TierraCast Tour

One of my first purchases from an official bead store was in the mid 1990’s, at a bead store in Cambridge, MA. It was a small antique silver plated goddess charm by TierraCast. I still own that charm as at the time it was just too special to actually use. Across the country in Berkeley, CA Jim & Lisa Kaufman’s bead store, Baubles & Beads, was in its infancy, and Julia, our current store manager, was a high school student who shopped at their store. None of us knew one another, we were all just beaders who could never imagine that nearly two decades later we would all be working together at Baubles & Beads and going on a field trip tour the TierraCast facilities. TCI-Logo-WebChances are if you have ever made jewelry with base metal beads or components you too have introduced TierraCast products into your own collection. It was with great pleasure and much anticipation we were given the opportunity to tour the factory and learn more about the production of those fabulous finds and meet the people who create them.

We were met by Julia wearing a fabulous ring made by Tania Skevos, a former store manager of Baubles & Beads who is now quite famous.

We were met by Julie who wearing a fabulous ring made by Tania Skevos, a former store manager of Baubles & Beads who is now quite famous.

Upon our arrival we met up with Julie, our ambassador for the day. Her bubbly enthusiasm immediately struck a chord with us as we too are excited to share the story of growth and change of another small business.

Meet Tracy, she is TierraCast's marketing guru.

Meet Tracy, she is TierraCast’s jewelry designer and marketing maven.

She began by introducing us to several people we had interacted with on the phone, through email, and whose names we’d recognize from years of doing business together.

Alan Joseph, one of the company owners and product designer, was our tour guide and he guided us through the entire impressive compound, in order of production from design idea to finished piece. Every piece is made under the same house except for the plating including: design, production, manufacturing, sales, and marketing.

Digital rendering meet the finished piece.

Digital rendering meet the finished piece.

Alan works entirely through graphic design templates on his computer when designing the beautiful and detailed signature TierraCast pieces. He has a background in fine art, so the process starts with that in mind. The products go through rigorous testing periods before they make it to you, the beader. Only 1 in 10 design ideas actually make it into the product line.Scotts BenchAfter all design specifics have been developed digitally he then hands the work off to his team of metalsmith geniuses to begin the task of making a model.  Above is a picture of Scott’s bench, he trained at Tiffany. Be sure to zoom in on the pic to get a good look at all his tools. The window directly in front of his bench looks out to a tranquil garden setting, now that’s what we call a good day’s work! microscopePerfection is required, evident by the microscope in the room. Once the piece has gone through the intensive and fastidious design process, they begin production by making a mold.stackofmoldsMolds are made by pressing silicone in a steel plate that is heated. We were impressed by the organization in the mold making room. Notice in the background of the photo above how the finished molds are arranged. There is a whole back room filled with molds.MoldsEach mold only has a lifespan of about 300 uses. The mold maker was on vacation the day of our tour. He just celebrated 25 years at TierraCast. Definitely a sign of a good company to work for.pewtersolidTierraCast excels in the use high quality pewter. The standard for lead content in culinary pewter is 500ppm. TierraCast uses a pewter alloy called Britannia that contains lead in the minute level of less than 100 ppm. Most pieces have about 25-35ppm of lead content.MoltenMetalWe step over to the next room and find a vat of molten metal next to the casting machine. casterWomanRocksThe caster pours the molten metal into the opening of the mold located in a centrifuge. Centrifugal force pushes the molten metal evenly throughout the mold making for consistent results. Angela, the caster pictured above is one of the fastest casters at TierraCast.buttonsOnATreeOnce the caster has produced a large quantity of product they then simply break the pieces off the “tree”. It is a testament to the fine craftsmanship of the mold maker that no hand finishing is required after removing the product from the tree.removalofbeadsHow dreamy that the day we visited they were casting one of our best-selling items: the Buddha Bead.  A short walk away is another building that houses the finishing room.HomemadeTumblerMy little Lortone tumbler is nothing compared to TierraCast’s homemade version. These drums are filled with cast pieces and different tumbling media to help quickly remove any burrs or imperfections. Once the pieces are tumbled they are sent off-site to be plated. Plating is the only process that does not happen in-house. Upon return from the plater, TierraCast applies chemical antiquing as needed.fillingorders

