Can Bead-weaving Save the World?

Mar 13, 2013

So, there I was, in December of 2001: fresh out of college, armed with a degree in environmental science, and ready to save the world. But things don't always work out the way we plan.

After a few years working in non-profit community development, dealing with politicians and bureaucratic government agencies, I found myself suffering from a serious case of burnout. At the end of every workday, I found myself spending time with my bead-weaving as a way to relax and let go of all the stress that built up during my day. Even better, when I traveled for conferences and meetings, I made a point of seeking out any cool local bead shops.

Eventually, my life started taking a new direction, and the bead-weaving was leading the way. The more I got into my bead-weaving, the happier I was. I found myself doodling jewelry designs in the margins of my notes at meetings, and my days off were spent, naturally, in front of my beads.

It made me realize that maybe, just maybe, if I were going to save the world, I had to save myself first. And the way I would save myself was through my bead-weaving!

We all know how bead-weaving is a great way to relax at the end of a rough day or a busy week, and I even use it as a form of mindful meditation.

But can bead-weaving save the world?

Here's how I see it: when I get stressed out, or overwhelmed, or I start to feel sad, my beads are always there for me. All I have to do is pick up my needle and thread, and in a few minutes, I can feel my heart rate slow down, and my thoughts get clearer. By the time I've spent a few hours with my bead-weaving, I feel happier. I even look happier! And all that happy, calm, relaxed energy I have gets passed on to anyone I meet -- the cashier at the grocery store, or the clerk at the post office. 

I see it in my students, too. Even when we're tackling a tough project like tubular right-angle weave, we can relax and enjoy spending time with each other and enjoying the process of bead-weaving. We end our classes smiling and happy, and then we go out and start spreading that good energy around to everyone we meet!

So, do I think bead-weaving can save the world? Yes, I do. When we make ourselves happy by doing what we love (like bead-weaving), we can't help but spread that happiness through our actions and our words. We're making the world a happier place by making ourselves happy.

If you're ready for a whole lot of happy, check out the 2012 Beadwork Collection CD. All six 2012 issues of Beadwork magazine on one searchable CD, including all of the content from the print magazines. You'll get all of the fabulous Designer of the Year projects, plus product reviews, tips and techniques, and fabulous bead artist profiles. The 2012 Beadwork Collection is also available as an instant download, so you can get all the happiness of 115 bead-weaving projects and instant gratification, all at the same time!

What do you think -- can we save the world with  bead-weaving? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your thoughts with us!

Bead Happy,


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motidana wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 6:54 AM

Oh , my God , reading your article I feel as if I`m reading my feelings ,put in words !  

I know Beading can make your life better

 And I can say this for sure looking at my mom. She lost my dad more than 10 years ago and was shattered , frightened and alone as I live far away in another town . Due to personal reasons reasons I could not be near her to help her get over the loss. It was only her love for beading that kept her mind diverted and she slowly moved out of her depression .

Today she continues to create beaded purses which divert her mind , get over her loneliness and above all have given her a means of income which has made her happy and confident  that she is financially able to look after herself .  

It has made us both happier , and our bond has strengthened. And above all what makes me feel that beading can surely change your life for better is the fact that she is a living example to many other elderly women  in our social circle , who are unable to go out and work but still need some means of supporting themselves.


my blog :

Amybeader wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 8:37 AM

I don't know that beadweaving can "save the world" but it has been one of the ways I have opened myself up to new experiences and affirmed my belief in myself as a creative person. I've made lots of great friends as a beader. I have had the joy of teaching beading to people who assumed they were not creative, could not make anything, and that if they tried, they would never complete it. Watching a person just light up as they complete a project, do something they've never done before, has helped me because there is a part of me that's always wanted to be a teacher.

I've also done a beading workshop with a local program for disadvantaged young adults; the idea was to give them something to do besides being on the street. It was great! I had several people in the class, and taught your basic spiral rope (remember these are young adults who've never done anything like this) bracelet. One young guy in the class just picked it up and ran with it: when the class ended, he was already making his third bracelet!

So although I'm not sure beadweaving can change the world, it can offer opportunities for joy and growth to many people, including those who've never even touched beads and needles and thread before in their lives.

on Mar 13, 2013 8:53 AM

Thank you for such a wonderful and intimate article.  There are so many who have found that crafts such as beading are not only a way to create something beautiful but that the creating itself is a means of coping and dealing with life.

Back in the 70s I was given a little wire loom that I used to weave chokers and bracelets.  Later I learned to bead weave without a loom and then there was macrame....  In the 80s I had added knitting and crochet.  By the time the 90s rolled around I was incorporating beads into most of my creations.  

