Bead-weaving: It's The Journey That Matters

Jul 17, 2013
Renowned bead artist Marcia DeCoster is today's Beading Daily guest blogger

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end." -- Ursula K. Le Guin

When you sit down to work on a bead weaving project, do you ever consider how valuable your time is? Every minute, every hour, every second that goes into creating that finished piece of beadwork increases your skill at bead-weaving and creating beaded jewelry. Just like a pilot logs hours during a flight, you should look at the time you spend on your beading projects as time well-spent.

Today's guest blogger, Marcia DeCoster, feels the same way I do about time spent with our bead-weaving projects. Read on to learn more about why you should cherish and value the time you spend with your beads!


Above: Dreamkeeper Vessel rings

Below: Dancing Light necklace

Below: En Pointe bracelet
If you have ever done bead-weaving in public you may have heard 'You must be really patient' or 'Wow, you must have really good eyesight' or 'How long does that take?'

I often bead on planes and trains, in airports and at coffee shops so I've heard many versions of those questions. It may be that they make sense from coming from anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of working with the bead weaver's medium of tiny glass beads and quite possibly the occasional crystal or pearl.

For those of us who have been captivated by bead-weaving however, I think we see it differently. In fact I believe the act of picking up tiny beads with needle and thread gives me patience where I may have lacked it before. There is something so meditative about stitching one tiny bead at a time to create a woven fabric. The colors, choice of beading stitch, choice of shape, and choice of beading thread all contribute to the beauty of what we will ultimately create, and in that I find a sense of well-being that allows me to patiently await the outcome.

Fortunately we have many choices in eye wear and lighting to help us see those tiny little beads for bead-weaving. I think that the time spent searching for and using the correct tools are important in every artistic venture we pursue, and can make a difference in our finished piece.

As for 'How long does that take?' The length of time spent bead-weaving rarely matters to me, since the process is as much of the reward as the outcome. The pleasure I get from carving out time in each day to work with beads and bead-weaving has sustained my creative expression for the last twenty years, and I don't see it ending any time soon!

In our community of bead-weavers, we are certainly enjoying a time where this art form continues to evolve into more and more beautiful pieces, and the collective talent I see every day never ceases to amaze me.

If you're looking for a way to spend some quality time with your beads and learn some new bead-weaving skills, check out Craft Daily. You'll find over one hundred videos covering all kinds of crafting techniques, including jewelry-making and bead-weaving, as well as crochet, knitting, sewing, and mixed media art. For the cost of one online class somewhere else, you can have one month of access to the entire Craft Daily library of videos from some of our favorite bead artists like Melinda Barta and Melanie Potter! Subscribe to Craft Daily and discover just how valuable your time spent bead-weaving can be.

How do you feel about bead-weaving projects that take a lot of time to complete? Do you feel that your time is well spent when you finish a technically challenging piece of beaded jewelry? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your thoughts with us!

Bead Happy,


Marcia's love for beautiful jewelry and the desire to create her own designs brought Marcia to beads in the early 1990's. Marcia designs colorful and fun to wear jewelry and shares her designs through teaching and writing. Remembering her own early attempts, Marcia recognizes that everyone learns differently and so takes great care to provide clear, concise and comprehensive instructions, graphics and text. Her work has been published widely, and her bead-weaving designs continue to be favored by beaders throughout the world. You can learn more about her, purchase kits for her bead-weaving designs, and see her schedule of classes at MadDesigns.


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on Jul 17, 2013 7:08 AM

Be proud what you have accomplished.  I do!!!

Abigail333 wrote
on Jul 17, 2013 8:04 AM

Bead weaving for me is a expression of joy that is colour and shape. To finish a especially challenging piece is an accomplishment and a addiction. It pushes me to new levels of my own personal creative expression. Nothing makes me happier to share my own work with others. Passing the time with bead weaving is relaxing. I never worry about spending time on it. In fact I work it into my day as much as I can.

on Jul 17, 2013 8:15 AM

It surely is the journey that matters....I whole heartley agree that there's nothing like having a pile of different beads and see it grow into something that you saw in your "mind's eye".   I may not have the greatest of imaginations when I look at some of the beaded creations out there but I still get a thrill when people see my work and tell me how I should sell my work....If only they could see some of the creations I've seen, they would probably tell me to "go sit down" somewhere....but yes it's a thrill to see your beads turn into something that was just a pile of beads a few days or months ago.

