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Satisfy Your Bead Needs

For any beading enthusiast or, for that matter, anyone looking to take up beading as a hobby, San Francisco has a variety of good places scattered around town to choose from. All seem to offer their own charms, but if you don’t know where to start, a good place to visit is Forbeadin’ on Church Street at 24th in Noe Valley.

The shop, tucked into a small pocket near the J-Church Muni line, is a bright little place presided over by proprietor Donna Davis. Donna’s interest in beadwork started back when she was putting embellishments on puppets at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. Donna’s appreciation for beadwork continued to grow over the years, but she spent a few years exploring other modes of employment before she decided to open the store at its original spot in the Marina more than 14 years ago. She moved the shop to its current spot about eight years ago.

I asked Donna what makes her store different from other bead stores in the city, and she told me one of her employees likes to say that it’s the “eye". That is, it’s the selection. They offer a supply of semiprecious gemstones, centerpieces, Czech glass, vintage glass, lampworked glass as well as sterling silver, 14k gold filled and 14k gold findings and beads. They don’t carry any plastic beads. A wide array of tools and beading supplies are also available for the production of your project.

For such a small shop, it does have an impressive stock of basic and novelty beads. Just grab a little cupcake tin by the door and start picking the pieces for your crafty creation. Most of the beads are arranged by color and type in little tins. Along the wall hang beads sold by the strand. The basic single beads come in all colors and sizes and regularly run from about 25 cents to a dollar each. The novelty beads include rust colored beads for 35 cents, a double spiral “s” for $1.50, pink flowers old German glass for $1.50. If you’d like to create a charm bracelet, there are little trinkets such as silver fishes ($1.35), stars ($1.25) and turtles ($1.50).

The employees at Forbeadin’ are a friendly crew and are available to chat with you about the bead-working process. If you’re working on your own creations, Forbeadin’ can help you design your own pieces, in addition to repairing jewelry.

For those who want to learn a little more about how to make the best of their beadwork in a structured setting, Forbeadin’ offers a variety of classes for all levels. It keeps the class sizes to no more than six students, giving ample time for one-on-one teaching instruction. Just this past winter and fall, classes included beginning techniques ($45), beginning knotting ($45) and wire wrapping/chandelier earrings ($50). Preregistration is required for all classes. Materials are included in some classes. Check the website for details and a list of upcoming classes.

If you’re not ready to create your own pieces yet, but would like to pick up a unique hand-crafted treasure, you can find leather and silver earrings for $18.00 or turquoise and sterling silver earrings for $16.00, blue flower-like brooches for $12.00, a glass pendant in the shape of a jigsaw for $15.00, and a vintage blue glass button for $19.00.

You can also work with the folks at Forbeadin’ to create a custom piece for any special occasion. For example, if you’re planning a wedding, Forbeadin’ can work with you to create jewelry and accessories for you and your bridal party that will reflect your own style and fit your budget, no matter what it is. What you can create is only limited by your imagination. From hairpieces embellished with pearls, crystals and gemstones to dainty and dazzling necklaces and earrings, they’ll get the job done. Each project will start off with a consultation with the staff to find out what your needs and spending plan are.

In addition, for a fun idea for a night with friends, try a jewelry making party at home or at Forbeadin’. Contact the store for details.