Bead a Square for Cancer Research

It's amazing how a few little beads can do a whole lot of a good.

The Bead-It-Forward project began in 1985 when beader Jeanette Shannigan lost her mother to cancer.  She asked beaders to donate small squares of beadwork which she then stitched into a quilt and sold at an online auction held by Bead Artists Against Breast Cancer.  In recent years, the number of squares donated has approached 2,000 annually.  After several years of management by Bead & Button, Amy Severino, a beader with a background in marketing, stepped up this year to manage the project. I've personally donated a couple of beaded squares over the years, so I was especially excited to talk to Amy about her new challenge.

Animal patternWhy this project?

I'm a little obsessed with this project!  Aside from being an active participant, I enjoyed seeing the finished quilts, shadow boxes, and other finished objects on social media.  I often thought I would love to be in that room to see and touch those squares.  I also love the collaboration of so many beaders from around the word, all beading for the same cause and creating beautiful things.  And, of course, there's the cause itself.  Sadly, I know ten women who are battling or have battled breast cancer.  I'm not talking about acquaintances either.  These are women I call my friends.  It definitely feels good to be doing something in honor of them.

What is this year's theme?

This year's theme is "Animals: Wild about finding a cure."  You can use animals from past themes if you like. (Some past themes have included butterflies, turtles, and birds).  Someone asked on the blog whether they could use dragonflies or unicorns. Yes!  As long as it's an animal, it will be accepted.

What's the deadline for the squares to be sent in?

The squares are due in the Bead-It-Forward office by March 6, 2015.  See the guidelines for the square sizes, submission form, shipping address, and other important details.

Who will receive the money from the auction this year?

The proceeds from the auctions will benefit The Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research and The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for beaders who want to participate?

  • If you've never tried any beadweaving or bead embroidery techniques, this is the perfect time to try!  There are free patterns on the Bead-It-Forward website, along links to helpful information such as a tutorial by Chris Franchetti Michaels on how to attach your beaded square to the backing material.
  • Experienced beaders might try making the same pattern a couple of times using beads with different finishes or colors.  The effect is really dramatic (think U.S. artist Andy Warhol) and looks fantastic on finished products.
  • If one small square is too limiting for your idea, consider making a group of several to form a larger animal picture.  (The example pictured here is available as a larger PDF download on the Bead-It-Forward website.)

Thank you, Amy! 

Let's help Amy make this a record-setting year.  Ready, set, bead!

Related Posts:


Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  You can also follow me on Twitter at: Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!