• Newsletter

    A Shout-out to BeadFX and Wonderful Article

    A Quick Shout-Out to BeadFX

    We’re all aware of the amazing content we come across on a daily basis from other beaders, companies, and artists. Here at the GRBS, we saw a blog post by BeadFX that we thought would be helpful to many of our Members. It was posted to our Facebook site, but we thought it worth mentioning here. 

    It’s called Beads ‘n’ Sequins, Sequins ‘n’ Beads, and you can read all about it by clicking on the link. 

    Also don’t forget to check out more articles at the BeadFX Blog and their Store for supplies. 

  • Newsletter

    Design Insights ~ A Life’s Journey

    Design Insights~ A Life's Journey

    Canada Beading Supply in partnership with the Grand River Bead Society and the Toronto Bead Society is sponsoring a Zoom presentation on Wednesday March 15, 2023 at 7pm with World renowned bead artist Virginia Blakelock. She will be covering her journey as a bead artist and sharing design insights she has learned along the way.

    Virginia Blakelock

    Virginia has been beading since she was a child beginning with an “Indian Bead Loom” kit. Her horizons were expanded at age 13 when she lived in West Pakistan for four years where there was a bead stall in the local market. After Art School and a move to Oregon, she encountered beads once again and decided in 1973 to concentrate her artistic pursuits on beading. 

    A major impetus to her career was a 1988 Threads magazine article about her career with beautiful photos of her amazing work. Her Moth necklace was particularly impressive. That article generated the greatest response of any article in Threads up to that point. This prompted her a year later, to self-publish the book “Those Bad, Bad Beads”. It was the first book in decades that provided information about working with seed beads. Virginia inspired a number of people such as Carole Wilcox and Diane Fitzgerald who then went on to become famous themselves.

    Virginia and her business partner Carol Perrenoud founded Bead Cats, Inc (also known as the Synergetics, Inc. Bead store.) They had one of the first mail-order bead businesses in North America. Since there were not many Bead Stores in the 1980’s, the two women toured the country in a 1975 Cadillac limousine making beads available to a growing number of enthusiasts as well as teaching. 

    This talk is not going to be just about her journey. Virginia says “Designing with beads is not easy, and I have made a LOT of really, really ugly things. I still struggle with coming up with colour combinations that I like. Beads are not at all like pigments you place on a canvas or sheet of paper. They are like glass, they live with the light, and seeing how they look “en masse” (together,) is usually not at all how they look when individual beads are placed together. How often have you been disappointed when what seemed like a great design, with great colours, fell completely on it’s face?

    “There are some basic premises that govern the interplay of glass types (e.g.. opaque vs transparent) with surface finishes (e.g.. AB, matte, etc.)  When I realized this, I began teaching classes in which each student made a sample with the same design and colours, but with different types of glass and surface finishes. Then, we talked about how the beads behaved. Did the beads support the design or sabotage it? Using my work and class samples I will share my design insights with you, as I tell the story of my life’s journey as a bead artist. I hope you will come away from this presentation with new eyes for your own work.” 

  • Newsletter

    Gemstones can be made?

    Gemstones can be made?

    Whoa! Hold up, what are we talking about here? Gemstones come from the ground, you dig them up, cut them, polish them and string or wrap them. Now you’re saying they can be made? Yes, that’s right, you heard correctly: Gemstones can be made, and it’s quite clever too. Have you ever wondered why you see gemstones in a store and they seem so expensive, but then in another store they’re almost unbelievably affordable? Chances are they lower priced ones are man/lab-made. 

    First of all, what is a synthetic or man-made gemstone? They are gemstones that are created in a lab instead of digging them out the ground.  They are called lab-grown or man-made. Simulant stones are made to look like a real gemstone. They are created from different minerals and could even contain the same mineral material as the stones they are trying to emulate. There is also another category of man-made  gemstones known as Fake gemstones which are lower in natural materials, quality, and price.

    How can I tell which one is which?

