Beading on Main

Beading on Main
July 18, 2012 Visit Madison

Just want to take a minute to introduce Laura Hodges, one of our volunteer bloggers.

Raised in suburban Indianapolis, Laura relishes her immersion in Madison. After graduating from nearby HanoverCollege, she has lived most of her adult life in Madison. She serves on the city council and volunteers for the Madison Main Street Program. Laura is married to Dan and has three grown children. Her granddaughter is the world’s smartest 2-year-old.

Since I outgrew weaving potholders for my mother, I haven’t considered myself too craft-y.  But I really do like the earrings I made – with a lot of help from manager Annalisa Strickland – at Main Street Beads, the beading nook at Madison Buy Design,118 E. Main St.

And I’m really excited about the very creative jewelry made by my two daughters-in-law, Pauline and Mae. They had fun and it was a great bonding experience for us.

Everybody loves beaded jewelry. The opportunity to pick your own favorite beads and design your own arrangement is almost irresistible. There’s no reason to resist at Main Street Beads, where the components are plentiful and the prices are low.

Annalisa helped get us started by pointing out some of the nice jewelry items for sale by local artisans. Madison Buy Design is an artisans mall, with booths devoted to stained glass, photography, needlework, cork art and those whimsical metal “Junkyard Dogs and Cats” and “Yardbirds.” Several excellent jewelry makers are represented in the mall.

Then she turned us loose in front of the big wall of beads. There are tiny seed pearls that you buy by the bag, spacer beads at 5 cents each, focal beads at 50 cents or more, all the way up to $20 and $28 for handblown glass beads.

Mae and I wanted to make earrings, while Pauline’s goal was a necklace. Pauline picked out glass beads in shades of gold, red, purple and champagne. I fell in love with some copper dragonflies.

Mae decided on red and green Kaleki Feathers. Kaleki is a pet green-winged macaw whose owners gather feathers during his normal molt. You can check out his plumage at

Then we sat down near the window on Main Street to turn our visions into wearable art. We were novices, so Annalisa turned our visit into an impromptu class. (Anyone can sign up for a two-hour jewelry-making class. It’s $10 per person, plus materials.)

All the tools are there, and Annalisa demonstrated each step. I have to say, my daughters-in-law were more hands-on than I. Annalisa found that she hadn’t stocked any copper ear wires, so she ended up making me some very shapely ear wires herself. The girls were able to do more of the handwork themselves, although Annalisa’s help was needed to anchor the feathers on Mae’s earrings.

We learned a lot of new terms: headpins, crimp beads and bicones, for example. We’ll have a better idea what we’re doing next time we go back. And we’ll definitely have more appreciation for the fine handmade jewelry we see for sale at Madison Buy Design and otherMadisonshops.

If you’d like to try your hand on making your own beaded jewelry, contact 812-801-1102 or


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