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Bead Bazaar is excited to feature one of our favorite ceramic artists as October’s Artist of the month. Jean Christen, the Clay Genie, is a talented Washington State studio potter whose distinctive beads have entranced us, and we’ll be offering an extended collection of the Clay Genie’s beads until the end of October. While we’ve introduced you to her work before, we wanted to share some of her story.

Jean started as an apprentice for a potter on Vashon Island at the age of 18, and has been a potter for over 40 years now. Being a studio potter is more of a lifestyle than a job for her.  She works with great dedication for long hours- sometimes staying awake and working for 24 hours at a time- and is rewarded with beautiful results. She credits her success to her unique style and devoted work ethic.

During her apprenticeship, Jean’s love of beads led her to try something new; the type of firing she does is a studio pottery technique, and applying that technique to beads is a trait unique to Jean’s work. Throughout her career Jean had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling and worked in many studios around the country. During this time she was able to sell her beads and found that her work and aesthetic always had an appeal, partially because of how unique it was. This success has kept her going and allowed her to dedicate her time to her pottery.

As a studio potter with a penchant for making beautiful beads and pendants Jean employs her own reduction glaze mix.  A technique developed in China, reduction glazes force the oxygen out of the clay itself, producing the glittery effect of the glaze. Colors are not always predictable, as temperature variations can produce dramatically different and unique effects. Liquefied glazes running and blending with each other can also created one-of-a-kind color combinations.

Jean goes through spurts of focusing on making pots or beads and is always experimenting with new glazes or design ideas. After 40 years, she finds making her pieces to be fun and meditative.  She never stops learning or finding new ideas. Jean finds the medium itself to be very inspiring and whether she’s making a bead or a pot, she tries to put as much beauty, color, and symbolism as she can into the piece.

Inspired by ethnic folk art, she finds beauty in the imperfect details with its sense of organic beauty rather than machined precision. She is also inspired by the details of traditional Tibetan, Islamic, and Persian art.  Jean’s highly detailed and refined aesthetic reflects these inspirations; all of her pieces are unique and organic with incredible detail. As an artist Jean loves knowing that people treasure her pieces and hopes their beauty continues to give them pleasure, whether it a piece worn around their neck or displayed in their home.

Considering her passion for clay it’s not surprising that Jean’s other passion- gardening is also tied to the earth. She started gardening when her three sons were born and loves it, finding similarities between working a lump of clay and planting a seed.  For each there’s a process and an end result coming from the minerals of the earth. Jean fondly jokes about getting her hands out of the wet clay and glazes and putting them into the compost, keeping her hands in the earth in one way or the other.  She also stays busy spending time with her 10 grandchildren and teaching classes at the Orient School. After offering classes for 102 years, the Orient School is the oldest school in the state of Washington!

Since being a studio potter is more a life style than a job, it isn’t really something one retires from, and Jean intends to continue on as an artist well into an advance age. She admiringly mentioned a woman who lived and worked as a studio potter until the age of 103! While the work is physically demanding, Jean looks at it optimistically: it keeps her physically active, and as a potter gets older they just need to pace themselves more. We look forward to seeing Jean’s continued work and experimentation, and are just thrilled by what has been achieved by such a talented Washington State artist.


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Bead Bazaar is proud to announce our participation in Fairhaven’s 7th annual Girls’ Night Out fundraiser on Friday, May 11th. We’ll be open and stamping passports from 4:00pm-8:00pm.


Girls' Night Out Bead Bazaar Door Prize
Make sure to drop off a raffle ticket for our fabulous door prize! This year we’re giving away a necklace and earrings fit for a night on the town. Vintaj filigree is wrapped around a stunning focal crystal and accompanied by rich olive beads . Treat yourself to the chance of winning this fabulous set, valued at $50!

In the spirit of Girls’ Night Out, Bead Bazaar is inviting you to think pink. For one day only, all loose beads in shades of pink will be 25% off. Sale items include Swarovski crystals, rose quartz, pearls, and more!

Don’t miss our entry in this year’s fashion show! Bead Bazaar employee Jessica will be strutting her stuff down the runway in a hand-made chain dress. Make sure to catch this dramatic piece! The fashion show will be held at the Ferry Terminal at 9pm.