When we opened the door to the order fulfillment office a blast of cold air struck us; a true sign of women working in here. This room was filled with drawer after drawer of beads, charms, pendants, bails, button, findings, clasps, earwires, oh my gosh I can’t list all of the wonder inside. Sorry the pic so so fuzzy but those ladies work fast!! julieandlisaThe conclusion of our tour left us time for photo ops with each other. Above is one of myself and Julie. We all know Julie well as she has been TierraCast’s sales rep for a long time. We often meet up at the bead shows in Tucson and Milwaukee. lkandjulieNext up is Lisa Kaufman , co-owner of Baubles & Beads, and Julie. Have we mentioned how fun Julie is?organizationAnd to finish us off we have Julia, our store manager, loving the tidiness of the entire place. Interestingly enough, between three of us photographing our tour, Jim Kaufman (the incredibly handsome co-owner of Baubles & Beads) never made it into any of our photos.


Instructor Interview- Kate Richbourg

Q & A with (the amazing) Kate Richbourg


The famous & fabulous Kate!

Emily Miller, Baubles & Beads Class Director, interviews Kate Richbourg, one of our instructors here at the bead store. Kate is an educator, a maker, a new author, and jeweler.

EM: Kate, you wear a lot of hats, which is your favorite?

Kate: Well, my favorite hat (when not wearing an actual hat) is teaching. This my is 22nd year of teaching and helping students continue on their journey.

EM: When did you get started making jewelry and did you have a mentor?

Kate: I pretty much always made jewelry, my Gran had a box of junk jewelry and I played with that, of course with no special materials, stringing with dental floss! I was very lucky that my Mom and Gran were my early creative mentors; they put me on the road to doing something creative. In 1992 I got a job at bead store, selling beads, which led me to teaching. I started teaching at Baubles & Beads in 1993-94. Lisa Kaufman [the owner of Baubles & Beads] was instrumental at offering me opportunities to teach new classes. In the beginning, stores were big part of classes.

Check out Kate's Tube Setting class this summer at the store.

Check out Kate’s Tube Setting class this summer at the store.

EM: Was there a particular technique that was difficult to master?

Kate: When I got started there was not a lot of info out there, so I’m self taught. I’ve taken only a couple of bead classes. I didn’t know what was hard or what was easy. The first book I bought was The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight, it taught me a lot, it was my general teacher. I still refer to it regularly when stuck.

Kate in action while teaching a class.

Kate in action while teaching a class.

EM: Do you have a teaching philosophy?

Kate: Usually when you think about creating classes, you might think who is the class for? Beginners, intermediates or advanced students? I can take beginners to intermediate level in class by just jumping in and starting. At the end they say, “I made that!” There are no limits to what you can learn. I like to share lots of tips, some that might be advanced, but without telling them it’s advanced.

EM: What makes you happiest about teaching?

Kate: Part of it is a community of like-minded people. Creating with your peers is always fun; taking time to be creative while in class I get a lot of ideas of what to do next. The interchange between teacher and students as well as student to student.

EM: What essential items does your studio have?

Kate: My favorite thing right now is a rolling mill. I love to hammer, texture and flatten. The rolling mill makes me super efficient to shape and flatten, a lot easier than I could do by hand.

Tools are Kate's friends

Tools are Kate’s friends.

EM: What is your favorite material?

Kate: Well, that’s a loaded question… whatever material I’m working with at the time. Metal…then the first and original material, beads. A tie between metal and beads.

Kate's book is a fantastic entry level book into the world of soldering but even seasoned metalsmiths will discover helpful tips and hints.

Kate’s book is a fantastic entry level book into the world of soldering but even seasoned metalsmiths will discover helpful tips and hints.

EM: After a long day of teaching, what do you do to relax?

Kate: Put my feet up on the coffee table. Teaching takes so much out of you but is invigorating too. I sit and reflect, remember people’s names and projects. Sort of like a meditation, over what went well or could be improved.

EM: Predict something about the coming year in jewelry making and design, where do you see the next big trend?

Kate: I think that now that people are learning so many types of jewelry making, beading, metal, wire, putting all those techniques together in one piece. Distilling what students have learned into one piece. Metal is still strong. It’s interesting how fiber is coming into jewelry, fiber and unconventional materials in jewelry is pretty cool.

