On my recent trip to Bead Fest Philadelphia, I made a trip across the river to southern New Jersey, where I got to meet up with the fabulous Amy Blevins and see her gorgeous bead shop, Bead & Glass Boutique. When I travel, I like to seek out small, independent bead shops and do a little shopping while I'm there. Supporting local bead shops is probably one of the most important things we as beaders can do!
Local bead shops provide more than just unique beads and findings that you won't find in the Big Box craft stores: they give us a little creative haven, a sense of community, and add charm to any downtown shopping district.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the shop was how beautiful, spacious, and light the entire space was. Nothing was hidden away in a dark corner, and all of the beads and supplies were displayed so that it was easy to find what I was looking for. The big front windows let in plenty of natural light and made the whole store even more welcoming and cheerful!
The second thing I noticed? The beads! Amy has a fantastic selection of artist beads, both from local artists and those living not-so-nearby, including her own beautiful lampwork glass beads. While I was there, she happened to mention that she had just received a trunk show of raku beads from ceramic artist Marianne Kasparian, the talent behind MAKUstudio, and did I want to take a peek at them? Well, heck, yeah, I did!
We unwrapped the beads in the very spacious classroom at the rear of the bead shop. The space is large enough to accommodate around fifteen students, but cozy enough that you don't feel like you're getting lost in a huge room. Like the rest of Bead & Glass Boutique, it was well-lit and beautiful.
Bead & Glass Boutique has a full range of beads and beading supplies for just about any kind of beading project you want to make. Seed beads, gemstone beads, freshwater pearls, artist beads, metal beads and findings, and more kinds of glass beads than you know what to do with were all beautifully displayed and clearly marked.
And of course, I had to do a little shopping while I was at Bead & Glass Boutique!
I saw a couple of very unusual Czech glass beads that had to come home with me for some bead-weaving projects, and two hanks of the Czech cut beads went into my little tray.
As I helped Amy unwrap all the beads from the raku trunk show, I picked out two for myself: the first, a whimsical and beautiful raku owl pendant, and a cabochon with a piece of green glass and metal bars that just appealed to my inner science fiction geek.
I also chose a strand of handmade polymer clay beads and one of Amy's own handmade lampwork glass beads, along with a strand of huge, glittering Chinese crystal beads that matched Amy's glass bead perfectly!
To finish off my little shopping spree, I picked out some lovely metal cones and funky toggle clasps from Bead & Glass Boutique's selection of very reasonably-priced metal bead and findings. The cones are perfect for delicate multi-strand beading projects or for my Viking knit chains, and those toggle clasps are definitely not going to be hidden at the back of any necklace or bracelet I make with them!
Amy loves featuring handmade artist beads in her shop because of the unique character they add to her inventory. In addition to the regular stock of artist beads, Bead & Glass Boutique hosts trunk shows from local and national bead artists to offer one-of-a-kind work to beaders.
So, what's in store for Bead & Glass Boutique? Amy has some big plans for the space, including playing host to nationally-known teachers like Nikia Angel, Kim Stathis, and Amy Katz. There are lots of beading classes happening there on a regular basis, including some of Amy's own amazing beaded jewelry designs and bead embroidery.
What else does the future hold for Bead & Glass Boutique? The sky's the limit, according to Amy! She's got a plan and a vision to turn her beautiful bead shop into a destination bead store for bead lovers and artists from all over. Plans are also in the works to add online shopping to their website so that you can see all the wonderful beads, findings, and beading supplies from the comfort of home.
You can find Bead & Glass Boutique at 40 South Broadway in Pitman, New Jersey. Make sure you stop by their website, Bead & Glass Boutique, to sign up for their newsletter, see pictures of beautiful beadwork done by customers and students, and see the new class schedule as it becomes available!
Do you have a favorite local bead shop? Leave a comment and tell us about it, where we can find them, and their website!