Bead Societies

Bead Societies are amazing groups of women and men who like beads and who like to learn and play together. I first heard of them in Carol Wilcox Wells book, Creative Bead Weaving. It took me a couple of years to actually connect with my local group, the Greater Chicagoland Bead Society, and I'm glad I did.

What I saw at my first meeting there was typical for the group. Coffee and snacks were available before the meeting and people clumped around chatting, or looking at a piece of beadwork someone had brought in, or browsing through the Society's library that was spread across tables at one end of the room.

The meeting began with some announcements, requests for volunteers for this and that, and welcoming new folks. Like lots of the larger bead societies, the Chicago group brought in speakers from around the country who presented slide lectures at the meetings. Those same speakers often stayed on to do workshops as well.

Over the course of the year, this particular organization sponsored its own bead show, put on a show and sale of works by members, and held a nice holiday party which included a silent auction of beads and related items and raffles of lovely pieces of beadwork donated by members. Most years there was a Bead Challenge which gave members an interesting way to challenge themselves and inspire all of us when we saw the finished projects from dozens of participants.

In some places, the group may be more of a circle of beaders who meet regularly to share ideas while working on their own projects, rather than a pretty formal organization with officers and newsletters and such. In other places, a bead store will sponsor a group that meets regularly for classes and fun.

If there is a bead club or society of any sort anywhere near you, check it out. Go to a meeting or two. You may find a rich source of ideas, inspiration, knowledge, skills, friendship, and fun.

If there are no groups near you, consider starting one. Lynn Smythe has written a nice article about her experience, "How to Start a Bead Society in Your Free Time."

To find a group near you, try searching Google for "bead society" plus "your state name." You can also find lists of these organizations at various sites, some more up to date than others. Like all organizations, bead groups come and go, so keep looking!

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