EM: If we could see a picture of your bench, what are you working on right now?

Kate: Right now I’m working on some chain necklaces. I’m preparing for an online class, so lots of chain, the simple loops and how to put it together. All chain, all the time, right now.


Work in progress.

EM: What else do you make besides jewelry?

Kate: Oh my gosh, I knit, sew, quilt, make a mess, I’ve been sewing and knitting since I was a little girl, it keeps my hands busy.

EM: Will you share your favorite quotation?

Kate: Yes, here in my studio I have some quotes on my wall. My favorite, favorite one is:
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein.


Inspirational quote.

EM: If you could go back in time to any era, which one and why?

Kate: I’m conflicted about going back or forward in time. The 20’s were this zany pause between the world wars where there was a lot of creativity: writing, art and I love the fashion. I’d love to see where we are in 100 years too.


Like Kate, beads will never go out of style!

EM: What do you want to learn next?

Kate: Oh my gosh, I really want to learn how to engrave. I don’t know why. When you pick up a piece of old jewelry and see the hand engraving it’s just beautiful. I just picked up an ebook copy of an old book from the turn of the 20th century about hand engraving.

EM: Thank you Kate, for a great peek into your world!

Kate has been teaching jewelry for decades yet she always manages to bring us new ideas and products to play with. Check out her video below from Craftsy about how to use a torch (safely).

Connect with and learn more about Kate by visiting her blog:

Check out her blog: We Can Make That at Home

January’s Birthstone -Garnet

January’s Birthstone: Garnet
Zodiac stone
Capricorn December 22-January 20: Garnet
Aquarius January 21- February 19: Amethyst
The 2nd Anniversary Stone

Almadine garnet beads

Almadine garnet beads

January is the only month with no alternate birthstone, but Garnet more than makes up for this with a wide color spectrum of stones. There are 7 main types of Garnet, almandine (deep red to purple), andradite (red, yellow, brown, green or black), demantoid (green to yellowish green or blue green), grossularite (green, brown, red, yellow), pyrope (deep red to black), spessarite (orange yellow), uvarovite (bright green). Garnets posses nearly identical physical properties despite all the differences in color, garnets are neosilicates, with a differing mineral producing each color. Relatively high on the Mohs scale, 6.5-7.5 garnets are well suited to faceting and setting in jewelry. The harder stones are also used as commercial abrasives, from sandpaper to use in highly compressed air that cuts steel. Widely mined around the world many locations are known for particular colors or types. Australia, India, Madagascar, Namibia, Italy, Iran, United States, are all current commercial producers. Russia, once a strong producer of demantoid garnets, a favorite of the designer Faberge now only produces a very small amount. Eastern Europe was an early source, with much of the cutting and shaping done in Bohemia. Garnets cut for gemstones are not usually treated, although it is common to see dyed garnet material used for beads.

Green grossularite garnets

Green grossularite garnets

Garnet gets its name from ‘granataum’ meaning seed, refers to the similarity to a pomegrante seed. Ancient Romans used garnet in inlay work. Garnets are reputed to be the stones of truth, friendship, faithfulness, commitment, and insight. Given as a friendship gift and worn into battle by soldiers, garnets are especially good for problems with the blood, lungs, preventing and curing infection. The red color garnet is a symbol of love and enhances sensuality.

Spessarite or Hessanite garnets in an orange yellow color.

Spessarite or Hessonite garnets in an orange yellow color.

Use these garnets in your designs-
Depending on the color chosen, garnets can be used in many different designs. Red garnets mixed with gold are an especially rich mixture, adding black garnets, spinel or onyx would increase the dramatic flare. Green garnets are also attractive mixed with gold or add a sparkly quality to other earthy green stones. Rich orange or yellow garnets would be accented with silver, or mixed with warm tones of pearls, amber or natural mother of pearl.

