Chautauqua County and Beads

About 10 years ago, while I was visiting family in Cleveland, my family was entertaining friends from out of town who wanted to visit a bead store.( You guessed it, they were from California- why do they know everything before the rest of do?) I had never heard of such a thing. Being crafty and curious, we found Isle of Beads in the yellow pages and went to see. I couldn’t get over how many beads we saw. On my first visit , it just made me dizzy. Most were sorted according to color. I didn’t know a regular person could make a piece of jewelry. Our guests were into hemp bracelets and bought supplies but I was totally intrigued by the other possibilities. I didn’t stay long enough to try a class but I did buy some supplies and a book. After that is was trips to Cleveland to visit family and to stop by the bead store. It was quite  a distance to go for supplies and I didn’t plan ahead very well, it seems I would be in the middle of a project and forget to have gotten something really vital in the design.  I shopped the local craft superstores, but I was already spoiled and wanted the beautiful beads. I also got some things on the Internet but sometimes they would be describing cerulean blue in a dainty size and puce green would arrive the size of a gnat.
When we envisioned our shop, Imagine! it was one of those totally out-of-hand family free-for-all  meetings attended by 3 generations in which everyone had a different concept. I was campaigning for beads. They let me have my way and I am happy to say that our bead department (one of 5 departments) is growing and you can get a great range of pretty and unusual beads, tools, books and instruction right in Chautauqua County. Also, thanks to our bead instructor, Anne Jackson, we carry the largest seed bead collection in the region.
The other day a customer said, “Wow you are lucky because you can make whatever you want and all the supplies are here.” I smiled but the truth is, I made more jewelry before I owned the shop. There is always so much to do in our store. But is is great for me to see the same excitement and enthusiasm I felt when I learned and discovered how many really beautiful things anyone can make. I love watching people in classes really enjoying the experience of making something unique and getting complimented.  The really great thing is, anyone can bead! Really. There are some crafts that take skill and patience, but this isn’t one of them, you can make something lovely right away and there is always something more to learn. My friend Norma picked it up immediately and she makes me laugh because she wakes up in the morning and looks in the mirror and often says, “Hmmm. I don’t have earrings to go with this blouse…” then she makes them. I make coffee in the morning, Norma makes earrings!

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