    Lab created stones are the hardest to tell. There are however, ways to tell with just the naked eye or a tool called a loupe. Let’s look at them now.

    1. The quality of a lab made gemstones will be unrealistically high. So the cracks and inclusions you’d expect to find in a natural gemstone won’t be present. Remember if you think you’re finding what looks like a flawless 10ct diamond for $1 a piece it’s probably lab made and not the real thing. 
    2. Colour. The colour on lab made gemstones is very rich, and in some cases deep. It’s like finding the gemstone in the colour you expect it to be in, but it’s such an intense colour you can’t believe it. 

    An example of lab made vs natural is Diamonds. Often people use the lab made diamonds instead of the natural ones because they’re brilliant with their clarity and size, and often more affordable. 

    It can sometimes be hard to to figure out. A sure-fire way (if you have the time and an excellent eye) is to look for the serial number (yes, just like on your phone, or cable box.) Lab made gemstones have serial numbers on them…often in print smaller than fine print, but we promise it’s there. It’s one way governments stop sellers from passing off lab made as authentic gemstones. 

    Interesting fact: Lab made stones are often made up of minuscule amounts of the natural stone. It’s how they’re “grown.”

    Simulant stones look very much like the real thing, but they don’t contain any of the mineral in the natural stone they are emulating. Prices for these are very low. You can’t tell the difference between natural and synthetic with the naked eye. 

    Two examples of these stones are Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite. They can both easily be exchanged for a natural diamond with the naked eye. With a loupe however, you can check them and find they have no inclusions. 

    The most common simulant stones you’ll find are:

    • Diamonds
    • Sapphires
    • Rubies

    These kinds of stones have been in existence since the 1800’s. Geneva rubies appeared in 1885. 

    To determine if it’s synthetic or natural, you can use a a heat test.  A flame from a lighter held against a simulant stone will cause it to melt. 

    The final kind of stone is known as the Fake Gemstone. These are the worst of the bunch.

    They are usually sold by crooked dealers. There is no real gemstone material in these at all. Commonly they are made out of glass that’s been coloured to look like the gemstone they are supposed to be. 

    a 10x loupe reveals bubbles in the “stone” which shows it’s just glass. These are never a good deal no matter the price. 

    So what are some adavantages to to using lab/man-made gemstones?

    1. A lot of gemstones are still being mined in dangerous ways’ that exploit the workers who look for them. Blood Diamonds are a good example of this. They usually fund bad practices with governments in many underdeveloped countries. So buying lab/man-made gemstones would be a better choice for your money instead.

    2. Colour matching.  Gemstones usually make up a large part of the design because of their colour. Lab grown or simulant gemstones hold their colour better than a natural stone and they often come in more shades. Most of the lab grown stones look like the imagined colour for natural gemstones. They are also flawless unlike natural gemstones.

    3. Price. This is the last advantage for lab/man-made gemstones. They are more likely to be within the jewelers budget , whereas Natural gems are very expensive because of all the work involved in obtaining them. Lab/man-made gemstones are about 1/3 of the price. 

    So which is better?

    Well…that depends on you. The main thing to take from is blog is that lab/man-made stones are quite similar to natural stones. They’re just grown in a lab instead of the earth. Synthetic stones are good in a pinch, and be aware of shady sellers trying to pass glass off to you. 

    As always, looking forward to getting ideas for article topics from your curious minds. See you in the April edition!

  • Newsletter

    Bijoux for the Theater- Tami MacDonald

    Bijoux for the Theater

    In February, we had an extrodinary presentation by Tami MacDonald from the Stratford Festival Theater. 

    She gave a presentation on the Stratford Festival Bijoux department and all it entails. 

    Tami MacDonald

    Tami’s education is based in Fashion, with a strong desire to continue educating herself in different mediums and crafts. This led to a natural fit into her department at the Theater and her dream job!

  • Newsletter

    Let’s Get Knotty Together

    Let's Get Knotty Together

    This Article is going to be Knotty.