December’s Birthstone -Turquoise

December’s Birthstone: Turquoise
Alternate Stones: Tanzanite & Zircon
Zodiac stones
Sagittarius November 23- December 2: Turquoise
Capricorn December 22-January 20: Garnet
The 11th Anniversary stone


Turquoise Beads

Like many gemstones, turquoise comes in a variety of colors, from nearly white, through light blues, to deep sky or robin’s egg blue to earthy greens and yellow. Native Americans described it as ‘fallen sky stone’ and many domed roofs in Iran are sheathed in turquoise symbolizing ‘heaven on earth’. Bright sky blue with no inclusions, and consistent color is highly prized. Turquoise gets its name from a French translation of Pierre tourques meaning stone from Turkey.  Turquoise is a cryptocrystalline mineral that very rarely forms in a crystal shape. It is formed over time by the percolating of acidic solutions of weathered minerals and metals like copper, aluminum, and phosphorus. It measures a 6 on the Mohs’ scale, therefore turquoise is a softer stone so is often shaped into cabochons, beads and extensively used in inlay.

Turquoise was one of the first stones to be mined, Turkey and Persia (now Iran) were traditional sources of European turquoise. These sources are now depleted and only mined seasonally by small family ventures. The larger deposits of commercial turquoise are found in the southwest of the US, primarily, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Different colors and qualities are produced in each area, leading to distinct types of turquoise names, Kingman, Sleeping Beauty, or Bisbee. Arid regions are associated with turquoise deposits; mines exist in China, Afghanistan, Australia, Chile, and northern India.

Turquoise beads.

Turquoise beads.

Turquoise has long been associated with treatments applied to enhance the color and durability of the stone. In Egypt the desire for a more durable blue colored material lead to the development of faience, a glaze for pottery and a precursor to glass. Turquoise may be stabilized to enhance lower grade more fractured material and dyed to improve the color.  Simple oiled or waxed treatments are considered acceptable since it has a very low impact on the stone. Reconstituted material, ground fine then added to resin and re-cut after hardening is the lowest grade. Synthetic Gilson turquoise from the 1970’s is even collectible!

Reputed to take on the persona of the person who wears it, turquoise is often associated with truth and wisdom, in many cultures it is also a stone of success.Turquoise may help with symptoms of rheumatism gout, stomach issues, and viruses. Increases growth, anti-inflammatory and a detoxifier. Especially noted as a protection against falls.  It is a stone of protection, worn by warriors, kings and shamans.

Using Turquoise in your jewelry designs-

Depending on the color of turquoise chosen there are many stones that work well with the blue-green color stones. Native Americans mix turquoise with other opaque stones, like coral, malachite, onyx, sugilite, and lapis. The most common metal for mixing with turquoise is silver, both bright and oxidized. Bright blue stones would be striking wire wrapped on gold wire, or mixed with pyrite, golden pearls or amber. Olive green or heavily veined beads would lovely added to a darker brown stone like tiger’s eye.

November’s Birthstone -Topaz and Citrine

Alternate Birthstone: Citrine
Ancient birthstone: Topaz & pearl
Zodiac stones for Scorpio October 24-November 21: Beryl
Sagittarius November 22-December 21: Topaz
The 4th anniversary stone

London Blue Topaz Beads (top) Imperial Topaz Beads (bottom)

London Blue Topaz Beads (top)
Imperial Topaz Beads (bottom)


Topaz comes in a rich rainbow of colors: white, yellow, purple, blue, pink, and orange. The most desirable Imperial Topaz has an orange color with pink under tones. Topaz gets its name from the old French word, ‘topace’ and Latin, Topazus. The name is also related to the Sanskrit word, “tapas” meaning heat or fire and the Hebrew word, tapooz the orange fruit. Topaz measures 8 on the Moh’s hardness scale making topaz a hard stone. This hardness results in very crisp and sparkly facets in gem quality stones. Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminum and fluorine. Trace amounts of other minerals create the wide color varieties. Naturally occurring blue or pink topaz is quite rare, less colorful stones are heat-treated and irradiated to enhance or create darker blue stones. Mystic topaz is coated to give it a rainbow effect.  Topaz is found in many locations around the world, the Urals, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Western Europe, South America, Africa, and Australia and in the United States in Utah. Topaz is thought to aid in problems of the mind, mental issues, assist in mental acuity, as well as a talisman against sudden death. It has been used by royalty and in religious decorations from the Middle Ages.


