A couple of years ago I started a group for swapping beads. The idea was to put together a box of things you didn’t want anymore — leftovers from a strand, things you had too many of, things you hadn’t used in ages — and send them to a designated share partner.
Each month I got a box in my mailbox. Some things were wonderful, some things, not so much. But in every single package, I found beads that I ordinarily would never have bought, and they ignited a creative spark. By receiving beads that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen myself, I’ve been able to create some wonderful pieces that otherwise would never even have been thought of.
I received this amazonite briolette — and this immediately came to mind.
These funky, chunky glass beads with a pebbly finish made a really cool cha-cha necklace.
The deep blue beads are natural Brazilian agate — just three of these beads, plus a smaller companion, made an unusual bracelet that sold immediately.
For this one, the giver said, “I don’t have any idea what that thing is for”, and after looking at it for a while, I decided it could be a branch, carried off to become part of a nest….
So if you’re stuck in a creative rut, or want to challenge yourself to think outside of the proverbial box, get together with a friend and do a bead swap. You never know what you’ll get, and you just might find a new design path altogether.