The hands of Sheila Springer work at weaving beads onto a leather strip to create a “sassy leather wrap,” where bracelets are made with beads and leather wrapping.
Not only can beads be strung, but they can be woven with other pieces to make a bracelet like the one above.
Emma Ritter, left, celebrated her eighth birthday with friends at a beading party held at the Beads of a Feather store in East Greenville on Sunday. At her side is Ava Fegley. The group made bracelets during the party.
Tina Feather Souilliard, owner and head instructor at Beads of a Feather, explains the technique used in making a bracelet during a class last Sunday.
Its wide appeal has been attributed to many things: affordability, creativity and the desire to build something with your own bare hands. But no matter what the allure, jewelry making is coming into its own as one of the more popular hobbies in the U.S.
Tina Feather Souilliard, owner and head instructor at Beads of a Feather, said she has seen both young and old at her East Greenville shop.
Souilliard started beading when she was just 10. A native of Alburtis, her first beading project was a seed beaded Indian headband on a metal loom as part of the group Campfire Girls. From there her love of the art grew.
“I loved it and made everything from potholders to clay molds, keychains…I couldn’t get enough of class.”
Souilliard, who is largely self-taught, was eventually certified in a variety of jewelry making disciplines. Over the years she has made pieces out of elk horn, turquoise and coral, liquid silver, a wide range of beading and wire. She is also schooled in embroidery, macramé, crafting custom bridal jewelry and headpieces and loom work. She also tried her hand at making clay beads.
While she made her living in corporate America, Souilliard said her desire to create couldn’t be squelched. After 27 years in the business world, she opened up her own bead shop in her dining room and taught classes from her home. She reveled in teaching others techniques that allowed them to craft beautiful, unique pieces by hand.
She eventually started Beads of a Feather in Kutztown and, in May 2011, opened a branch in East Greenville. She teaches a variety of classes; many of them free with equipment purchase.
She is seeing a renewed interest in beading and jewelry making. The craft, which migrated from the West Coast, has surged in the past decade.
“People don’t want to go to Kohl’s or Bon Ton and get a piece off the rack that was mass-produced,” she said. “They want to have unique stuff and be identified by their uniqueness. They want to make things for themselves and friends that are good quality and can be personalized.
“They can create something beautiful for the cost of something plastic made in Taiwan,” she noted, saying she makes it a point to purchase supplies made in the U.S.
Souilliard teaches both on an individual basis, in homes and at her shop, and in group settings where she helps everyone, from Girl Scouts to ladies who want a night out, make pieces of jewelry. She regularly hosts birthday parties and also helps groups doing fundraisers like cancer bracelets.
Beading and jewelry making is also becoming extremely popular with teens. Right now her classes on feather earrings with beading, “sassy leather wraps,” where bracelets are created with beads and leather wrapping, and chain maille jewelry are hot commodities. She also teaches classes on leather cuffs for guys, wire wrapping around semi-precious stones and a variety of pieces using the popular Swarovski crystals.
Her basic beading classes, where attendees learn everything about the tools of the trade and wiring and stringing materials, as well as how to make a whole jewelry set, has been said to be one of the most comprehensive out there.
“There is so much really neat stuff out there,” Souilliard said of the craft. “People can find something to fit their budget and be proud of what they created.”
For more information on beading and Beads of a Feather, visit www.beadfeather.com, or call (215)679-2295.