    That’s right we are going to explore the most popular knots for jewellery making. Knots are very important for jewellery making. Using the correct knot can keep your jewellery from coming apart. It also helps enhance your jewellery piece. There are several factors to take into consideration before trying knots. These are:

    1. The stringing material.
    2. Strength of the thread or cord need for the beads being used
    3. Length of the thread or cord for your project.

    There is nothing worse than running out of thread or cord in the midst of a project.

    Now let’s take a look at the knots themselves.

    Simple Overhand Knot

    The first knot is a simple Overhand knot. You learn this knot when you learn to tie your shoes. It’s just a loop in the cord and pull the ends in opposite directions. For added security, you can place a dab of glue on the knot. E-6000 is a good glue to use for this. 

    It is used in bead stringing and Pearl Knotting. When used this way, try and get the knot as close to the bead as possible. You can also simply us it in the design as decoration as well.

    Lark's Head

    It is as simple as an Overhand knot. This knot is mainly used for macrame projects. It can also be used as a bail to attach stones as pendants or as clasps. It  is pretty secure and can enhance your jewellery piece.

    Square Knot

    This knot is used as a connector. It is the one to use when adding on new cord. You can use beads with this knot to be more decorative or use just the knots for a more simplistic look. This knot lends itself to using multiple strands.

    Each of these knots is created by wrapping the outer strands in a loop around a core piece. Alternating from side to side creates a nice flat finish. 

    For a spiral effect, simply tie the knots on one side only. To do these, you need to secure it similarly to macrame. This technique works best with cord, leather, or hemp.

    Sliding Knot

    This knot is perfect for making adjustable jewellery. There is no clasp required, so this is perfect for anyone with metal allergies. This knot is made by making 2 tunnels of loops in your cord. These tunnels will slide along the cord to make the piece larger or smaller. This is best used with thick cord of some kind.

    Surgeons Knot

    This knot is good for using with slippery cords like elastic cord. This is similar to the Square knot, but more durable. It is not used as a decorative knot, just a utility one.

    Pretzel Knot

    This knot is also known as the Josephine knot. It gets it’s name from the fact that it resembles a pretzel shape. It’s often used as a focal point in macrame. You can enhance the look of the knot by using multiple colours.

    To create this knot, you start out securing it to a board (like in macrame,) then twist the cord into connecting loops.

    Half Hitch

    The final knot in this article is a Half Hitch. This stitch is mainly used in bead weaving. It’s used for adding more threads and ending the weaving also. This knot is similar to the overhand but its done over another thread.

    Hopefully this article helps with knowing which knot to use for a project. Remember practice makes perfect, especially in jewellery making.

  • Newsletter

    The Wonderful World of Modge Podge

    The Wonderful World of Modge Podge

    What is Modge Podge, you many ask? It is a medium that started out for decoupage. Then it branched into jewellery. Modge Podge works as a glue, a sealant, and a finisher. It is not however water proof. It was invented in 1967 by Jan Westone. It is defined as a synthetic resin used mainly in paint and adhesives. There a quite a few formulas to choose from. Below is a list of the best ones for Jewellery making. 


    Our first Modge Podge has to be classic. It comes in three different finishes: Gloss, Matte, and Satin. Gloss is a very shiny look. Matte has a flat, non-shiny finish, and Satin is somewhere between the other two. These are all good to use for most surfaces on projects.

    Brush Stroke

    It gives the illusion of hand painting. You brush it on your project and it gives it a highly textured finish. It resembles the look of hand painting.

    Extreme Glitter

    It’s an ultra fine glitter filled medium. It’s perfect for glass projects or covering dark surfaces. It really shows off the glitter effect. Try thinking “Out-of-This-World” when using this Modge Podge.

    Glow in the Dark

    It’s exactly what you think. In order tot get the glow effect, you’ll need to apply it in layers. It’s good for any project to which you want to add a glow. It won’t be noticeable in light, but it shines in the dark. The intensity will depend on how many layers you used.

