Green and orange beading at piece

Beading with Beauty at piece

My love for beaded jewelry began many years ago, when my sister worked in a bead shop. Susanna and I would pick out beads together and then she would make bracelets and earrings and necklaces for both of us. I don’t think it ever occurred to me to try beading myself; I’m not crafty like my sister is.

But my jewelry collection kept growing. The bead love intensified when I moved to South Africa, where beadwork is everywhere.

I was recently invited to a beading class at piece, a beautiful African arts and crafts shop in downtown Johannesburg. (I wrote about piece in my #Gauteng52 post on Ellis House earlier this year.) The classes are led by Beauty Maswanganyi, a master beading artisan and long-time staff member at piece.

Beauty Maswanganyi teaching a beading class at pieceBeauty helps get a bracelet started at the beginning of the class. Beauty has a pretty good track record as far as jewelry-making goes: Past clients of hers include Oprah and Michelle Obama (!)

I did not excel at beading. (Learning to bead is hard for left-handers. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) But it didn’t matter because this class was so freaking fun, and I went home with my own beautiful bracelet that I (kind of) made myself. Also piece is a beautiful place to spend a Saturday morning, drinking good coffee and gazing at well curated arts and crafts.

Beading with Beauty, in Pictures

Beads on a towel at the beading classThe beginning of my bracelet. I learned a lot about beads during the class. Proper glass beads are only manufactured in a few places around the world and most of South Africa’s glass beads are imported from the Czech Republic. Plastic beads are much cheaper and more ubiquitous but lower in quality.

Fun with beadsFun with beads.

Laurice picks up her beadsLaurice prepares to pick up a bead with her needle. It’s a very relaxing activity.

Beauty fixes my beadingBeauty fixes my mistakes. We spent about four hours making a bracelet that Beauty could finish in 30 or 40 minutes.

Andrea beadingAndrea was the star of the class.

Green and orange beading at pieceAndrea’s bracelet, nearly finished. 

Bracelet nearly finishedMy own bracelet nears completion, thanks mostly to Beauty’s colleague Thabo.

Thabo finishing my bracelet Thabo puts the finishing touches on my bracelet.

Finished products at beading classEveryone’s finished products. Andrea was so good that she made a ring after finishing her bracelet.

Beauty’s beading classes are a steal at R350 (about $26) for a four-hour class, including snacks and coffee/tea. And of course you go home with a beautiful bracelet. There’s another class coming up on 22 July, which you can sign up for here. Follow piece on Facebook for updates about future classes.

My beading class at piece was complimentary. (Thanks Eugenie!) Opinions expressed are mine.

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6 Comments

  • Reply autumnashbough July 14, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    I am amazed that no one has a magnifying glass or even reading glasses in these photos! Those beads are tiny.

    The closest I got to beading was weaving and rainbow loom with young relatives. I really liked rainbow loom, actually. But that fad disappeared.

    • Reply 2summers July 15, 2017 at 7:21 am

      Oh yes, I used to make pot holders on a little loom. Is that what you mean? I also loved it.

      • Reply autumnashbough July 15, 2017 at 5:34 pm

        This was a miniature loom, complete with a shuttle and a warp. We made an actual piece of cloth, though it wasn’t very big.

        • Reply 2summers July 15, 2017 at 5:35 pm

          Oh wow cool!

          • autumnashbough July 15, 2017 at 5:40 pm

            Yes, so I wrecked it by traumatizing my niece with stories of little kids losing fingers catching the shuttle in the mills during the industrial revolution.

          • 2summers July 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm

            😂

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