Beading Kits: Love 'Em or Leave 'Em?

Oct 12, 2011
The packaging for one of the very first beading kits I ever bought, circa 2000.

I can still remember the first beading kit I ever bought. It was for a pair of fringed brick-stitch earrings that looked like shooting stars. The beaded earrings were big, clunky, and the colors were borderline ugly, but the beading kit was so much fun to put together that I immediately went back and ordered more kits for beaded amulet bags and delicate netted necklaces.

The beading kit itself was unremarkable. The beads were separated into tiny plastic bags that were stapled to a piece of cardstock with a label stuck to it, featuring a picture of the finished project. There was no thread included with the beading kit, and the instructions were printed out on regular computer paper.

Now, THIS is a beading kit! Instructions on CD, beautiful packaging and a fabulous beading project. What more could a bead-lover ask for?
Fast-forward eleven years to the last beading kit I bought from Carol Dean Sharpe of Sand Fibers. It came beautifully packaged in a reusable box, and the directions were on a CD that I popped into my laptop. Oh, and did I mention the project was an amazing beadwork design, too? It was a totally fabulous textured cuff bracelet using metallic triangle beads and cylinder beads. (Unfortunately, Carol no longer offers these kits, so I was thrilled to have been able to snag one!)

Beading kits have definitely changed in the eleven years since I started beading seriously. These days, beading kits are big business. Most beading designers I know have told me that their income comes mostly from beading kits, not from class fees for teaching. Even at my local farmer's market where I sold my finished beadwork for several years, my beading kits were always a big hit and almost always sold out each week.

So what's the big attraction with beading kits? Some people, including me, love them. I love getting an attractively packaged kit with all the beads and supplies I need to create a new piece of beadwork. It's nice to have the exact supplies that you need right there and labeled so that there's no confusion when it's time to sit down and start beading. And when I take a beading class, I find that kits are a very economical way to make sure that I have exactly the right supplies for that particular class or project. As one fan of bead kits said to me once, "No fuss, no muss, you have an instant beading project in a box!"

But there are others who aren't fans of beading kits. For starters, there are usually a limited number of color palettes available when buying a beading kit. If you don't like any of the colors available, well, you're out of luck. Other people feel that beading kits stifle their creativity because they enjoy adding their own personal touches to each beading project. There's also the cost involved when purchasing beading kits, some of which can easily cost over $100 for a single project, depending on the materials used.

What's your take on beading kits? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Don't really care either way? Leave a comment and share your thoughts here on the blog.   

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

TashaMc wrote
on Oct 13, 2011 2:29 AM

I love beading kits when I'm taking a class - I'm there to learn a technique, usually, and I really get annoyed with myself when I've put my own bits together and missed a crucial component. But if I'm just beading at home, I prefer to play with my beads and see what comes out.

Tia Dalma wrote
on Oct 13, 2011 3:50 AM

I really love the idea of beading kits...although I have never purchased one!

I think they are a great way for designers to get their work out there and to make some money with their designs...and this keeps keeps them designing and keeps the magazines full of patterns to sell to us!

When a designer sells a pattern to a magazine, the magazine owns the rights to sell that pattern for a set amount of time...but the designer can still sell kits for that pattern! So this is how many designers make money from their published patterns, and I think that is important for all of us!

The quality of the kits seems to be getting better and better too...you can find some really high end patterns in these kits! Of course some of them are pricey but again, your money is going to your favorite designer!

And some patterns will cost a lot of money no matter where you get the supplies, so I can see the appeal of buying everything needed for a pattern in one neat little package!

I also think kits are a great way for beginners to learn how to use all these newly learned stitches in an actual project...and it removes all those variables that can go wrong when buying supplies for a pattern...especially for a beginner who may not know their beads and supplies yet!

So I don't really know why I haven't ever bought a kit...I love beading and I work mainly with Seed Beads! I consider my skill level to be Semi Advanced...but I am not an incredible designer by any means!

