This year, Off the Beading Path owner Denise Bush is looking for new beads, new designs, and time to experiment.
"A lot of my beaders keep me challenged, because some of them are just so creative," she said. "Right now, with the seed bead world, there are a lot of new beads coming out. New shapes, new patterns, and people are using them in new combinations."
Some of her customers think Bush just sits in her store and works on beading all day, she said. But she only gets about two hours a week to do such creative work, and much of it is spent creating samples to show customers what could be made out of her diverse collection of beads.
"That's always a challenge, keeping things new and fresh," Bush said. She finds beads from a variety of sources. Some are sold directly to her, and some she finds herself. Every year, she attends a beading show in Denver.
Off the Beading Path offers up to five classes each weekend, most suitable for beginning beaders.
"A lot of our instructors started out teaching here, so that's been really exciting to watch them grow," Bush said.
Bush and six other instructors teach classes on using wire, stone, or making chainmail or bead weaving. In February, a guest instructor will teach silversmithing. Those interested in becoming an instructor can contact Bush at 703-492-2323.
"Some of the ones that have started with us, we notice the consistent quality of their work, and their enthusiasm," she said. "Quality of work is a big thing. I've seen some YouTube videos out there where people aren't necessarily doing it the correct way."
Bush said that though "creativity doesn't have a right or wrong," there are certain techniques, especially with materials like wire, that make the finished product stronger or more secure.
"You put the time in, you want it to hold up well," she said.
As part of her drive to find more time to be creative, Bush plans to offer one free class a month.
"We eat, sleep and drink beads. I've got one caught in my tooth now," Bush said, laughing.
Have a New Year's resolution for your small business in the Woodbridge or Occoquan areas? Email email@example.com. Small business resolutions stories will run weekly through the end of January.
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