Citrine Beads


A golden variant of quartz, citrine ranges in color from pale yellows to brownish orange and can actually be amethyst that has been heat-treated! Like amethyst, citrine is rated a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. Citrine takes a fine polish and is readily cut into faceted stones for jewelry or beads. Natural citrine is quite rare, and can be expensive. Telling the difference between natural and heat-treated stones is difficult, assume most lower quality and price stones are heat-treated. Like all quartz family members, citrine can be found in South America, the United States and some high quality stones come from Norway. Citrine is known as the ‘shopkeepers stone’ and is said to attract wealth and success. It’s golden color is a sunny optimistic mood enhancer, drawing a flow of energy to improve digestion and physical endurance.

Using Topaz and Citrine in your jewelry

Depending on the color of topaz, matching it with gold or silver is a designers dilemma, the cool of blue topaz certainly lends itself to it bright silver beads or wire, the warm tones lean off towards gold, especially vermeil, as its rich gold tone will enhance the topaz. The clear and sparkly nature of topaz should perk up any design.

Citrine with its brighter yellow hue is a wonderful accompaniment to cool stones like grey moonstone, labradorite, and of course its cousin amethyst. Try knotting very pale citrine on yellow silk to enhance the color from within. Darker brown citrine is a good match for amber, adding a polished contrast to amber’s matte finish.

Baubles & Beads Design Team REVEAL 9/18 and GIVEAWAY

Comments are closed!! We will post a winner shortly!

We are excited! It’s time for the first EVER Baubles & Beads Design Team Reveal. We are so pleased that our talented team has worked so hard to create some fantastic pieces. We have received a few sneak peek photos from our participants and want to share a teaser with you.


They look so cool even in their masked state, right?? We think so, too. The reveal is Wednesday, September 18th and you can find each post on the designer’s blogs listed below. Click on over and check out what they made AND you’ll find a special discount coupon code for our online store as well.

We had so many comments from readers about how much they loved the kit that we sent out to our Design Team, that we thought we would celebrate by having a little giveaway as well.


Photo courtesy of Lori Anderson

One lucky reader of our Bead Shop Girl Blog will win a design team bead pack. It’s exactly like the one pictured above that we sent to team member Lori Anderson.

If you’d like to win, just leave a comment below on our blog and we will pick one winner at random on Wednesday, September 25 and announce it here on the blog.

Thanks so much Team! You are amazing and talented and we are so exited that you liked your challenge pieces. Look for our next team challenge after the beginning of the year, but for now here is the list of the entire team, with photos. Click through to each Design Team Member to see their entire posts. So much inspiration. Enjoy checking it out!

Click here to see Jean’s entire post.

Jean Yates

Click here to see Erin’s entire post

Erin Prais-Hintz

Click here to see Michelle’s entire post.

Michelle Mach

Click to see Keirsten’s entire post.

Keirsten Giles

Click here to see Lori’s entire post.

Lori Anderson

Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp** Marie got her beads just a trifle late, her post will be up soon!

July’s Birthstone -Ruby

July Birthstone: Ruby
Ancient birthstones: Turquoise, Onyx
Zodiac Sign: Cancer June 21 – July 22
Zodiac Stone: Emerald
15th and 40th Anniversary stone

Smooth and faceted ruby beads.

Smooth and faceted ruby beads.

Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum, an aluminum oxide mineral, with chromium responsible for its rich, red color. Rubies are harder than all other stones except diamond; registering a 9.0 on the Mohs hardness scale. As a durable stone it is suitable for everyday wear and set in a variety of jewelry, such as rings, pendants and earrings. Ruby beads are usually made from stones that have lower transparency but still show the medium red to slightly purplish red that is most desired. Large size rubies are especially rare. They are highly sought after and come from the mining areas of Burma and Thailand.

Rubies are a stone of passion; as the red color signifies the rule of the heart, wear rubies as a guard against psychic attacks and overly amorous desires. Rubies are said to cure bleeding and make warriors brave and invincible.

Turquoise beads.

Turquoise beads.

For those looking for a different take on the traditional, the ancient birthstones for July, turquoise and onyx, offer radically different colors. Sky blue turquoise has been sought after from ancient times, in the Middle East to the Americas. The blue color can range from a bright shade of blue to green depending on the copper content. Turquoise is a softer stone and usually cut for cabochons or beads. Onyx is a black version of chalcedony, sometimes variegated with stripes, it is prized for cutting both faceted and carved stones for jewelry. Usually dyed to enhance the dark color, black onyx takes a fine polish for a highly reflective surface.

