Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Welcome, bead addicts!

Hello, dear friends! My name is Lisa Tracy.  I'm a self-taught jewelry artist and bead shop owner.  Beads are most definitely my passion!  I'm privileged to share with you my beaded jewelry design adventure.  How about if I start with a bit of background?

My saga began in June 2003, shortly after my family and I moved back to the tiny little island of Kwajalein, Marshall Islands.  (It’s about half-way between Hawaii and Australia.)  My very good friend, Marilyn, flew 8,000 miles for a visit to our tropical paradise.  At my request, she brought with her a basic set of beaded jewelry making tools, an assortment of beads and findings, and an organizer to keep me sane.  In between beachcombing and snorkeling, Marilyn taught me the basics of stringing beads and wirework.  I was instantly hooked!

Since Kwaj is so tiny and remote, there are extremely limited resources available.  There’s no craft store, and no other resources to feed my addiction.  So I subscribed to BeadStyle and Bead & Button magazines and ordered a few books online.  I devoured each issue voraciously, carefully reading through every project’s step-by-step instructions and following along with the diagrams.  So when I call myself self-taught, I suppose that’s not technically accurate.  But I definitely didn’t have access to classes and no one to teach me after Marilyn left.

So I practiced the basics until I had mastered them and gradually added other techniques to my repertoire.  Soon I was selling my handmade jewelry at the biannual craft fairs on Kwaj, which thankfully helped support my habit.

In 2007 a handful of friends convinced me to teach them a few basic jewelry-making skills and was soon teaching beginner and intermediate level classes.  Very rapidly, demand for locally available beading supplies grew, and before I knew it, I had turned my tiny dining room in our Government quarters into a bead shop.  For Christmas dinner in 2008, we set the coffee table in our living room and celebrated there!

In May 2009, for the first time ever, a very limited amount of commercial space became available to local small business owners.  I opened my bead shop and jewelry gallery, Tropic Jewelry & Beads in a corner of the former DVD Depot next to the base exchange.  As local residents and visitors discovered my shop, business grew.  In a very short time, my business was operating at a small profit.  My hobby had become a full-time job.  Thankfully, I had discovered my passion!

During these years, my jewelry-making skills increased in variety and depth.  I finally got up the courage to try my hand at off-loom beadweaving, making a bracelet with tubular peyote beaded beads.  I played around with a bit of wirework, learning about the properties of sterling silver.  I learned to identify and recognize the quality of semi-precious gemstones.  How achieve three-dimensional shapes with beads and thread.  How to achieve aesthetically pleasing and wear-resistant joins.  How seed manufacturers vary.  Why lampwork beads are so expensive.  And much, much more.

This learning process continues today – I pray it never ends!

Through this blog, I hope to share with you my beading adventures, past and present.  But be forewarned:  once bitten by the bead bug, you’re forever infected with an addiction for tiny sparkly things!

I hope you have a very beadiful day!

Me, taken at Bingham Falls in Vermont, where I vacationed with my son, Ryan (19), and my daughter, Christine (18), this past August.


  1. Hi Lisa, welcome to bloggerland! Glad you decided to have a blog, too. I'm looking forward to see what you write about. And of course you're invited to follow my blog, too. :-)

  2. Great Lisa! I've been thinking about blogging myself but don't know that I really have the time. Besides that I'm not such a great writer!
    I finally just figured out how to post on people's blogs that required an account!

  3. Hello and welcome! Glad you jumped off the deep end and created this.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, ladies!!! Dagi, how do I get your blog to come out in English? When I tried using Bing to translate it for me, it didn't work all that well. Is there a better way?

  5. Lisa, the translation on my blog is all done by hand (or let's say by me). Sometimes I even write the English part first and then translate it to German. That's the best practice for my English skills.

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