    Hard Coat

    This is a super tough formula. It makes  a lot of protection for projects that are frequently touched. It only comes in a satin finish however. It tends to show less scratches with a more durable finish.


    This Modge Podge has holographic glitter in it. It only comes in a glossy finish. The more coats you use, the more sparkle there is. It shows up best on dark surfaces.

    Dimensional Magic

    It has an epoxy-like finish. It’s good for jewellery and paper crafts. With this formula, you have the look of resin without the toxicity and mess. It dries clear and comes in clear and glitter. It can be applied in layers as long as each layer is allowed to dry before the next one goes on.

    These are only a few of the formulas that are available. Most other formulas are for uses such as fabric, puzzles, or furniture. You can find a myriad of information including projects tot try at:

    Modge Podge Rocks.

  • Newsletter

    Carol Perrenoud: History and Manufacture of the Hand Sewing Needle

    Carol Perrenoud: History and Manufacture of the Hand Sewing Needle

    Carol Perrenoud is doing a presentation on the History and Manufacture of Needles

    Many of our hand crafts are reliant upon the lowly hand sewing needle. This month’s guest speaker, Carol Perrenoud, will take you through the history in how needles were originally handmade, then will take you on a guided visual tour of the needle making factory in England and amaze you with many steps of production in making the lowly “I can’t live without it” needle. Why do they break? Why do they bend? What is a Glovers needle and why are they so expensive? What is the difference between needles made in England and needles made in India? How long have metal needles been around historically and culturally what is their significance? And for goodness sake, I just want to be able to thread the darn thing!

    Carol will also show images of her work and will end the talk with the short, “Going to Bead Camp”

    Carol Perrenoud is a bead artist teacher and entrepreneur her work has been exhibited nationally and featured in many beadwork books since 1989 she has penned articles for Bead and Button and Beadwork magazines has authored 4 instructional beadwork videos with Victorian Video Productions – Bead weaving Peyote Stitch, Bead Crochet, Bead Embroidery, and Bead Weaving Herringbone Stitch. She has received the Excellence in Bead Artistry Award along with Virginia Blakelock from Bead and Button in 2002.

    Many of her pieces refer to the animals she studied while a zoology student but her interest in beads and fibers is lifelong. Carol spends her days working in the mail order, Beadcats, bead business and her evenings managing an upscale grocery store. She is a member of the Portland Bead Society.

    Carol states, “I often have to remind customers, students and myself that beads are just static but tactile pretty pieces of glass. What I do with them to make myself feel elegant or visibly put a smile on my face, or impress the viewer that I could do that with beads – THAT is the art of beadwork.”

  • Newsletter

    Holiday Baubles

    Holiday Baubles

    Christmas decorations to get us in the festive mood

    You’ve been crafting all year, and now it’s time for some fun bling not only for yourself, but for your Christmas tree as well. Check out these amazing tutorials on how to make your Holiday a bit more sparkly.

    Beaded Snowflake Rings

    by Beautifulnights

    These snowflake rings will add a flair of Wintery sparkly and whimsy to any occasion. 

    Follow along with this free tutorial on how to make them.

    Pretty Posies Ornament Cover

    by Jill Wiseman

    This beaded cover for Christmas ornaments will be sure to dazzle and awe. Follow along with Jill, as she shows you how to create this wonderful Holiday project and opens your imagination to endless creative possibilities. 

    Wire Wrapped Snowman Christmas Tree Ornament

    By Jocelyn at Fantasia Elegance

    This Ornament is easy to make, and classic in looks. No beading required (incase you’ve had an eggnog cocktail and don’t want to mess with small parts). Join along and create beautiful snowmen for the holidays.

