Article Irene Lenihan as told to Deb Peterson | Photos courtesy of Irene Lenihan
Winter is a great time for indoor hobbies like beading, making jewelry with beads. If you’re a beader, you probably spend a lot of time working by yourself, but beading doesn’t have to be a solitary pursuit. Beaders from the Twin Lakes Area, other parts of Arkansas, and many other states like Texas, Illinois and North Carolina gather several times each year to bead together, and we have a blast.
Every fall, bead enthusiasts gather for the Arkansas Bead Retreat. It’s an event that was started by two women from Horseshoe Bend who are now in their 90s, so it has been around a long time. For the last few years it has been in Mountain View at the Ozark Folk Center. This year there were about 50 of us. We share cabins, stuff ourselves at the buffet across the street from the conference center, and use two of the conference rooms, one for individual beading tables and one for classes.
This year I taught the Dutch Spiral technique. I demonstrated how to do the stitch, and each woman made her own design. There was a class on bead embroidery, following the pattern in printed fabric or clothing, and another class on Shibori ribbon.
There is always a guest vendor selling beads and other materials. Jill Wiseman, a bead designer and author with a YouTube channel, was our vendor this year. She taught several classes on how to create the Biltmore necklace.
We usually have a theme and always have a Saturday night pajama party. Silliness abounds. One woman dressed in black, went outside after dark, and banged on the window. She nearly gave us a heart attack.
This year, Libby Roleson, the organizer, asked us to wear tiaras, and we were delighted to discover a “Princess of the Arkansas Bead Retreat” and her nemesis, “The Bead Ripper,” played by Harmony Carrillo of Rea Valley. One of the first things every new beader must learn is how to rip out your work when it isn’t right. We all say we have a degree in bead ripping. So “The Bead Ripper” was a big hit.
Lots of vendors donate something for gift bags, and each woman receives one. Each year we bring something to trade. This year we all made and brought a pendant. If you made one, you got to choose one. There are all different kinds and it’s always exciting. And there’s always a table filled with magazines, beads, bindings, containers, bags, and other items discarded by the participants. Everyone is welcome to take what they want or need.
You don’t need to wait for the Arkansas Bead Retreat to get together with beaders. A group called Beading Buddies meets every third Saturday at the Donald W. Reynolds Library in Mountain Home, and there is a retreat May 12-15 in Morrilton.
You can find information online at facebook.com/arkansasbeadretreat. And every four months, I have a one-day gathering for about 12 women at my home. To participate, call me at 870-424-2232, or find me at facebook.com/thebeadedpath. Visit jillwisemandesigns.com for more info about Jill Wiseman. Happy beading, and please consider joining us! M! February/March 2017