Beading wasn't the only thing that I was doing during those decades.  I was raising a family and working too.  Evenings with beads, thread, yarn.... and even early, sleepless mornings just sitting alone and working on a project allowed me to relax and be better at dealing with all of the stresses that I was facing during my days.

Now, thirteen years into a new century, my little family has grown and moved out and I am a university student.  Like you, I enjoy calming down with beads.  Different projects, different ideas, and it all still works.  

So, yes!  I agree with you that beading can save the world!  A little less stress in our lives or, a way of coping with the stresses we have to deal with and maybe we will all be in a better mood to walk down the street after work....


my blog:

on Mar 13, 2013 10:10 AM

Consider donating some bead work to your favorite charity for their fundraising.  We support an assisted living facility and their gift shop loves my unique jewelry.

chillwthme wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 10:45 AM

I just loved your article!!!  I feel the same about my beads and they help me relax and clear my head.....I dont know what I would do without my beads and needle and thread!!!!

mizzfreckle wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 10:46 AM

Since I know that the only way to save the world is to do it from within myself, I am in total agreement with you. If every single person in the world  had the freedom and opportunity to do exactly what enabled them to find that calm, happy place within themselves, then the world would indeed be saved.

This was a TREMENDOUS piece of writing. I always enjoy what you have to say and this was the most spectacular and insightful piece I have read on all my websites. Keep the good work going.

in2arts wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 12:14 PM

not only can beading save the world, but all kinds of leisure activities can be so helpful and bring relaxation, creativity and an outlet for people. I work as a Recreation Therapist at a VA facility and I promote all kinds of activities for the veterans to participate in for dealing with issues of PTSD, anxiety, depression and pain. on my brochure there is the saying "medicine that doesn't come in a bottle"!!!!! Great article.

Marylou@3 wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 12:15 PM

I am so glad you wrote about saving the world via bead weaving! That is exactly how I feel.  For years, I have been searching and finally found that bead weaving lets me escape the "dramas" that family members, co-workers, and friends throw my way!  It is so liberating to go to my "bead room" and just get lost into a design I am creating and seeing all the sparkles around me.  Makes me so happy!  Let's save the world by beading and healing!  Yay!

Debbie@304 wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 12:50 PM

Ditto, ditto, ditto.

I really can't express this any better than you and all who have responded so far.  I've been beading for well over 40 years and find not only the relaxation of working with beads but the endless learning and creative possibilities help keep my mind young.  Whenever I find myself stressed out all I have to do is make myself comfortable in my studio and everything falls into place.  Don't be too impressed that I have a studio.  That's what I call one corner of our family room where my favourite chair is surrounded by my bead cases.  

I've heard a few speak of beading as an addiction but I think most would agree it's therapy.  Buying beads, on the other hand........

on Mar 13, 2013 12:56 PM

PLEASE tell me where the directions are for the light green lariat shown in the article. I have been trying for years to do something like that "knot" in the center, and never had any sucess.

DeonD wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 1:05 PM

I have been beading for 44 years.  I had never done any kind of craft or art before then and when I learned to bead I was 31 years old.  I had purchased five hanks of beads that I thought were 95 cents a hank like the other beads I had looked at.  Nothing was marked with a price and when I held up a hank of beads and asked how much they were and the shop owner said 95 cents I thought all the hanks would be the same price.  WRONG!  The five hanks I picked out - with the intention of hanging them over the corner of my dresser mirror - totaled $87, when I was expecting to pay less than $5.  I paid for the beads and went out to the car to join my husband.  He asked me what I was going to do with the bead and when I mentioned hanging them on the mirror he suggested that I learn some other way to use them.  Two weeks after my purchase I read an article in the newspaper announcing that beading classes were being offered at a community center nearby.  I showed up the following Thursday night for the class and learned how to make one brick stitch earring in solid black.  The teacher said "You don't need another class", and I thought she meant "ever".  I went home, continued making earrings, started designing and incorporating my original patterns.  We then started participating in Arts and Craft shows, Mountain Man Rendezvous, and Native American Pow Wows with my beadwork.  In 1982 I visited a bead shop in  

on Mar 13, 2013 1:20 PM

You are so right! When we are calm and happy we spread it around. It's fun to turn a crabby cashier around. She may even spread happy, at least nice, to everyone who comes through her line.  Great story, Thanks, Linda.

