Thursday, April 3, 2008

African Bead Challenge - The Opinions Are In!

About a month ago, I posted a challenge for beaders about our African Trade Beads. I sent 5 beaders one package of Cobalt Bottle Glass from Ghana, one package of Silver Roundish Beads from Ethiopia, and one bag containing a little more than half a strand of Christmas Beads from Ghana (older) all shown to the above left. Unlike my last challenge with Peruvian beads, this time the beaders got to see the beads before committing to the challenge...much better way to do it I think.

Below are each beaders comments about the beads and what they made with them. I'm posting exactly what they wrote to me (positive or negative). Each of the small pictures is clickable so you can see a larger picture.

Lisa Devos from New Hope, Pennsylvania

When I opened the package with the beads, I immediately loved the cobalt glass and silver beads but was initially at a loss how to combine them with the Christmas beads. After looking at them for a few days, I decided to combine them with some cobalt blue seed beads I had lying around, use some wire for the silver round beads and introduce the Christmas beads as an accent color. I am very pleased with the way they all look together and it will make a nice piece to add to my tribal belly dance jewelry collection. I am going to have to buy more and make earrings and a head piece as well :)

Debbie Gilligan from Troy, New York

The African beads aren't perfect but they have character and the colors are beautiful. I used seed beads inside the Bottle Glass beads to compensate for the large hole and center them on the wire. I have a tendency to be symmetrical in my designs so I slid the Christmas beads off their string in small sections to keep the order random. I added MT AB Cobalt Druks, Bali style spacers, and my favorite toggle. I remembered that I had gotten zebra charms in a goody bag and immediately got them out to make the earrings. This was a perfect time to use them! I wore the set to work today and told everyone about your website and blog.

Sharon M. Harris from Chattanooga, Tennessee
I did not care for the African beads. I prefer beads that are more uniform in size and shape. I also prefer a smooth shiny finish on beads. Also, these beads are a little too heavy to wear comfortably. In general I prefer pastel colors instead of the stronger primary colors of these beads. That being said, I found I liked the necklace better than I expected once it was made, though I probably will not wear it.

Julianne Kurpiewski from Wilmington, North Carolina

I knew before I even got the beads that I would love the Christmas beads. Their small size, bright colors, tiny stripes and random patterns are perfect.

I decided to make a bracelet because I love bracelets and I'm not a big fan of necklaces. The blue glass beads were a beautiful color and I loved their frosted texture but they were a little too big for my tastes...which is why I didn't use them in my bracelet. I'm sure they'd be perfect size for a necklace but I just haven't thought of what I want to do with them. The silver beads were neat but I had trouble with their holes. Some of the holes were really big and others were a lot smaller. I ended up putting the small Christmas beads inside the silver beads and then used spacers to prevent the silver beads slipping over the Christmas beads.

I do love my bracelet. I've worn it several times and people always comment on how cute the Christmas beads are.

Debby Boltman of Bothell, Washington
I needed a new anklet for my Disney trip we are leaving on tomorrow and I thought the African beads were charming and would be perfect for such a project. The slight imperfections provide just the right amount of eclectic appeal for my project.

Thank you to all the beaders who participated in this challenge! African trade beads are very unique. The beads are old and worn and just downright funky at times. Hopefully these ideas and comments will get you to take another look at our wonderful African trade beads and give them a try!


  1. I just love seeing all the different ideas made from the same beads. These beads are really funky, but the textures and colors are great. They have such great character! Great job ladies! I hope that you will be doing another challenge soon, Carolyn. I would like to have the opportunity to be a part of one of these challenges, as I missed out on this one.

  2. I like the idea of your challenge contest! I think the ladies that took your challenge created some really cool looking pieces. Look forward to the next challenge!

  3. I appreciate that you included everyone's complete comments, even though hearing unnecssarily negative things including "I probably won't wear it though" doesn't show themselves in a very good light. If you can't say someting nice... don't participate! That means you, Grumpy McGrumperson!

  4. I have friends in Bothel WA - Debbie do you have a shop or anything that I can direct them to? Or do you just do beading as I do, and sell directly to others? Love your beading!
    Treena Rowan

  5. My sister Tammy works with Debbie, so when she says that she told everyone at work about your site and blog, that's true, because my sister immediately emailed me. I've been a customer for years, but don't look much at the blogs. Having seen this challenge, though, I think I'd like to participate in the next one! I'll be keeping my eyes open.

  6. Thank you for all the wonderful comments! I'll be posting another challenge soon so be sure to check back occasionally!

  7. I really like the idea of these challenges. This challenge you posted a picture of what beads the contestants would be receiving so I am wondering why one participant entered the challenge when she didn't like any of the beads to begin with. Someone else could have taken her place.

  8. Thank you everyone for your kind comments. And thank you Carolyn for having the challenge. It was alot of fun.

    Debbie in Troy, NY

  9. I am new to beading and most importantly, new to this site however, I would very much like to participate in one of the challenges, how does one go about doing so? I really enjoyed reading the comments posted by the last people that participated! Thank the good Lord we are all different and have different views, thoughts and ideas!!!; it sure makes for an interesting world! Can hardly wait for my order I just placed and look forward to all your "mail".
    Janis in Benton, AR

  10. Treena you are very kind for you comments. I don't have a shop. I own a residential cleaning business. Not quite the bead shop. You are very kind. I'm glad you liked the anklet. Is it something you would wear? If you read this please contact me. EEBeads is great and these beads truly are lovely. I have posted an item on my blog if you care to take a look. Thanks so much for allowing me to be part of this challenge. I loved it!

  11. Okay, I'm not sure why, but a few comments didn't show. They were basically asking how to get involved in the next challenge. I can only tell you to check here...another one in coming up really, really soon. Okay, hint hint...REALLY soon :) Keep checking!

  12. Hi Carolyn!
    Finally someone to tell all the good ideas that your EEBEADS has gave to me, unfortunately I can't buy from your store because I do not live in USA but from here in Dominican Republic the best of the Caribbean please note you have a fan!
    Congratulations to all the participants in your challenges and please keep going with the blog is a quite nice place to be.

  13. Thank you for your comments Evelyn. But actually, you can order from us because we do ship to the Dominican Republic! Hope you give us a try!

  14. This is the first time I've been on this bead site. I always enjoy seeing what people do with challenges; I know I tend to create in my comfort zone, and challenges to make you try new things. Even the negative comments just mean some beader learned more about what she feels right creating!

  15. Each mailing I am just so impressed and anxious to purchase to get my small business going. All here is just lovely and so reasonably priced. Thanks so much! Debbie