    Paper Quilled Christmas star in green for a hanging ornament

    Stunning Quilled Paper Ornament

    by Sarah Martens

    This Christmas tree ornament is not only fun to make but will add a sense of elegance any way you wish to use it. From hanging on a tree, to a present topper. Its multi-functionality makes it a perfect Holiday must have! Click the title above to be whisked off to the instructions with full colour step by step photos.

  • Newsletter

    Holiday Treats for Fun Meets!

    Holiday Treats for Fun Meets!

    What's a Christmas Social without Snacks?

    It’s that time of year again, where we catch up with one another and make merry. What’s a Social (especially in the Holidays) without a few snacks and some chatting?  Since this is our social meeting, here are a few recipes that would work for any party gathering including our own! 

    Crab Pizza

    A tangy delight for any get together

    Skill Level: All Levels

    Prerequisite: You have to be able to say Worcestershire sauce


    This easy to do recipe, will bring a wow factor to any party and it’s easy to make with just a few simple ingredients.

    Makes a 10″ pizza

    Ingredients List

    • 1 pkg of cream cheese at room temperature
    • 1 sm. jar of seafood sauce
    • 2-3 TBSP of worcestershire sauce
    • 1-2 cans crab meat shredded
    • 1/2 onion chopped
    • Tostito Chips


    • With a mixer, combine cream cheese, onion, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth and creamy
    • Spread the mixture on a pizza pan to resemble a pizza crust, leave room around edges for scooping
    • Spread seafood sauce like it’s the pizza sauce on a pizza, make sure to leave a space around edges like a real pizza
    • Spread the crab meat on top of seafood sauce, cover all sauce
    • Chill for 30 minutes
    • Take out of fridge and serve with Tostitos or crackers and enjoy!

    *A quick variation if you’re not in to seafood is to use shredded chicken in place of the crab, and salsa in place of the seafood sauce*

    Cranberry Cream Cheese Spread

    A holiday treat sure to get you in the festive mood. Cranberry Cream Cheese Spread.

    Skill Level: All Levels

    Prerequisite: None


    This easy yet festive cheese spread is sure to be a colourful and tasty addition to your table. Wow your guests with your festive cooking, and whip this up in no time at all.

    Makes 1 1/2 cups of cheese spread


    • 1 pkg of reduced fat cream cheese
    • 1/2 C chopped cranberries
    • 1/2 C chopped, dried apricots
    • 1 tsp of grated orange zest
    • Assorted Crackers


    • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, cranberries, apricots, and orange zest until well blended
    • Chill before serving
    • Serve with crackers

    Good for everyone including diabetics

    Festive Guacamole Appetizers

    Skill Level: Medium

    Prerequisite: Basic baking skills


    Want to be festive and decorate some food, but tired of sugar cookies? Then this recipe is for you! This festive Guacamole will put the jolly back in your step without the added pounds this christmas, and you get to decorate another tree! What could be better?

    This recipe makes 40 pieces


    • 2-8 oz tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls
    • 1 1/2 tsp taco seasoning divided
    • 20 pretzel sticks cut in half
    • 4 oz of cream cheese softened
    • 1 C of guacamole
    • 2 med sweet yellow peppers
    • 1 med sweet red pepper
    • 1 med sweet green pepper
    • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

    *For a bit of a bite, consider swapping one of the peppers out for a hot pepper in a festive colour!*


    • Preheat oven to 375 F
    • On an ungreased baking sheet, unroll a tube of crescent dough, and press into a 13×8 rectangle
    • Prick with a fork, and sprinkle with 3/4 tsp taco seasoning
    • repeat these steps with second tube of dough and taco seasoning
    • Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes
    • transfer both crescent sheets to a wire rack to cool completely
    • Cut each rectangle cross-wise to make 4 strips (8×4 inches)
    • For trees, cut each strip into 5 triangles, reserving scraps at each end for another use
    • For the tree trunks, insert a pretzel piece into the bottom of each triangle
    • Beat cream cheese and guacamole together until smooth
    • Spread over the trees
    • Half and seed all peppers
    • Cut 40 stars from the yellow peppers using a 3/4 inch star shaped cookie cutter
    • Dice and julienne remaining peppers to make tree decorations
    • Decorate the trees with the pepper pieces, and if desired the cilantro.
    • Refrigerate until serving time.