And I love making the projects that are in the magazines and the books...sometimes I change things in the design and sometimes I just use some inspiration from the project...but many times I stick to their design and create the project only changing the color scheme.

Maybe one of these days I will pick up a kit or two from a designer I love! I do have a huge bead stash that is always growing, but sometimes it seems like I am still missing several important components for a project...and buying a kit would keep the shopping list short and support a designer in the process!

Privera101 wrote
on Oct 13, 2011 12:01 PM

I love kits, it's a great way to learn!

D.M.Z wrote
on Oct 13, 2011 12:57 PM

I love the concept of kits, I have bought quite a few, usually ones that use beads other than the ones I own, or use a technique that I am not sure of. I like the concept of using the beads that the artist works with, so the project comes out right and in proportion, etc.

However, ultimately I have a "hit" list of vendors who supply their kits with cheap and mismatched beads and I will not support them.......ever again. They are poisoned to me.

Kits are so great though when you get them and open them up and see all the glitter and glory.......right there on your own bead table........... Donna

alicia.m wrote
on Oct 13, 2011 8:46 PM

The only kit I ever purchased was one for knotting a necklace, because I loved the beads in it (wood discs with a dolphin painted on them) and I really wanted to knot it (I did and I wore it for a long time, I still have it).

I don't like the idea of a kit for myself, because it feels like manufacturing - I'd rather learn a technique and create something unique with it.

As a learning tool - it is a splendid idea, especially if you don't have your own stash of beads, tools and what not. However, I wouldn't want to sell them (see the manufacturing part above :))

Radiance@3 wrote
on Oct 15, 2011 10:17 AM

I've never bought a kit, because the ones that really attract me are always more expensive than I can afford... but if I ever win the lottery, Cynthia Rutledge will be sold out in no time!  :-)

horselove wrote
on Oct 15, 2011 1:15 PM

I didn't even know that there was such a thing! I can see how it would be nice, especially for beginers to have all the materials given to them.

But $100?! Just for one kit? Sweet mercy!! Those beads better  be made of gold before I'm gonna pay that for somthing that might not even have the colors I like!

Lil Ace wrote
on Oct 15, 2011 2:50 PM

I love beading kits. It provides you with a complete supply list and instructions. This way I can make multiples of the same item with different color schemes.

It's also free advertisement for the designer when a fellow beader asks me where they can order the kit.

CRAZYGRANNIE wrote
on Oct 15, 2011 7:31 PM

BEADING KITS ARE THE GREATEST THINGS. YOU NOT ONLY GET EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO START DOING BUT ONCE YOU MASTER IT YOU CAN ADD, TAKE AWAY CHANGE WHAT EVER YOU DREAM. YOUR LIKE THE APPLE DESIGNER THAT TOOK THE PC AND MADE IT BETTER.

BlueGull wrote
on Oct 16, 2011 8:13 PM

I love kits. I usually make the first one as instructed, to make sure I understand what is possible with the design and technique. Then I use what I learned in other things I do. It is an easy way to learn-by-doing, then jump off with your own creativity or preferred color palette!

cj

rocbed wrote
on Oct 17, 2011 1:09 PM

Hi,

My issue with beading kits is when buying a bracelet kit, they're never long enough.  Everything is sized between 7 and 7 1/2" bracelet.  I have an 8" wrist, (not counting the clasp) and always have fit issues with a kit.  So added to the often costly price, and the fact that if I make it, it's not going to fit, I don't bother.  Consequently I have never bought a bracelet kit, although I've seen several I'd like to try.  I nearly always write to whoever is distributing it and ask if there is a pattern only.

Rochelle

on Nov 5, 2011 11:21 AM

I bought several kits recently.  The kits were made in a different country and the instructions were badly written and translated.   Had the instructions been correctly written and paired with the illustrations the kit idea would have been awesome.  Take away.....Buy one kit to see how you like the total package.  I now prefer some of the online stores where the inspiration/projects have a list of components for you to either order all or only what you do not already own and print the instructions first to see if they make sense to you first.