Blog for Beaders

A creative place to share jewelry making information, ideas, and inspiration! Hosted by Artbeads


Employee Gallery of Designs

Our employees love our products just as much as you do, and they’re always coming up with new and creative ways to use them. Here you’ll find some of their brilliant creations to inspire creative designs!

Artbeads Family Special Spotlight – The Pandamanda Foundation

August 14th, 2013 · 12 Comments

Pandamanda Logo

“I’ll never take for granted the air I breathe.” How many of us can say the same thing? Ryan Messinger, one of the amazing employees we have here at Artbeads, lives by the phrase, “Just breathe.” It’s what he and his family kept telling his sister, Amanda, when she was dying in the hospital. Just breathing was all she could concentrate on during those final days. Those two words were so important that Amanda even got a tattoo of the phrase. Amanda had Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening and chronic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog the lungs and airways of the body. This genetic disease affects about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. Two of those people were Amanda and Jessica Messinger. Here’s Ryan’s story of his two sisters:

Amanda-white frame

Jessica Messinger was born on July 21, 1989 and Amanda Messinger was born July 21, 1990. Jessica was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was three years old. Amanda was diagnosed when she was four. Jessica and Amanda both had totally different personalities and it was Amanda who inspired everyone she met…Amanda had to see her sister Jessica die from a disease she had. Sharing birthdays just one year apart, they were like twins—best friends—and they shared everything together. They both helped each other emotionally, physically and spiritually. When Jessica’s CF got worse, Amanda adopted the role of older sister and spent most of her life caring for Jessica. Amanda really helped Jessica with everything: homework, meds, breathing treatments, getting dressed, cooking meals and helping her with her chores. Amanda always stood up for her sister when she was bullied at school for being different and obviously sick with CF. Even though Jessica was not as popular as Amanda they were both a little jealous of each other, but in a good way, just like twins are. Jessica passed away two months after her 16th birthday in 2005 from Cystic Fibrosis. The loss of Jessica took a great toll on my mom and she passed away at the age of 46 in 2010. Amanda passed away on New Year’s Day 2013 from Cystic Fibrosis. Family and friends who knew them will miss them dearly. Jessica, Amanda and Mom are no longer suffering. They sing and laugh in Heaven until we all can be together again. Before Amanda passed away, she asked her best friends and family members to continue to fight for her after her death by helping to find a cure. It was Amanda’s drive [that] pushed us to fight against Cystic Fibrosis. 

Ryan with Amanda in the Hospital

Now, after suffering from personal loss and spending countless nights in hospital rooms, Ryan and the Pandamanda Foundation his family and friends started are fighting to make his sister’s dreams a reality and to make hospital experiences easier for the families and patients involved. “Spending the night in the hospital can be draining. Lights are turning on and off at all hours, it’s uncomfortable, [and it has] bad food,” Ryan explained. He and his father really needed a place to stay that was close to the hospital but that could also be their safe haven. The better their experience was, the higher their spirits would be, and in turn they could lift the spirits of their family members in the hospital. If they could rejuvenate their own souls they could be the rock for their loved ones.

The Pandamanda Foundation is dedicated to spreading awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and creating a home away from home for families affected by CF and other terminal diseases. Ryan and his team hope to raise enough money to buy a house close to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, WA. The house would be a place where families could stay without having to stay in the hospital. They could cook their own food, sleep in a bed and enjoy the other comforts of home while still being close to their ailing loved ones. This house would be open to families with loved ones in the hospital for any reason, not just those affected by CF like Amanda and Jessica. Although they’re still in the beginning steps, the Pandamanda Foundation has found unique ways of raising money to achieve their goals.

Green Floral Bracelet

Filigree Flower Bracelet

Red Crystal and Fabric Bracelet

Dream Bracelet and Rings

Ryan has been making jewelry to auction off in an effort to raise more money. We’ve showcased Ryan’s astounding jewelry design skills in a previous blog post—so you may already know that he’s a natural designer. Ryan’s pieces are mainly seed bead designs, but he also likes to mix in Swarovski components when he can. Other team members are pitching in with jewelry designs, as well. Jade, a member of the foundation, is making jewelry with a little more bling, and foundation member Jolene has been creating jewelry with more earthy, natural elements. Artbeads Co-Owner and Chief Jewelry Designer Cynthia Kimura recently donated over $300 worth of beads so Pandamanda members can make more jewelry.

Amanda in the Hospital

The pieces they’ve been making for this cause are now part of a collection—Just Breathe Designs. These designs will be available for purchase on the Pandamanda Foundation website (coming soon). “For a while, I never thought about why I made jewelry,” Ryan says. “Now I know. I now have a purpose for making jewelry.”