    Hot Buttered Rum

    A warm drink full of good cheer on a cold winters night. Don't drink and drive.

    Skill Level: All Levels

    Prerequisite: None


    This delightful drink is sure to keep you warm on cold winter nights, and be a smashing success at any gathering where good cheer is needed.

    Makes 4


    • 2 C water
    • 1/4 C unsalted Butter (1/2 stick)
    • 1/4 C packed brown sugar
    • 1 tsp Cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 2/3 C dark rum


    • Bring water, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt to a boil in a sauce of med-high heat
    • reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes
    • remove from heat and stir in the rum
    • serve hot

    Eggnog Cocktail

    If you like eggnog, this recipe may be for you to get jolly this season. If not, steer clear.

    Skill Level: Medium

    Prerequisite: Cocktail equipment


    A twist on the classic eggnog. 

    Makes 1 serving


    • 1 oz Amaretto
    • 1 oz Vodka
    • 2 oz Eggnog
    • A pinch of Cinnamon
    • Carmel Sauce for rimming glass


    • Rim a cocktail glass with carmel sauce
    • shake eggnog, amaretto, and vodka together in a shaker half filled with ice
    • Strain into the cocktail glass and garnish with more cinnamon.

    Easy Homemade Apple Cider

    Hot, homemade, apple cider. What could be better during a party?

    Skill Level: All Levels

    Prerequisite: None


    This tasty drink is easy to make, and even easier to consume. It will be a hit at all party gatherings.

    Makes 4


    • 3 cinnamon sticks
    • 1 tsp black peppercorns
    • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 4 cups unsweetened apple juice
    • 1/2 TBSP orange zest

    *add a dollop of pure maple syrup for added sweetness*


    • Combine first 3 spices in a saucepan, and cook over med-high heat until aromatic, about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently
    • add the nutmeg and stir to combine
    • Add in apple juice and orange zest
    • bring to a boil
    • reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, depending on how strong you like your cider (the longer you simmer, the stronger it’ll be)
    • Pour juice through a fine mesh sieve, into 4 mugs
    • Allow to cool slightly before drinking
  • Newsletter

    How to Embellish Your Life Not Your Stories: Bead Embroidery

    You have a needle, now what?

    Ukranian Bead work

    The meeting on November 16, 2022 will be all about needles. What about learning a bit about two big beading techniques on how to use the needles?

    The first beading technique is bead embroidery. This technique has been used for centuries. It was mainly used for embellishing clothes, footwear, purses and household items. There are several embroidery stitches that can be utilized for beautifying with beads. Seed beads of all colours are typically used but any size bead can be used. Gemstone and metal beads are popular also. 

    Indigenous beadwork is one of the best examples of this technique. They use it in their everyday items as well as their gorgeous ceremonial costumes. One well known Indigenous Bead artists’ is Naomi Smith.

    There are a number of young indigenous bead artists coming on the scene now. If you’re interested, I suggest you do a search, it’s a well worth a look.

    Naomi Smith provided this picture of beautiful beadwork from Indigenous Embroidery.

    A few more examples

    Another beautiful example is Ukrainian Style Beadwork

    The colours, patterns, and history are too amazing. Each piece tells a story, woven through tradition, vibrant colours, and beautiful stitchwork. Maria Rypan is a well-known artist for this kind of work. She’s presented before at the GRBS and TBS and had many stunning examples to show.

    A vibrant piece of Ukrainian Bead Embroidery

    More examples of Maria's work

    A Picture of a beading loom, with a project already started on it.

