Beading gifts
December 15, 2014 11:55 AM   Subscribe

My impossible-to-shop-for mother has gotten into beading this year. I know absolutely nothing about beading except that involves beads. What are some good gifts for a beading person -- things that she might not buy for herself?

(As far as I know she has mostly made bracelets, but maybe because that's all she learned. Don't know if that matters.)
posted by mudpuppie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
An instructional book with lots of jewelry design ideas in it.
posted by orange swan at 11:56 AM on December 15, 2014

If there's a bead store in her area that offers classes, you could pay for her to take one! I did this for Mother's Day one year for my mom (we actually both went, but I don't think that's necessary if you're not feeling it).

Maybe a pretty box with lots of little compartments to keep beads and other supplies in? A Google search brings up mostly utilitarian plastic ones, but I'm sure there are nicer ones out there.
posted by sunset in snow country at 12:02 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am a very occasional, and very low skilled, beader. I find a bead board extremely useful. My husband thrilled an experienced beader with a gift of a selection of beautiful beads in a variety of colours. Swarovski makes beautiful, gem-like beads that I would never get for myself.
posted by angiep at 12:19 PM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

As an occasional beader myself, I'd suggest some tools. For example, round-nose pliers, wire-cutting pliers, or a crimping tool. I know my own tendency is to cheap out on tools, so I'd be happy to receive a decent set of pliers or what have you. I've suggested these thinking she's using beading wire to create bracelets (as opposed to, say, silk or linen thread). Alternatively, you could get her a work area/planning mat like this or this.

(All links are to Fire Mountain Gems, because I've purchased things from them many times and found them very easy to deal with and very helpful.)
posted by Janta at 12:21 PM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'd go for tools, if you don't know her taste in beads:
A bead Reamer
a wood (so as not to damage the bead you are reaming) bead vise holder
Bead knotting tool

Looper pliers

posted by sarajane at 12:49 PM on December 15, 2014

If she does any kind of wire-wrapping, these wire-cutters are amazing, and probably more expensive than she would buy for herself. I cheaped out out cutters for a really long time before someone I worked with talked me into trying these, and the difference they make in terms of getting a close and clean cut is HUGE.
posted by tan_coul at 12:56 PM on December 15, 2014

Here's a book called Create Three Dimensional Jewelry, written by a lady who used to own a bead store in Freeport, Maine. She has relocated to Arizona now, but she used to teach bead classes and I took one from her once. She is a wizard of bead knowledge, and I think she is still on FB and Twitter, even tho' she closed her bead shop (which was like a fairyland of beads). Oh well, here is her website and you can contact her. I am pretty sure she would be happy to fill you in on gifts for your Mom.

I have the little pliers, and those tiny silver crimping beads, as well as some beads and filament (for making floating necklaces). Also, boxes with compartments are very handy, and maybe a silicone mat so things won't roll away, but that lady will set you up. She is very friendly and helpful, whether you buy from her or not.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:39 PM on December 15, 2014

Fire Mountain Gems is great, and bead boards and bead storage are always useful. FMG suggests this as their most popular bead storage/sorting set of containers which apparently you can add on over time. (It's also on their top ten most popular gifts list.)

If she likes to give (or sell!) her creations, jewelry-making-types ALWAYS need tiny plastic bags (for beads or finished work) and pretty jewelry pouches or presentation boxes.

Another idea -- there are bead shows all the time, all over the place. Maybe you could find a bead show (local to her? Local to you? Midway between?) and you could get her tickets for it, for the two of you, and you could go together. I've been to beading shows to keep my loves-to-bead friend company, and I actually thought they were really fun, there is a LOT of pretty stuff to look at! It was cheap to attend, I got a couple of pretty cheap bracelets, she got approximately A MILLION BEADS, and you could maybe pay for dinner afterwards, or something.

If you know what kind of beads she likes, etsy can be a great source for building her "stash" -- "loose mixed beads" turns up interesting stuff. "Seed beads" or "vintage beads" or whatever. "Loose" and "mixed" and "supplies" are good terms to append to whatever sort of bead you're after. "Stash clearing" or "stash builder" sometimes works well too.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:44 PM on December 15, 2014

Strongly seconding sunset in snow country's suggestion to connect with her local bead store. While the tools or supplies are more expensive than FMG's, they come with the personal touch which can transform an interest into a life-long avocation. They'll be happy to sell you a gift certificate. Not only will there be supplies, beads, metals, stones but most importantly the folks who run them will know all the folks who are willing to teach one-to-one. They usually offer classes as well.

Also bead shows are a gas while pleasantly exhausting. She'll find much better prices than FMG at a bead show. FMG's quality is good for beginners. The store with the absolutely funniest marketing, and high-quality supplies, is South Pacific Beading. Easy to find at

Beading-related magazines are better than e-versions. It's enough of a challenge juggling your beads, your tray, your needles and pliers, without adding a tablet to the mix. In the U.S., there are two 6-times-a-year franchises:
Bead & Button / Kalmbach Publishing publishes the more basic "Bead Style" as well as "Bead & Button." They also host a helpful Q&A service as well as videos.
Interweave Press publishes the more basic "Bead Stringing" as well as "Beadwork." Interweave also hosts Beading Daily, with lots of instructional videos for free and to download for money.

The basic mags are aimed at absolute beginners, with detailed instructions in every step. B&B and Beadwork focus on the beader who's already made 10 or 20 items; their instructions are much more terse. These are pretty pricey subscriptions, so you may want to purchase some sample issues and see what she finds useful. That local bead store will have back copies.
posted by Jesse the K at 3:21 PM on December 15, 2014

Here are some jewelry making tutorials for specific items and ideas. Albina makes beautiful jewelry, I have some of her creations and have also purchased them for gifts. She will answer emails as well.
posted by mermayd at 3:28 PM on December 15, 2014

Depending on what sort of person she is, she may like an online shop gift voucher so she can spend hours (or days! or weeks!) poring over photos and descriptions of beautiful beads, and deciding what to buy.

I'm a half-arsed beader, and I have the tools and storage boxes I need. (I'm actually getting a new storage box from my kids this year, because I asked for it and - being unsure what to get - they rang to ask how big, how many drawers, etc, while shopping for it.)

But oh, a gift voucher so I could lay on the sofa with a full tummy and a glass of bubbly after Christmas lunch and browse their website, and make lists of what I like and what I need and what I wouldn't know what to do with but they are SO BEAUTIFUL I NEED THEM!

That would be pretty much ideal for me. I don't know if your MIL's MMV.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:23 AM on December 16, 2014

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