PennyM@15 wrote
on Jul 17, 2013 8:28 AM

I love bead weaving. Unfortunately, some of the magazines and books' instructions need to have a beta crafter before they're printed. How many times have I bought a publication and then all the necessary beads, etc., only to discover getting totally lost in the directions, then giving up. I recently bought I Can Herringbone and I Can Right Angle Weave and that's how stitches should be taught. I not only could do every piece in the books, but understood how the stitch is created. I'd like to see more books like this.

on Jul 17, 2013 8:56 AM

I started stringing beads a  few years ago and my mother and I were at a bead store in Florida where she saw a kit she wanted to buy.  I told her I would make it for her.  Well, the instructions were copied and some steps were missing but thanks to Beading Dreams in Dallas, Texas, the owner was able to help me figure out the correct steps.  it was so difficult and time-consuming but by the time I finished it it was beautiful and I did feel quite accomplished.  Needless to say, I had to send it to my mother so I don't get to enjoy it myself.  I would do it again.

on Jul 17, 2013 9:40 AM

I don't bead-I do chainmaille and get the same remarks. How do explain to someone that it's not the time, it's the feeling you get when you are in the "zone". No time, no troubles, no matter. It's all good!

redwiens wrote
on Jul 17, 2013 11:13 AM

I feel a bit frustrated when I offer a necklace for sale for $25.00 after spending 40 hours making it and people balk at paying that price.  Seed bead weaving is definitely a hobby for me and not a money-making project.

mellissa2 wrote
on Jul 17, 2013 12:26 PM

It is so true, I do always say the same thing, one has to have lots of patience! It is the journey, for me it's starts with peyote stitch bracelet and now I can say I have done it!

on Jul 17, 2013 12:36 PM

The amount of time that goes into a piece of bead-weaving is too difficult to explain in dollars to a non-beader.  So I do not sell my woven pieces any more. I would rather keep them or give them as gifts.  I love the process, from selecting the color palette, to choosing the beads, to allowing the beads to tell me what REALLY needs to happen, to sewing on the final bead, to the photographs.  The process! I so love beads and beading that I feel all gooshy right now.

Karel Reed wrote
on Jul 18, 2013 10:32 AM

I just made a Marcia DeCoster pattern for my very best friend who just graduated from Law School - a necklace of right-angle-weave pearls w/ a Rivoli in the center. I've made the piece before for the mother-of-the-bride for my neice's wedding & it's truly gorgeous. It was featured in B&B several yrs ago & I made a few changed in this version b/c I never make the very same thing twice! Thank you for your wonderful designs over the years, Marcia!!!

Karel Reed wrote
on Jul 18, 2013 10:32 AM

I just made a Marcia DeCoster pattern for my very best friend who just graduated from Law School - a necklace of right-angle-weave pearls w/ a Rivoli in the center. I've made the piece before for the mother-of-the-bride for my neice's wedding & it's truly gorgeous. It was featured in B&B several yrs ago & I made a few changed in this version b/c I never make the very same thing twice! Thank you for your wonderful designs over the years, Marcia!!!

floozette wrote
on Jul 18, 2013 11:31 PM

I have never done any bead weaving but I was thinking about it.  However I became very confused.  Do you use a backing of any kind?  If so, what it is and where do you get it?  If I were to try bead weaving it would be to make motifs suitable for appliqueing onto my embroidery.  I would really appreciate any help you can give me.

Thank you.

frozenmoon wrote
on Jul 20, 2013 5:06 AM

For me beadweaving is a meditation.  When I have the time to spend with my tiny "friends"  I relax into a state where every new bead added to the piece I am working on becomes a statement.  Coming up with color combinations and weaving variations soothes my soul.  Truly a beneficial process!

gragglou wrote
on Jul 20, 2013 9:44 AM

I used to knit, crochet, and quilt, but now I spend all my craft time making jewelry.  I got the bug going with a wire jewelry class, but I have worked my way back to my first love in jewelry-making, bead weaving.  I compare it to the first three mentioned in that it is a process taking lots of time, but the end product is so much more satisfying.  Every woman loves getting handmade things, and in my experience they enjoy jewelry far more than yarn.  Bead weaving doesn't lend itself to mass production, so there aren't too many projects that would be profitable to sell.  Just like a knit sweater, to charge by the hour would be a very poor wage.  But seeing those beads line up and colors come together is a beautiful thing!  Also must mention that Marcia DeCoster's patterns are the most beautiful I've found!

on Jul 21, 2013 12:13 AM

what time?, people stare at me in amazement if i say i spent 90 hours on a piece but to me i was just drifting in heaven

flo :)