    The other technique that is very popular is bead looming. It was started long ago as a decorative art form by the indigenous people. It evolved from there to off the loom beading and into the bead embroidery they do today. The technique itself is done on a piece of equipment called a loom (I’m sure you’ve seen these.) Threads are attached to the loom and remain stationary. This is the base. Other thread is used with beads to go back and forth, under and over, on the stationary threads to create a beautiful pattern. It is usually used to make bracelets and bookmarks, but recent developments in the technique have opened it up to so many more possibilities, the creations are endless.


    If you want more information about either of these techniques, there’s plenty out there for you to find. Local libraries, beading societies, the internet and don’t forget often artists use mediums like YouTube to give free beginner tutorials out.

  • Newsletter,  Uncategorized

    Paper Quilling

    Paper Quilling

    A spool of rainbow coloured paper to be used as Quilling
    Ann Martins book on Paper Quilling. Good for Beginners and Advanced alike

    Another recent passion of mine is making jewellery using papers quilling techniques. It was first used in England by the proper young ladies a time passing hobby. They used it to make many different things. DO you remember being taught to make beads out of paper triangles and glue when you were younger?

    In recent years it’s become a trend to use it for scrap booking. I’m sure you’ve all seen it before. The beautiful displays set up to accentuate a picture, but did you know there’s more to it?

    There is a book by Ann Martin called the art of Paper Quilling Jewelry. The designs are beautiful, and the directions are easy to follow. Recommended for Quillers beginner through advanced.

    There are books of other designs to do also, and if you want to learn the history of paper quilling you should go to this website.

    You can also check out Ann Martin’s work here.


    You can also check out YouTube for people who make fantastic designs and how to videos, I recommend as personal favourite Quilling artist of mine: Miriam’s Quilling.

    She has many fantastic videos from beginners to advanced, and how to make your own equipment!

    A Picture of Miriam from Miriams Quilling

    Check out this beginner video below

  • Newsletter

    Shell Beads

    Oldest Known beads made out of shells 82,000 years ago
    Site: Grotte des Pigeons, Taforalt, Morocco photo curtsy of Smithsonian Website

    October is the month steeped in ancient traditions, and to celebrate why not delve int an scientific bead set that sparks interest and mystery even today? What beads are we talking about? Shells.

    Shells!? Are you guys crazy? Actually, we’re not. Believe it or not the world’s oldest beads found were shells that were drilled and then strung. Let’s face it, how many of us have taken a trip along the beach or a lake and come across some interesting shells and picked them up and now they’re sitting in a bag on the shelf or on a box waiting for your inspiration to hit. Well now you can do what cultures across eons have done. String them up and wear the proudly.

    The oldest found shell beads are currently held on a display at the Smithsonian. According to the website they are 82,000 years old!

    According to the Smithsonian site, they travelled over 40 Km from the Mediterranean to get to where they were found. Shells then became part of many societies, not only for decoration, but also for currency.


    Native Americans used Wampum as a for of currency with the first settlers and each other. Formed from Quahog shells, they were used to trade for furs and other necessities.

    Unfortunately like most money was used in this day and age; they could also be used for unkind purposes. Much like today they were also used in scams and unfair trading deals.

    For mor information you can check out this site and many more like it: Wampum

    A white and Purple shells used to Make Wampum either for decoration or for currency.

    Cowrie Shells

    One of the most prolific and easily identifiable shells throughout history and even today is the Cowrie Shell.

    We see them strung up for sale not only as strings we can purchase, but also as necklaces and other crafted items. Did you know there’s much more to them than as pretty decoration though?

    However, money and wealth weren’t the only thing they were used for. They were used for rituals as well. Some cultures used them in healing and fertility rites as they the white colour denoted purity and the curls represented the curves of the female form.

    They started to their use as money when trading routes and agreements opened up with India. Why may you ask? Because unlike North America the cowrie shell was quite common, and the metal was more durable and easily kept and traded over long distances.

    Still to this day, shells hold sway over us. Maybe not as money, but as decoration and crafts and we still find beauty and value in them.

    A picture of a Cowrie Shell