Thousands of beads and a show in 4 days


If you are going to be in Ellsworth, Maine this weekend, stop by at the Ramada Inn (old Holiday Inn) and check out the talented company I’ll be keeping at the Beads Baubles and Fleece Downeast show!

This is going to be a great opportunity to see some friends I haven’t seen in a while, and to see what they’ve been creating lately. It is also a chance to de-stash my own studio a bit as I offer some beads I haven’t used in a while.

Once upon a time, before PMC was invented, I made a lot of my own polymer clay beads. I created colorful canes to slice fire and drill so I would have plenty of 8 to 10mm  beads to use in multi-strand, multi-colored necklaces.


I like all kinds of beads, but I love making my own beads to use in combination with others. For many years these Fimo beads fit the bill. I could make canes and slice them into beads all day long. I made many many necklaces with them. Then, in 1998, Fred Woell introduced me to a product from Mitsubishi Materials known as Precious Metal Clay. I learned to make beads from silver that started out as a moldable metal clay. Once the “clay” was fired, and the binder burned away, I had beads of pure silver. Eventually I said goodbye to the polymer clay, and stored my many handmade beads high on a shelf in my studio.

Once in a while I would get a request for a beaded necklace like the one above, but the beads mostly stayed out of sight and out of mind…until I applied to the Beads Baubles and Fleece show. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what someone else might do with my beads if they were for sale. I dug out the boxes of Fimo beads and I was shocked at the number I had put away. There must be thousands. (unfortunately, some of them were never drilled so I still have some work to do before selling them.)

These boxes represent hours and hours of work. I have no idea how to price them, but I will come up with a plan before Friday. Bruce suggested selling them by weight, using a scoop. It sounds like a pretty good idea.

I will also have some jewelry for sale at my booth, though I’m running out of time to finish more necklaces. I’ve never sold beads or components before, but it’s an idea I’ve had in the back of my mind for a few months since I like to buy beads and components from other artists on Etsy.  I enjoy making beads so much, I wonder what it would feel like to stop at that point and sell them, rather than work them into necklaces or earrings.

As I get ready to sell beads I’ve made, and an assortment of other beads I bought but haven’t used in a while I’m thinking:

What if I have the prices too high and I can’t sell them? What if I have the prices too low and I piss off other sellers at the show? What if I sell beads I really like and then wish I had kept them? What if I sell everything on the first day? What if I sell nothing in two days? What if my display looks cheesy, tacky, unprofessional?

What do you know? My insecurities about selling beads at a show are the same insecurities I have about selling jewelry at a show. Only this time I’ll have both beads and jewelry for sale. It’s time for me to remember that I’m not the only one who feels this way before a show. Maybe I could just lighten up and decide to have a good time no matter what. But first…I have a few holes to drill….




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15 responses to “Thousands of beads and a show in 4 days

  1. Wow, wow, wow. I am so impressed and amazed both by the sheer volume of beads you created and by their detailed beauty – like little candies that last forever. Amazing! :)


  2. Oh your beads look so… delicious! I want to run my hands through them. Someday, when I live in Maine, I will go to a show like that… just thinking about it makes my heart beat a little faster…


  3. Sally

    Barb – you wrote: “created colorful canes to slice fire and drill”

    What are the “canes”? Maybe that’s more accurately put “why are they called canes”? And how are they made? (prob related to the word canes?)

    That’s a lot of beads! I love these photos. Where cd we get good quality clasps? And whatever they get strung on?

    As for feeling nervous before a show, it’s a good thing. I knew a professional musician, a gifted organist who’d started playing professionally when he was 10, and when he was playing at a recital or concert in his 60s, he was still nervous before it started. Didn’t matter how many times he’d played a piece before. He said if he ever got to a concert/recital and _wasn’t_ nervous, it wd be time to retire. (Just don’t be nervous when you drill into them.)

    Last forever like plastic? Not at all like plastic (which melts nastily). An archaeologist who found things made of these wd be thrilled – even just one of the containers full of unused ones.


    • Barb Fernald

      Sally, I’ll get back to you with a longer answer. I’m off to catch the 8:15 boat. I think there will be plenty of beading supplies for sale at the show. ie. Clasps and stringing supplies.


    • Barb Fernald

      Sally, here’s a link for a youtube video of someone explaining how to make a cane.
      In polymer clay, the word “cane” refers to a glass technique, where glass blowers pull a piece of hot glass into a long cane. with polymer, you start with a thick log of a design and roll it into a thinner longer log or cane. The design inside stays intact but reduces in size. All those itty bitty bead designs started out as a short thick cylinder.


  4. Your beads are gorgeous and I’m sure they will sell. I also know about the nervous and that will never go away, so just act like it’s all fun and if you sell something (which you will) it’s gravy!!!!


  5. holly

    just WOW. i had no idea.
    you’re always surprising me…


  6. Barb, not that I like when others have insecurities, but it’s nice to hear that someone that I look up to and whose work I greatly admire has the same insecurities. We often think everyone around us “has it together” but I think there are more people than we know that feel this way. It’s so nice to see you and your beautiful stuff at the show!


    • Barb Fernald

      Thanks, Lisa. I always think everyone else “has it together.” It’s great to see you at the show. I’m so impressed with all of your beautiful bronze and copper clay work. I was so happy to see you at the show, especially when I was just starting to get set up. “Someone I know!”
      I hope we both have a LOT of customers today. see you there!


  7. Jackie Haines

    Great to see you, as usual. I love the idea of selling supplies at a venue like this-it’s a great way to connect with other bead/jewelry people!


    • Barb Fernald

      It was really nice to see you there too. I should have called you earlier, then I would have known just how much of a bead venue it was. D’oh. I had a good time and I wish I could see what people make from the beads they bought from me. I will definitely do it again next fall. If I get the clam shell /seed bead piece done, I’ll send you a photo! I just hope to get into the studio at least one day this week. Between my mom’s appointments and mine I have to be off island on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Argh! Maybe next week…….


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