Karen0308 wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 1:26 PM

Hi Jennifer!  I ALWAYS enjoy reading your articles and this one is bang on. I suffer from clinical depression and severe anxiety. When I first discovered beading I finally found something I could actually enjoy. I love going to bead classes in our small town bead shop because it gives me the opportunity to socialize and have a laugh with the other beadladies. Some days due to my illness, I have to force myself out. But when I get there I always have fun, feel better and never regret going. When I get lost in a project or fixing a boo boo (lol), all the negative thoughts and worries disappear. Anyway, just want to thank you for your inspiration

Luv Karen M., Thorold, ON., Canada

Jan Timms wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 4:53 PM

For too long it has been considered normal to follow a ‘traditional’ career.  One where you strive to compete to rules laid down by others to achieve the maximum for their requirements to make their company more successful or to help that manager reach those targets.  Often people now work in organisations with no perceivable end product with no sense of reward for their daily work which is why, I believe, that so many working people feel unfulfilled.

The ability for people to be involved in handicrafts of any kind is important, those skills should be encouraged.  As time chugs along and people come to rely on technology more and more skills could be lost to the coming generations if we don’t work to keep them alive.  

I'm an embroiderer, have been ever since I can remember.  I've been lucky in that I have been able to earn a living as a tambour bead embroiderer.  It has often been very hard work but a rewarding job.  I now pass my skills on to others by teaching.  I find it delightful when I am able to pass my skills onto a new student.  There is nothing more satisfying than being able to guide someone onto a new creative path and to see them leave buzzing with new ideas for projects

So, you may not change the whole world but you can change how people perceive themselves; you can show them how to open the door to their hidden creativeness and how to find satisfaction in craft.  People who have the ability to craft have the potential to provide an income for themselves and their families.  Those people may not be able to save the whole world but they can help to save themselves on many levels and they are equipped with skills to pass to the coming generations.

sadies mom wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 5:39 PM

The most apt statement concerning beadworking I ever read (don't remember where) goes something like this--When there has been so much ugly in your life, beading feeds a need to create/have/wear/own something beautiful.  Mindful meditation with a beautiful result.  BEADERS ROCK!!

Great article expressing how most of us feel.  Everybody I have taught to bead is happier after. Save the world, why not?

Happy beading,

Sadie's Mom

sadies mom wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 5:40 PM

The most apt statement concerning beadworking I ever read (don't remember where) goes something like this--When there has been so much ugly in your life, beading feeds a need to create/have/wear/own something beautiful.  Mindful meditation with a beautiful result.  BEADERS ROCK!!

Great article expressing how most of us feel.  Everybody I have taught to bead is happier after. Save the world, why not?

Happy beading,

Sadie's Mom

on Mar 13, 2013 5:52 PM

Yay! I really like this article. I, too, want to save the world, but it can be overwhelming. My various crafts keep me sane. What a great post!

hppiefrk wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 8:54 PM

I, too, come home from work every day and go right to my beads.  My job is very fast paced, hectic, and we are always running just a bit behind and trying to catch up.  About a year ago I read an article about making paper beads.  I had to try it!  I had never made anything before, and I had all the materials on hand (paper, glue, markers, clear nail polish).  I was so thrilled with how cute they were, and how easy, and how GOOD I felt after creating something from scratch, that I was hooked.

It's now a year later and I have an entire room of my house dedicated to beading - seed beads, glass beads, polymer clay, resin, wireworking....I have jewelry to match every single outfit I own.  I sell stuff here and there on Etsy and to my children's friends.  And I love every single minute of beading.  Sometimes on my ride home from work I browse Pinterest and find something I want to make.  Beading is my relaxation.  Beading is my de-stresser.  My husband says "how can you

Kitlette wrote
on Mar 13, 2013 11:12 PM

What a wonderful story. I don't do any bead work yet, but I do other crafts and you're right. When one gets in the flow of creating, the "gnats & flies " of life seem to disappear - at least for a while.

SashaJohn wrote
on Mar 14, 2013 5:24 AM

These must be really expensive....Isn't it? <a href="">Bead bracelets</a>

ottercat wrote
on Mar 14, 2013 6:14 AM

Thank you, Jennifer -- I enjoy your articles.  Yes, I think bead weaving (and other activities) can help save civilization -- or at the least, our sanity.  While in the Armed Forces, I found working/creating something calmed me down.  I designed a chart of a 40' work boat for looming; created the loom, bought local beads (rough sized seed beads), and crocheting cord; and though I didn't finish the piece, I still have it and the memories of that time overseas.  I've found that 'random acts of kindness' also improves my mood.  On the ship, if a crew member or ship mate didn't have enough change for the soda machine, I'd give them the amount needed with only one condition -- that they should do the same for someone else.  The same kindness was returned to me several times during my time aboard.  And to this day, my husband and I continue this practice.  This is what I meant by 'beading -- it's a Zen kind of thing'.

on Mar 14, 2013 8:08 AM

Yes, Jennifer, beading (and for me, almost any "threaded needed" technique) can help save the world! I began teaching needlework in the early 1980's, needleponit at the time that was HUGE back then, and although I'm now heavily into beading, the same principal still stands true. When you relax with that needled in your hands you pass that relaxed feeling on to others, just like you wrote in today's "Can Bead-weaving Save The World." And here's an added benfit that comes from sharing  with the world.

