Life Lessons Learned from a Bead Board

Those of us who are beadaholics know that part of the addiction to making jewelry comes from the fact that you never stop learning. Whether you are exploring a new technique, tool, medium, or material, it seems as though there is always something to discover. I have noticed in my years of designing that beading has taught me a lot about myself and a lot of valuable lessons that can be applied not just to my bead board but to life in general.

A few things I have learned along the way:

1. Frustration only breeds more frustration. Have you ever noticed that the more frustrated you get, the more negative you get, and the more this whole cycle of frustration and negativity hampers your creativity? The things we tell ourselves when we feel like we can’t do something are the very things that block us from being able to do that something. The solution: walk away from the bead board and return when you feel refreshed, relaxed, and more positive about yourself and your work.

 2. Patience really is a virtue. Most people assume that designers—or creative types of any kind—are always “on” and just have those creative juices flowing all the time. This just simply isn’t true. I can’t tell you how many times I have had an idea in my head only to find that the piece isn’t working out quite the way I envisioned it or only to find that the pattern I am working on just isn’t going to measure out the way it should. All the creativity in the world won’t help solve the problem; patience is the only real solution. My favorite, most original pieces have come from a perfect fusion of creativity and patience.

3. Work from your strengths, not from your weaknesses. A few months ago, we went through a strengths training workshop to discover what really moved, motivated, and inspired us. This changed the way I thought about beading—and life. Admittedly, I am not a person who likes repetition so I don’t like creating the same finished piece over and over again nor do I like making long necklaces (especially if they are straight strung or wire wrapped). Knowing what I don’t enjoy frees me to concentrate on the things I do love so I can grow and further my knowledge in those areas. I learned that it is okay not to be a jack-of-all-trades and it is perfectly fine to spend more time doing what you love.

One of the biggest perks of my job (besides being amongst beautiful beads all day long!) is hearing from people whose lives have been touched by the amazing rewards beading can bring. What life lessons have you learned from your experience as a beader? When you walk away from your bead board, what emotions do you have when you have finished a piece that has that “wow” factor? Share your experiences with me—and your fellow beaders—by commenting below!

Shanna Steele, Auntie’s Beads Designer

Shanna Steele

Shanna Steele is a product manager and occasional jewelry designer for Auntie's Beads. When she is not playing in the beads, she enjoys reading, listening to music, cooking - especially baking - and good times in the great outdoors.

1 Comment

  • Reply April 10, 2014


    Beading was my saving grace this past wicked winter. I don’t know what I would have done all those days and hours stuck in because of the weather. I made a great bracelet from a design I saw in Bead and Button magazine and I also learned how to make kumihimo pieces. I’m still practicing beaded kumihimo…that can be tricky but I am trying to be patient with myself as I work at mastering it.

    Thanks for your blogs. They always seem to hit the right note…or should I say “bead”. : )


Leave a Reply