Show how funky strong your style is at Bead It. Baskets and bowls of beads cover table after table, while strings of jewelry hang on the wall like sparkling tapestries. Everything is arranged by color or grouped with like items to inspire and create a beautiful house of delicate trinkets.
Visit this South Austin shop to discover a vast array of beads to take home, or stay for a jewelry design class. Classes range from beginner to advanced, but every participant leaves with a creation of their own making.
Bead It Concept
Twelve years ago, Ashley Schor opened Bead It with her sister, Katy. Their parents own one of the largest vintage bead wholesalers in the world, Sandy Schor & Co. Many of Bead It’s pieces come from their huge warehouse in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Seven years ago, Bead It moved to its newly decorated, warm and welcoming home on the corner of S Lamar and Oltorf.
While Ashley was out of town finding treasures at a trade show, I met with Noelle Gage who has been the manager of Bead It for the past four years. Noelle showed me around the beautiful store, introduced me to popular trends and even gave me a wire working lesson.
Vintage chains from the 70’s, gemstones, and fun and colorful Lucite pieces from 1950’s West Germany are some of Noelle’s favorite pieces in the store. While chunky statement pieces are coming back around in style, many jewelry makers are maintaining the “tiny” trend. Thin chains have been hard to keep in stock due to their popularity.
Long necklaces like the mala are also popular items to make. Traditionally, a mala is made with 108 beads and used by Hindus and Buddhists. But Noelle has seen many “fashion malas” inspired by these prayer beads. Woven wrap bracelets, like those made popular by designer Chan Luu, have become popular enough to warrant their own Bead It class.
I was enamored with a table covered in bright plastic cabochons (flat back pieces) from 1930’s Japan. After mentioning this to Noelle, she effortlessly listed all the wearable crafts I could make with them, and I realized how easily Bead It exudes creativity through its knowledgeable staff.
Repair and Redesign
The employees at Bead It are masters at repairs and revisions. Customers often bring in pieces of old costume jewelry to be redesigned. They can combine their piece with other items in the store, or even pick one bead they want their jewelry to be inspired around before letting the Bead It staff take over.
One room at Bead It functions as an open studio. As long as there isn’t a large class or party, anyone can borrow tools and design boards to work on a project in the store. Some people even choose to work on other art projects, like a purse design, while drawing inspiration from Bead It’s items. Those who aren’t keen on beads can sit and wait on their crafty friends in this room and even bring over some wine from nearby Opa to keep them company.
Bead It Classes
Bead It offers small classes with individual attention for all levels of jewelry makers. Beginning Jewelry gives you the basics, such as stringing and attaching clasps and charms, while Silk Knotting teaches you how to string pearls.
More advanced classes include Metal Stamping, Wire Crochet and Design Theory where students are taught to draw inspiration from anywhere, such as photos from National Geographic, while paying attention to color, shape, balance and symmetry.
Classes can be formed for adult birthday parties or bachelorette parties. Each participant can make their own jewelry for the wedding day or just for going out. Parties for children are also offered, and there are regular kids classes held once a month and holiday workshops perfect for creating gifts.
I took the Beginning Wire class with Noelle as my teacher. She demonstrated patience and enthusiasm while teaching me how to create loops with tight wraps and how to link beads to create an appealing design. I proudly wore my necklace out of the store and tried to make sure everyone noticed it when I went to the grocery store later that day.
Bead It uses a basket system. Customers label the price on a small bag and fill it with as many of that particular bead as they want. When creating jewelry from scratch, customers can use a design board to lay out their pattern.
The store is located at 2058 S Lamar with a small parking lot out front. Hours are 11-7 PM Monday-Saturday and 1-6 PM on Sundays. Give yourself plenty of time to look through all the wonderful jewels!
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