Onyx beads.

Onyx beads.

Using rubies, turquoise and onyx in your jewelry adds so many options! The red of rubies works well with the warmth of gold, so mixing with gold beads is a sure bet. As rubies can be colored into the reddish purple color range adding a cool color like gray pearls may be a good match. Turquoise blends well across the color wheel, looking wonderful with the orange-red of coral or carnelian, and also with its closer neighbors like the cool-green amazonite. Traditional Native American’s use turquoise with silver, but mix in gold for a striking contrast. Onyx beads have a marvelous rich black color, a modern mix of color might be to mix them with opaque white agate, or with striped onyx beads. Black pearls and onyx would present a subtle mix, with the nacre of the pearls in contrast with the gloss of onyx.

May’s Birthstone -Emerald

May Birthstone: Emerald
Alternate birthstones for May: Agate and Chrysoprase
Ancient birthstone for May: Agate
Zodiac signs for May:
Taurus April 21-May 2 Emerald
Gemini May 22-June 21 Agate
Traditional stone for 55th wedding anniversary

An exquisite emerald cut in the traditional "Emerald Cut".

An exquisite emerald cut in the traditional “Emerald Cut”.

Those with a May birthday have one of the most costly, valuable, and rare birthstones, Emerald. A member of the beryl family, Emerald is colored green with chromium, vanadiam and iron, small inclusions are acceptable and do not weigh against the quality of the stone. The green color of the best quality stones is described as ‘new wet grass after a rain’. Emeralds are a difficult stone to cut, while hard 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, they can be brittle and any inclusions can cause the stone to chip while being cut and polished.  Emeralds also lend their name to a particular cut of gemstones, the rectangular stepped cut called the ‘emerald cut’, which focuses on increasing the depth of color rather than the brilliance of a stone. Emeralds a commonly ‘oiled’ which is a process of submerging the stone in mineral or other oils to deepen the color and help minimize the appearance of inclusions. Emerald beads are available, but mostly are made of less desirable material.

Emeralds are found in several places around the world, often in mica schists within granite deposits. Formed under pressure, emeralds often pick up bits of stone or bubbles that give each stone a unique ‘fingerprint’ of inclusions. They can be found in streams and riverbeds, carried to the surface from deeper deposits. In antiquity emeralds were mined in Egypt, the Cleopatra mines are the best known in that area. Modern mines are focused in Columbia, Brazil and South Africa, with smaller mines in India, Pakistan, Russia, and even North Carolina in the US. Emeralds have long been purported to have mystical qualities, ancient beliefs included protection from poison, a restorative to eyesight, to bring luck, success and youthfulness. 


Apple green chrysoprase beads.

Not an emerald fan, but born in May? Two alternate birthstones may satisfy the Taurus or Gemini. Chrysoprase and agate are less precious than emerald, but no less beautiful! Chrysoprase is an apple green variation of chalcedony, colored by a small amount of nickel. Fairly rare, Chrysoprase is used primarily in jewelry, cut in cabochons or beads. Chrysoprase is used to balance the yin and yang and in India to help mend a broken heart. Chrysoprase and agate share a connection of structure, both being made of crystals so tiny, they are classified as micro-crystalline. Agate, a chalcedony quartz that forms in layers, is well-known for its beautiful stripes and bands that take on the appearance of tree rings, eyes, loops and scallops. Agate is used for many decorative objects, bowls, cameos, carvings as well as beads and jewelry. Used since ancient times for carved talismans, agate is a protective stone, especially helpful to promote rich and varied dreams.


Banded and striped agate beads.

 Working with emeralds, chrysoprase and agate in your jewelry adds so much color and dimension! Mix emeralds with gold as the richness of gold sets off the true green of emeralds. Want the color without the high price tag? Use Swarovski emerald-green crystal beads, all of the color, made affordable! Chrysoprase’s apple green also cries out for luscious gold, but also try oxidized silver and gunmetal to deepen the contrast without adding much color. Agates with swirls and stripes of black, gray and white mix well with other beads in similar color ranges, gray moonstone, onyx, and light gray or ivory pearls.

