine of shops of any kind! Local towns are small and no bead shops there, so predominantly I buy books and blog hop! I also buy worships on line too, which are so inspiring!

    And of course following this blog religiously and blog hopping the posts on here!

  10. Jan J.
    September 21, 2015 at 7:27 am

    The two bead stores in this area have closed too. I did see a lady a while back at a huge antique show we have in this area that had tables full of interesting beads, and I hope to go to the next one and see if she is still there. I like to haunt Etsy and see what I can find there – some really beautiful artisan beads to be found there!

    I am so inspired by the beads I have seen here and am working on designing some beads in polymer clay, hoping to mimic some lovely ceramic beads I have seen.

  11. ingetraud
    September 21, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I live between Santa Cruz and San Jose and there are still a couple of bead shops in each. I also plan to see if the one in Los Gatos is still there.

  12. Soul Silver
    September 21, 2015 at 8:16 am

    I'm finding a lot of inspiration from audio books, I find myself listening to these more than the radio these days, recently I have listened to beautiful descriptions of the ottoman empire that I want to try and translate into glass or at the very least a colour palette.
    Sadly our nearest bead shops have closed, but I do attend the scottish bead fair twice a year and try to stock up on pretties πŸ˜€

  13. Kristen
    September 21, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I recently went to an art exhibit about Van Gogh and nature. It was a two hour drive and worth every minute. The paintings were amazing and so inspiring!

  14. Sarah
    September 21, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Wow – just reading through the comments it seems like bead stores have folded everywhere! All of mine in Indianapolis have closed too. There is one in Columbus, IN that I visit when I'm down there, but it's not every month. I do try to find bead shops (and knitting stores and stamping stores) when I travel to get inspiration and supplies. I am a member of our art museum and I love that, but most of my inspiration comes from the woods. I don't have any local source of art beads, so I buy online and am learning to make my own. I did splurge on some "bought inspiration" in the form of a metalsmithing class at a local art school. 12 weeks of learning all the basics and making jewelry. Hoot! We're 2 weeks in and I'm loving it. Look out jeweler's saw – here I come! – Sarah

    September 21, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I've recently moved to Paris, and have done just that!
    Hesitant at first, because I don't know the language well enough yet, but I've established a good communication with 2 bead stores already – moreover, a couple of months ago I was elected "creatrice du mois" after submitting a pair of chandelier wore wrapped earrings.
    I'm aiming to take a few classes soon at a third bead shop I've recently discovered.
    Thank you for the lovely giveaway!

    [email protected]

  16. beadrecipes
    September 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    The good bead shops around me have sadly closed in recent years. There is one that I go to for findings and I always find something to buy there, but sadly they don't do artist beads.
    I also like to support the local online shops — yes they sometimes are more expensive than buying from overseas and the range might not be so big, but I'd like their business to do well.
    I do classes a couple of times a year at a not quite so local bead store, and at the annual bead expo and bead show.
    Right now I'm travelling around the US and my husband groans every time I find a bead store. I am finding inspiration in my surroundings, whether that is the beauty of the Grand Canyon or the bright and cheerful fun of Disneyworld.

  17. [email protected]
    September 21, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Rhode Island had two bead shops that have both closed. So sad! I miss the beads but mostly the community. There are a couple in Massachusetts that are close enough for a trip. I do find being in the store a fabulous inspirational experience. Thanks for this challenge. Great idea!
    [email protected]

  18. Alice
    September 21, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    I would love to do the challenge but It would take a 140 mile round trip. So I get my beads Online.

  19. gloria allen
    September 21, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    My Bead store went out of business the owner retired. The bead stores I know about are all in Manhattan. So I guess once a month is doable Heather. I can take up the challenge.

  20. Tami Wiggs
    September 22, 2015 at 1:38 am

    I adore my local bead store Ornamentea in Raleigh, NC. It is my go to place for inspiration. The staff is amazing and so talented. The owner Cynthia makes the shop a place you just want to hang out! Just love it and I feel so lucky to have a great local bead shop so close by. Tami Wiggs

  21. Sarajo Wentling
    September 22, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Isn't Allegory Gallery great? I did some serious damage there when we visited last fall and it looks like you did pretty well for yourself too! I love looking for bead stores when I travel… you never know what treasure you might discover.

    I absolutely take up your challenge, Heather. The store that was my favorite local bead store (and the place I took my first classes and got my start down this crazy beading path) has really gone downhill in recent years… to the point I find it depressing to go there since I remember what it used to be. (VERY few art beads, extremely limited choices for Czech glass, gemstones, etc. Sigh) BUT there are other stores in the greater Twin Cities area that I've never made it too and the tiny one closer to me has actually improved their selection in recent times… so I will use this challenge as a reason to go seek out the other stores in the area and maybe find a new favorite!

  22. Julie Wong Sontag
    September 22, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I love this post! I too think that community is amazing fuel for inspiration – online, yes absolutely – but nothing beats seeing friendly faces and having a real life conversation πŸ™‚

    Inspirationally speaking… I splurged on a class to learn some new skills that are not within my comfort zone, and I'll admit I spend most of the week feeling frustrated about it. But isn't that the way with everything new we learn? You must start somewhere and it feels good to be at the beginning of something new!

    xo — julie

  23. Kathy Lindemer
    September 22, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I splurged on a class taught by you! Best investment that I have made in myself in a while. I learned new techniques and learned about some tools that I need to invest in. I also made a few purchased at Allegory Gallery. I bought a charm to use with one of your cardinals. I have been hanging on to it for awhile and plan to have the necklace ready for a Holiday show. I love buying beads and don't have a lot of access to them in my town so when I travel I always check out where the bead shops are there.

  24. Deb Stewart
    September 23, 2015 at 2:28 am

    Great challenge! I made it to a "local" shop (2 + hours away) two months in a row and it was really fun to chat with the owner about beads. I love getting inspired by posts like these and other's blogs. Etsy is also a great resource not only for inspiration but of course for shopping! Heather you've got me thinking about how I can get to Madison (1 1/2 hours away one way) on a more frequent basis. Road trip! – Deb

  25. Shaiha
    September 23, 2015 at 2:36 am

    The only local bead shop in my area is Shipwreck Beads and personally I wouldn't miss them as a retail shop because their employees are not well trained. The last time I was I ended up helping two groups because they couldn't get any assistance from the employees. And it wasn't even that they were busy except talking to each other. The other bead shops are up in Seattle and I do stop by them when I am up there. I am able to get a lot of ideas and soak in the creativity from them. I just don't make it up there often because of health issues.

  26. Lorie
    September 25, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I frequent my local bead store at least once a month…Dancing Beads in Medford Oregon. Carol Tilton Garfield is the owner & she is a beautiful soft spoken woman who will share her vast knowledge of beads with anyone who asks. I am inspired immediately upon walking through her door.
    I am very grateful to have a place that offers wonderful classes, features local artists jewelry, & has trunk shows featuring local bead vendors & awesome artists from nearby as well as far away places! …just to mention a few of the benefits of my local bead store. Her staff is knowledgeable & so happy to talk with other lovers of all things handmade with passion & childlike enthusiasm.
    This blog post has inspired me to go there this weekend & tell them how fortunate our community is to have them!
    …priceless ~β™‘~

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