Last week I accidentally reconnected, after all these many years, the director of the center where I first taught needlework professionally, the one who lined up and publicized those first classes! And guess what,  she's still "coping with her world" as she so aptly put it, by working needlepoint that I taught her! And to think, Jennifer, all those people you're now teaching might still be "coping" by using the techniques you're now teaching them.  

BTW, after the initial needlework teaching successes I earned Teacher Certification through EGA, where I still belong to the local chapter, and then taught through seminars and the EGA Correspondence School. And would I have done all this if one of my very first student's, that director I've become reacquainted with now, hadn't helped set up and advertised those classes? It is truly doubtful.

I hope that you, like me, have the privledge of being told many years after you started teaching that you so positively affected someone's life. It is a true treasure especially as we "age" and of course age so much more gracefully with wonderful "threaded needle" artwork (or any other craft) to keep us happily stitching along!

Like a pebble tossed into the brook, you never quite know who will be affected in a positive way by that one person  you taught or, as the director who helped set up my classes, encouraged along their life's path?  And isn't that really how we "save the world" by helping just one person at a time along the way?


LSmi5190 wrote
on Mar 15, 2013 9:20 AM

This blog sums me up to the T!

dianedp wrote
on Mar 15, 2013 3:50 PM

Yes, beading can save the world. I started beading after my youngest daughter (then 13) got me to buy her some beads by *swearing* she would make them into Christmas gifts for her siblings.

I didn't want to waste them, so I started using them. Which required tools, patterns, seed beads, etc..., all hard to find locally, and I didn't know online bead stores existed.

It was well over a year before I found a cylinder bead and--literally and figuratively--heard that "Click". When our nest emptied enough to create an extra bedroom, half of it became my bead room. My husband gave me a peg board for my birthday that year, bought a ton of pegs and installed it the minute he brought it home. I was thrilled!

For a lot longer than I've had beads, I've had various physical and mental health problems, "controlled" as best they can be. I have a therapist, and I have a pain doctor, and I have a regular doctor...and I have beads. I won't say the beads are more effective than the physicians, because they aren't...but they're a lot more fun, and *I* control *them*. If I need to feel in control, beading can do it.

More important than their mood enhancing effects, my beading is a mood indicator.  If I want to feel organized, I work at making my bead room neat and useful. If I want to feel amazing, I bead things my kids love. What I've done during the day helps me understand how I feel, and is a very useful barometer for my family.

I feel admired, and loved, when my family wears pieces I've made. My husband has a few tie tacks he likes, and he loves the bra and panty charms I put on his key ring <g>. My kids have some pieces they begged me to make, certain things they brag about to their friends. And occasionally they "borrow" items, which--oddly--makes me feel good, too.

I made my first very dressy, brightly-colored, classic, eye-catching "set" for my husband's 2012 Christmas party. I used seeds and Swarovski and pearls in vivid shades and the compliments just rolled across the room. My husband thinks I should start selling the pendant and earrings (in different colors and combinations, of course), beginning with word-of-mouth advertising/sales from his coworkers. I think I will.

This is my world. Myself, my husband, and four children live in my world, too, as I live in theirs. Through them, my world touches dozens of people each day, hundreds every week. Each of those individuals have their own worlds. And so it goes, on and on, person by person.

Yes, beading can save the world. One bead at a time.

Laurkim wrote
on Mar 16, 2013 3:41 PM

Beading crosses all barriers financial, social and ages. I am 57 this year and I have a 90 year old active Legatee (war widow) as a dear friend. She is living in self contained bedsit within Legacy House. Many others are in this cluster housing and they are organised going out on their bus together to remain stimulated active members of the community. They have a hall in which they do craft etc., and have guest speakers address as many as 70 residents. I've been asked to to tell them of my beading journey and encourage them to begin theirs! So one is never too old! I admire these lovely old dears living life to its fullest and look forward to sharing my passion with  such a lively bunch of young at heart ladies.