Beading Societies

Jean Campbell, Founding Editor, Beadwork Magazine

For most beaders, there comes a time when you notice that your loved ones aren't quite as supportive of your hobby as they used to be. You catch them rolling their eyes each time you bubble over about a great local tearcher coming to town who you just have to meet, or they run for the hills when you start going on about your latest stash addition, or they just slump when you choose to forego their company in favor of a needle, thread, and some seed beads. If this is ringing all too true for you, waste no more time and join a local bead society.

Really? There are bead societies?
What exactly IS a bead society?

A bead society is an organized group of folks who love beads and beading as much as you do. It's different than just a bunch of beaders getting together, though. Bead Societies bring it up a notch by electing officials, holding monthly meetings, and throwing events such as book sales, bead bazaars, classes, and bead retreats.

There are elected officials?

Yep. Each bead society has a board elected by the general membership. Most societies have a president, a vice president, a programs chair, a newsletter coordinator, and a treasurer. Large bead societies have more expansive boards that support other programs, such as an events chair for a bead show. These are all volunteer positions, and a bead society can't exist without them.

What is a monthly meeting like?

Each bead society, just like any organized group, has a different way of conducting their meetings, but most begin with some social time. Everyone wears a nametag (many are beaded, of course!), and sometimes a light snack and coffee are offered. Next come announcements about the society's doings, local class offerings, and general beading events. A 'Bring and Brag' often follows, where members show off their latest creations. Finally, a speaker gives an hour-long (or so) presentation on a bead-related topic. The topics can range anywhere from historical research to creative pursuits, and they are often given by bead artists who share their work via slides. For many society members, the meeting doesn't end there, as they connect with friends after the meeting for more beady fellowship.

Does it cost to join?

Yes, but membership dues are usually nominal, about $30-$50 annually. The money goes toward the rental for the space the meetings are held in, any guest-speaker fees, and special projects like event expenses and member directories. You can usually attend your first meeting for free to see if you like it, especially if you come with an active member. But sometimes it costs non-members to attend a meeting - $5 or so.

How do I get involved?

First, find a bead society near you. Check with your local bead shop. Chances are they know all about your local society and have several active members as employees.