Just because you can’t make it to Mardi Gras in New Orleans next week doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun. Beantown may not host parades or allow drinking in the streets, but you can get some beads ’round here, and you can even learn to make necklaces much nicer than those thrown off the floats down south. Another advantage to the homemade version: no one will expect you to flash anything except a few dollars to get them.
At the Boston Center for Adult Education, for example, you can create a one-of-a-kind beaded necklace while learning a knotting technique. The one-day class on European knotted beaded necklaces ($38 plus a materials fee) is being offered on March 22 and April 12. For those who want to take things a step further, you can also sign up for the BCAE’s glass-bead-making class ($179) on March 29, where you’ll learn all the basics of creating your own beads. It’ll even cover how to turn your home into a bead-making studio.
Along the same lines, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education offers a class on designing and making beaded jewelry ($83 plus a materials fee) on April 5, where students will learn basic techniques, and design and make a few pieces of jewelry.
For more advanced beaders, artist Wendy Ellsworth will teach a two-day class April 6 and 7 that will cover techniques used to make one of her very intricate necklaces ($160). The class, held at the Crystal Blue Beading Co. in Watertown, is for experienced beaders. While you’re there, you can also check out the store’s selection; it specializes in small glass beads that cost anywhere from $3 for a package of about 4000 beads to $100 for a single handmade bead.
Beadworks, which sells just about every kind of bead you can imagine at its Cambridge and Boston locations, also offers classes in how to use what you buy ($25–$45). You can learn knotting techniques, how to string beads, and how to work with wire. Classes are held most weeks.
People just looking to stock up on beads can check out the Divine Bead Festival on April 13 at the Holiday Inn in Dedham. Twenty vendors will be on hand selling all kinds of beads — including antique, crystal, silver, handmade, and clay varieties. It costs $4 to get into what the organizer calls a "nonstop, frantic bead-buying frenzy."
And if you don’t want to leave your house on a cold winter’s day, you can always hit the Internet (or use more old-fashioned mail-order methods). The Boston Bead Company only opens its Newton doors a few times a year to shoppers, but it sells all the time through its catalogue and the Web.
Where to find it:
• Beadworks, 167 Newbury Street, Boston, (617) 247-7227; 23 Church Street, Cambridge, (617) 868-9777.
• Boston Bead Company, 25 Aberdeen Street, Newton, (617) 332-6588; www.bostonbead.com.
• Boston Center for Adult Education, 5 Comm Ave, Boston, (617) 267-4430; www.bcae.org.
• Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 42 Brattle Street, Cambridge, (617) 547-6789; www.ccae.org.
• Crystal Blue Beading Co., 565 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, (617) 923-2337.
• Divine Bead Festival, Holiday Inn, 55 Ariadne Road, Dedham; firstname.lastname@example.org.