MY Bead Room – My Happy Place

As I sit here writing to you, we are experiencing a global heat event with scorching “feels like” temperatures well over 110 degrees in South Florida. It is extremely difficult to even think about the fall season, but I found myself almost in a meditative state while imagining walking outside with a brisk breeze blowing in my face. As a beader who spends the season setting up a booth at tribal markets and festivals, my summer is spent in preparation. I spend countless hours while not at work, stringing beads with vintage silver coins my dad drills holes into and polishes. Every coin collector cringes as they walk by my booth but I remind them to relax, the coins are all purchased from dealers who evaluate them for their value and set them aside as having only their silver value. We buy the coins before they get sent to the smelter.

My bead collection has grown into quite an obsession and I have had to move it into a room of its own. My “bead room” is what used to be a two-car garage. I have set it up like a bead store so that I can visit my collection and enjoy looking at what I have collected. When I have a creative block, I will go in there and just sit and wait for the colors to present themselves. It sounds batty, but it works for me. I am often asked where do I buy my beads and the answer is simple… anywhere I can. I travel a lot and always google local bead stores to visit. Every bead store is different and usually owned by a collector like me who realizes that the store isn’t really a profit-making venture as much as it is a way to validate an obsession. I also visit bead shows and expos and have traveled as far west as California, and as far north as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania because of FOMO (fear of missing out). I have collected Swarovski crystal beads for years and pick through antique stores and thrift shops for vintage treasures made with the perfect specimens.

One of the best bead stores I have ever been to was right here in Naples, Florida. The Bead Boutique, owned by local business woman, Leanne Netzow, closed its doors this summer and I am in deep mourning. Most do not realize how difficult it is to maintain the inventory that a store like hers provided for bead addicts like myself. Leanne traveled around the globe sourcing her products so that people like me had the best to choose from.

So back to the unworldly temperatures… As I sought refuge in the safety of my air conditioned home, I also entered my happy place. My bead collection represents 55 years of memories with my family, travel experiences, friendships, and even motherhood. My daughter has taken up the trade and has her own thriving business that showcases her eclectic taste. My granddaughter has her own line of mixes that they create and sell as, “Mia’s Mixes.” They have started their own collection and will probably convert their garage into a bead room. This summer my son designed a line of necklaces using gemstones and alligator teeth. It has definitely become a family tradition that I am proud of.

I hope that by the time this issue is published, we will have all survived the unbearable weather and can go outside again. The first event of the 2023-2024 season is the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki’s Museum’s American Indian Art Celebration, November 3-4. I close my eyes, and I can put myself there… the smell of the burning oak from the cook fire and the thickness of the morning dew propels me into an excitement to showcase our summer’s designs. Each piece of jewelry is not only creative expression, but also a personal memory that I celebrate. I like to share information about the materials I used, where I bought them, and what inspired me. I urge everyone to come out and start the season off at the American Indian Arts Celebration.

FEATURE PHOTO. My parents and I love to visit antique stores and thrift shops! On a summer visit to Paradise Vintage Market in Ft Myers, we found these unique beads on an old necklace – so I cut the necklace apart and used the beads on this brand new creation

My collection of Chinese Crystal – I still have an equal amount in bins that I need to hang up

One of my creations – Turquoise mix from a bead store I must visit when in Albuquerque, NM

One of my summer creations. My dad drilled Vintage “V” Nickels and I piled them on this necklace.
It sold within 15 minutes of posting

close up of another creation that uses our Tribe’s flag as inspiration

Tina Osceola

Stop by and visit and I will share some more stories about my obsession!

My most valued beads will never leave my bead room but those who follow me on Instagram will get a sneak peek every now and then!