Want more info about Girls’ Night Out? Visit their webpage and show them some love! We’ll be seeing you Friday night!

~Bead Bazaar

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Whether used for prayer or meditation, there’s no denying the soothing qualities of gently running the beads through your fingers as your count or pray. In many cultures, this is a long-used practice; different beads are given different meanings which you reflect upon as you use them. Some prayer beads, like Malas and Rosaries, follow a design with specific numbers of beads. Others are more free-form, a set of beads strung to correspond with a specific prayer or that just reflects your spirituality. A couple of good books which discuss building prayer beads are Bead One, Pray Too and A String and a Prayer.

With an upcoming workhop on making prayer beads, the Bead Bazaar is reposting a previous blog entry. This original blog entry was published August 12th, 2010.

The Bellingham Bead Bazaar is pleased to announce that we now carry a selection of Buddha Beads. Also called “power beads”, Buddha Beads are the round, three-holed bead found at the end of a Mala. Our Buddha Beads come with a matching cylindrical bead to feed your thread through and end off the project. Malas are the prayer beads used by Buddhists for meditation. They consist of 108 equally sized beads, preferably something smooth for ease of handling. The beads are used as counters and run through your hands as you pray. Buddha Beads can be difficult to find on their own, but with these new beauties in stock, it’s now easier than ever to construct a customized Mala.

Another common set of prayer beads takes form in the Rosary. Used by Catholics, Rosaries consist of 5 groups of 10 beads, representing repeated prayers to Mary. These are spaced by 4 larger beads, representative of the Lord’s Prayer. Rosaries typically feature a Y-piece at the end. These Y-pieces will often have images of Mary, and connect to another three beads and a crucifix. Not only is the Bead Bazaar the place for a wealth of beads, but we also carry some rosary pieces, both in sterling and silver plate. Choose from a variety of crosses for the end, or use a traditional crucifix.

-Bead Bazaar

Buddhist or Catholic, Jewish or Pagan, you’re sure the find the perfect devotional pieces at the Bead Bazaar! Our diverse selection includes the Star of David, the Hand of Fatima, Goddesses, Pentacles, and many other symbols. Make sure to check our stock for the religious symbols of your choosing, and perhaps take the opportunity to make a piece that means something special to you. We’ll be seeing you soon!

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In preparation for Valentine’s Day the Bead Bazaar is hosting a day-long heart-themed workshop! This workshop is divided into three sessions, each featuring different beading projects. Come with a friend or Valentine and learn how to make these love-ly beaded projects:

Valentine’s Workshop Session #1: Toggle Pendant Necklace & Heart Bracelet

Click Image for Session #1 Details

Valentine’s Workshop Session #2: Floating Hearts Necklace & Beginning Earrings

Click Image for Session#2 Details

Valentine’s Workshop Session #3: Memory Wire Bracelet & Wire-Wrapped Heart Earrings

Click Image for Session #3 Details

Who can say no to such heat-warmingly cute projects? Details about cost, registration, and required supplies can be found on our website at our Workshops page. Feel free to come by or call with any questions, and be on the look-out for more workshops in the future! Happy Beading!

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In Store Class Book

Oh the leaves outside are turning,
And as Fall is the season for learning,
While we cozy up and eat pumpkins seeds,
Let us bead, Let us bead, Let us bead!

The imagery of fall; a ripe orange pumpkin, fuzzy sweaters, and freshly sharpened pencils as people go back to school. Why not join them and become a Student Beader at the Bellingham Bead Bazaar? We offer many fun projects for beaders at any level of expertise, and have recently printed a class book to have in store. Feel free to come by and flip through its pages as you decide which techniques you’d love to learn. The classes we currently offer include Feather Earrings, a Wrapped Cord Bracelet, Kid’s Projects and many others! Our new book outlines all of the nitty gritty class details: time, fee, and supply list. We then arrange the class to meet your schedule and voila! Remember, our class space can accommodate up to 6 students, so make sure to bring a beading buddy!

If you can’t make it to the store, our class book is also available here on our website. All details and sample images can be found in one spot, allowing you to plan ahead on your next trip to the Bead Bazaar!

Be on the lookout for more changes on our website, including a soon-to-come Events section, which will provide details on our Beading Brunch, sales, parties, and much more!

