Our guide to beading

Our guide to beading

First published date April 02 2014 Amended date April 28 2014

While it’s always nice to treat yourself to a new piece of jewellery and even nicer to be treated with one as a gift, would it not be so much more rewarding and heartfelt if you created your own from scratch? Beading in a modern sense may seem like something more suited to children, but it can actually be a very complex procedure. However, that’s not to say that a beading course won’t be rewarding and fun too!


A bit of history

The word ‘bead’ actually derives from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘bidden’ which means to pray, this links to Catholicism and the rosary beads used for prayer. Beads have been used for numerous things over thousands of years not just for ornamental or decorative purposes.  Since early civilisation, beads were used as a form of currency and were also a symbol of power and class, the more decorative and beautiful your beads were the more powerful and important you appeared to others.


I’ve never done any kind of crafts before

You don’t have to have had any experience of any kind of hand crafts or jewellery making before to be able to take part in a beading course. Most courses are for beginners where everyone is welcome to join in! However, some courses may expect you to have good hand-eye coordination and might ask that you have at least some basic sewing skills, so it’s worth researching the courses properly before booking to see if it suits your skills.


What will a course involve?

Beading courses will have you creating all kinds of beautiful and interesting ornamental pieces. You could be making anything from necklaces to bracelets, pendants or broaches and some courses won’t just be limited to jewellery alone, covering beading on clothing or bags. Either way, courses will give you the opportunity to let your creativity flourish while you learn a new skill.

At beginner level, you will be taken through the various beading techniques and with that newfound knowledge, apply it to making a piece of your own. The piece you make for the majority of courses is yours to take home, with materials included in the course fee. Some other beginner courses might only be a taster session, which may only last a few hours but perfect if you just want to see whether a beading course is up your street for an inexpensive fee.

Some courses are very specific in the technique they may teach whereas others might cover a broader spectrum.

As a beginner, you’ll learn all the fundamentals of the main beading techniques such as bead weaving, (on or off a loom) bead embroidery, bead knitting, bead crochet as well as bead stringing. Though this may be completely new to you, don’t worry, a trained professional will take you through everything at your own pace. More advanced courses may show you more complex techniques, or might encourage you to try more difficult pieces using both basic and advanced techniques too. 

Courses are there for fun and mostly available to book as you go along so there are no long term commitments as such. The majority of classes will take place on either the weekends or weekday evenings so they are flexible to book around your personal life.


What will I gain from a beading course?

Though most courses won’t offer you a formal qualification, there is much to be gained from taking on a beading course that isn’t written on paper. The skills you pick up in sewing and embroidery, for example, will be very handy and may help you in your everyday life not just in beading. Beading courses allow you to be as creative as you please with the only real direction being given in technique rather than design. This will mean everything you make on the course, or at home once you’ve finished a course will be very personal to you as well as friends or family if you choose to make pieces for them as a fantastic and unique gift idea.