Storage Tips & Tricks from the Bead Store

Storing Your Beads

It all starts out so innocently: a quick gift here, a special pair of earrings there, a few classes, lots of small ziplock bags with cryptic codes written on them. Pretty soon you have beads everywhere. Storing your beads and supplies can be a tough problem to tackle. Everyone likes to be organized, but the creative side likes the chaos of materials spread around the work table for inspiration. One may even feel pressure from various co-habitants if your ‘studio’ occupies the same space as the kitchen table, or even (gasp, I know!) the same room as the television. So, take some Tips & Tricks from the Bead Store to help keep your beads in order.

Keep beads on the strand as long as possible. 

Many glass beads and virtually all the semi-precious stone beads are sold on a strand. Remove only the beads you need for each design. This trick aids in counting how many you have left over and the length of beads left unused. Tie a slip knot at the end of the strand or use a bit of tape so that removing beads later is easy. Keep the price tag on the strand for future reference.


Store like with like. 

It’s a drag to hunt all over for your findings, or a chain or a particular bead. At the Bead Store we keep like items together: findings all in one place, glass beads together, pearls and stone beads in yet another section. From a visual point of view, use the rainbow of color to store similar colored items together. Can’t remember the order of the rainbow? Think Roy G Biv; Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, followed by black and white.


These ‘tic tac’ style boxes are great for small items. They are clear and come in a hinged case to keep them together.

Pick an organizing strategy and stick with it!

As long as it works for you, it’s okay; everyone has different needs and space. Avoid a systems that limit growth or have too many boxes in boxes as it is hard to see what you have.  At the Bead Store we use clear plastic shoe boxes to store our extra beads; making it easy to see what’s inside at a glance. Plus they stack together and can be labeled easily.


Now, go play with your beads!

We’d love for you to share your own personal storage tips & tricks. Feel free to comment on what works, or doesn’t, for you!

Get to Know Bead Shop Girl

There are many of us who make up Bead Shop Girl. Our collective knowledge of beads and techniques is something to be proud of. When you visit our store we will make every attempt to share our knowledge and revel in the wonder of beads.



When you visit our store be sure to check out the baubles on Caitlin. Her vintage style and mix of unique materials is an inspiration to all. Caitlin joined our staff in 2013 bringing with her years of jewelry making know-how.



Known for her infections laugh and unstoppable smile, Heather is one of our senior staff members.  She has been a part of the Baubles and Beads family since 2002!  Ask Heather about anything at all and she will answer all your questions and brighten your day at the same time.  Her favorite techniques include wire wrapping and pearl knotting, and you can usually see her wearing some of her own handmade jewelry using one of those two techniques. She first started making jewelry in 1st grade with her best friend but it became a career in 2002 when she was fresh out of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.



Have you ever had something repaired at Baubles & Beads? Chances are it was Jude who worked her magic to fix it!  Having been here since 2006, there is no repair or problem too big for her to tackle.  In her own time she makes beautiful, delicate and intricate jewelry, incorporating lots of stones and tiny wire wraps.  Ask her for help with all that jewelry you’ve been meaning to fix for years and she won’t let you down.



Every time you order something on our web store it goes straight to the desk of Shannon.  Shannon joined Baubles & Beads in 2010 and she knows the lay of the land here at the store.  If you have any questions about ordering from us online, she’s your girl.  Not able to make it into the store to ask your web related questions? That’s fine! Just give Shannon a call and she will make sure your order gets filled and shipped in lightning speed.



 Amara has been with us for over 4 years. This girl knows her colors and is excellent at giving customers that little tip helps finish their designs. Although she loves picking up new jewelry making skills she enjoys soldering the most as it provides the most challenge for her.

Lisa C.

Lisa C.

Lisa has been a fixture at Baubles and Beads since 1997.  While she used to be the manager of the Berkeley store, she took some time off to redirect her career toward teaching wire & design at many of the national bead shows. After her beader in training was born, she once again redirected her career back with baubles & Beads as our webmaster and social media director.  Lisa continues to act as one of our regular instructors, teaching basic techniques as well as many of her original wire designs.

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