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Working at a bead store means constant exposure to exciting new trends, and while chunky chains and Steampunk motifs made a strong showing, feathers reigned supreme over the entire summer and are easily working in with fall styles. From hair extensions to fascinators to earrings, everyone is accessorizing with these lightweight wonders. With any new trend comes a new realm of crafting, and we’ve been getting many inspired people with questions about working with feathers. How are they best attached to earrings? Do they need to be sterilized? Can beading crimps work for putting the extensions in your hair? Where can feathers be found? . . .

We’ve compiled all of our answers here for any inquisitive crafter that wants work with feathers:

Q. How can I make a pair of feather earrings?
A. One of our recommended methods of making feathered earrings is to use a cord crimp.

To make feather earrings with cord crimps, simply lay the stems of your feathers in the center of a cord crimp. Ensure that the loop of the crimp points away from the feathers and place a small amount of glue in the crimp. Then fold each side of the crimp over to grip the stem of the feather into place. Because cord crimps have a loop at the end, that can hook directly to the ear wire.

Click Image to Enlarge

If you’re an experienced wire-wrapper, creating a wire-wrapped loop and wire-wrapping around the stem of the feather is another method of attaching them to ear wires.

Q. Where can I find feathers?
A. Right here at the Bead Bazaar! With how popular accessorizing with feathers has become, we’ve had many requests for feathers or questions regarding where they can be found, so we’ve decided to carry them! We currently carry hackle feathers in grays, browns, and coppery tones as well as peacock eyes and spears. We’ve constructed a couple samples with our feathers and will be offering classes and free demonstrations showing how to construct feather earrings. Other sources: While fish and tackle shops generally carry feathers for lures, fly tiers don’t always appreciate having their stock depleted by beaders. Craft stores usually carry a selection of feathers, but the popularity of this trend means that suppliers are having a hard time keeping up with demand. The internet is of course always available. If you’re thinking of collecting feathers from the park or your back yard, remember that there are policies and laws in place regarding the ownership of found feathers, and make sure to read up on them.

Q. Do beading crimps work for attaching feathered hair extensions?
A. . . . Maybe . . . The thing is, a beading crimp is a metal piece designed to grip into a stainless steel cable and permanently affix a clasp. If used on something like thread, a beading crimp can cut through it (yes, I’ve done that before on accident). That said, we’ve had a few customers report success while using our crimp beads. This may be due to the shape of the crimp. Some of our crimp beads are tube crimps with smooth sides and no ridges at the edges, while other crimps curved inward and have a ridge around the edge for gripping. So who knows, maybe tube-shaped crimps work just fine. Whenever we sell our beading crimps for feathered hair extensions, we feel it’s only fair to warn people of the potential for crimps to cut right through hair. If you’re concerned about using beading crimps, special plastic crimps (which we do not carry) have been designed for use with feathered hair extensions.

Q. Do feathers need to be sterilized before working with them?
A. Probably not. All of our feathers come sterilized, and one of Bellingham’s local tackle shops has confirmed that all of their feathers are sterilized, but if you’re unsure, feel free to ask your local shops. As for the bleached/dyed feathers available from craft suppliers, it’s a safe bet that they won’t sell unsterilized materials. However, when in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

We hope this was a helpful guide to answer any feather inquiries! Feel free to comment with your own hints or questions. As always, the Bead Bazaar staff is more than willing to answer them.

~Bead Bazaar

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In the spirit of community crafting, the Bellingham Bead Bazaar is going to start hosting Beading Brunches! Held on the first Sunday of each month, beaders are welcome to bring any current beading projects (or begin new ones) and use our work space to socialize with others. Beaders are welcome to share wisdom and creative ideas, and if there’s any tools you’d love to try, feel free to ask! We have bailing pliers, a metal holepunch, and hammers and anvils at your disposal, as well as many others.


This is the perfect opportunity to share hints and tips with fellow beaders and compare projects! Invite your friends or come to make new ones at our first meeting, Sunday October 1st, from 10:00am-12:00pm. You provide the creativity, and Bead Bazaar will be providing coffee and pastries. To allow us to prepare, please RSVP no later than the day before each brunch at 360-671-5655. Cost is $5 to cover the refreshments.

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