Kathleen Manning’s favorite part about teaching beading at Beadazzled in DC’s Dupont Circle is seeing “the light bulb suddenly go on” when students realize their creative potential. Manning says even “nonartistic” types can be good at making jewelry.
Students often bring in magazine pictures of what they’d like to create—from layered chains to necklaces made with chunky gemstones. “Every taste across the board can be satisfied with beads,” Manning says. “The possibilities are endless.”
The last few years have seen a fashion trend toward costume jewelry and embellishments, making beading a popular way to add color and personality to an outfit.
Manning’s students will often wake up early and make themselves a new pair of earrings or a bracelet before work. “There’s nothing like getting a compliment on jewelry you made yourself,” she says.
Here are good places to buy beads and take jewelry classes:
Beadazzled (1507 Connecticut Ave., NW, 202-265-2323; Tysons Corner Center, 703-848-2323; beadazzled.net) offers more than 20 classes from introduction to beading to lessons in advanced wiring. Introductory workshops are $33. Reservations required. Stores sell a wide range of beads and tools.
The Corcoran College of Art & Design’s continuing-education program (1801 35th St., NW; 202-298-2541; corcoran.edu/ce) offers weeklong workshops in topics such as bracelet and pendant making and semesterlong courses in subjects like soldering, casting, and stone setting. Prices generally range from $225 to $720.
S&A Beads (6929 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park; 301-891-2323; beadstore.com) offers $30 basic beading and $40 advanced classes twice a month in addition to fancier topics like metal-wire wrapping. Specialties include African and glass beads and charms.
At the Art League (105 N. Union St., Alexandria; 703-683-2323; theartleague.org) , students learn to work with gold, silver, copper, stones, and beads. Topics include chain making, enameling, glass fusing, metal texturing, simple stone setting, finishing, wax-model casting, and tools and their uses. Classes range from $160 to $240 and from one-day workshops to nine-week courses; many are suitable for beginners.
—Mary Clare Fleury