The Pandamanda Foundation Team

Every member of the Artbeads family wishes Ryan and the foundation the best of luck in their fight. We are certainly proud of him for his bravery and tenacity in fighting for a cure and the welfare of other families battling terminal illness. You can visit the Pandamanda Foundation on Facebook to purchase merchandise and learn more about their story.

Ryan and Amanda all dressed up


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Tags: Company News · Employee Gallery of Designs

High School Stories

April 23rd, 2013 · 1 Comment

High school was a time when we believed friendships would last forever and prom was the most anticipated event of the year. If you have a graduate this year, remind them that one day they’ll be able to look back at their time in school and smile—even if they don’t enjoy it right now. They’ll be able to pull out old photos, relive the moment in their minds and smile. To celebrate the graduation (and prom) season coming soon, here are some Artbeads employee high school stories!


“This was my senior year; I was a homecoming “princess.” For seniors, there were princesses and princes and a king and queen. During the homecoming game we got to ride in convertibles around the track and wave to the crowd! It was the only day that it was acceptable for me to wear a sparkly tiara everywhere I went.” – Becky, Copywriter


Cortney, Vice President, wore this gorgeous, handmade green dress to her prom. Her husband was her date back then!


Sherri, our New Product Coordinator, was 17 when she graduated from high school…and is glad that the feathered hair style has passed.


Jewelry Designer Teri McCamish back in the day, sporting her “preppy LL Bean oxford cloth shirt and ribbon head band.”


Brittany, our Web Content Publisher on the right, kept it real with her besties in high school and even after graduation. All three still keep in touch and reminisce about when they were teens when they get together.


Read about my prom story in a previous post—Swarovski crystals make an appearance!

Help your graduate remember this year with a memorable jewelry design, or create a customizable memento. Here are a few ideas from our Learning Center to inspire you.

Dream First Grad Cap

Dream First LC Idea

Unlock Your Future Necklace

Unlock Your Future LC Idea

Wherever You Go Necklace

Wherever You Go LC Idea

Happy memories!


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Tags: Employee Gallery of Designs · Jewelry and Craft Ideas · Just For Fun!

Teri’s Beading Playlist

April 5th, 2013 · 1 Comment

I love my iPod idea

Creative juices seem to flow a little easier with help from music. Heck, I’m plugged in to some my favorite tunes while I write this! Jewelry designing, or any form of art for that matter, is all about creativity. To get the fingers flowing at just the right angle, or to place the right beads into the perfect position, is all about one’s mindset.

Twist and Sprout Necklace

Our jewelry designer Teri McCamish turns out beautiful, breathtaking ideas—and she admits that there are certain songs that get her into the jewelry groove. Teri shared her beading playlist with us, which is an eclectic array of jazz and blues. For Teri, these styles of music help stimulate the creativity but keep her mind mellow. The funky melodies are enough to keep her hands swinging to the stereo without moving too fast or too slow. Our idea Twist and Sprout is a wonderful example of how influential music can be to an artist. You can tell by the explosive colors, tiny twists, and branches that curl every which way that Teri’s music player was on shuffle when she created this piece!

Check out some of Teri’s beading playlist below!

What’s on your beading playlist?


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Tags: Ask The Experts · Employee Gallery of Designs · Just For Fun!

Artbeads Employee Design – Katie’s Quilt

March 22nd, 2013 · 1 Comment

Katie's Quilt

Our email marketing specialist Katie is quite the quilter! She’s been working on this quilt for about a year and was kind enough to bring it in so we could share it with you. Her sea life theme includes cute jellyfish and seaweed right now, but she plans to add a few more aquatic creatures to it soon.

Jellyfish Close-up

You may be asking She works at Artbeads but doesn’t have any beads on her quilt? She will! Katie shared that she has mapped out where she wants to plant her embroidered beads—along the top edge of each jellyfish and a few sprinkled in the seaweed. She’ll use seed beads to create a delicate and intricate border.

Seaweed Close-Up

This is just a sneak peek at her cool project. Stay tuned for a blog update when we get to see the final design!

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Tags: Employee Gallery of Designs

Cynthia’s Love of Birds

March 5th, 2013 · 2 Comments

Cynthia's Bird Cage

If you’re a fan of our Learning Center ideas, you may notice that quite a few of our jewelry designs include birds—either as the focus or as an accent. A lot of these bird ideas come from our Chief Jewelry Designer and Artbeads co-owner Cynthia. In fact, the bird cage picture above is in Cynthia’s craft room. I recently had the chance to sit down with Cynthia and ask her about her love of birds, and learned there is so much behind the reason she likes using these feathered lovelies in new ideas.

New Caledonia

Cynthia grew up in New Caledonia, a small island just east of Australia. Living on the island meant that the sun always rose early—around 5am or sooner. When the sun rises, the birds begin singing. She can still see the number of different birds all singing in the morning, and the beautiful colors in each one.

She remembers listening to a song in New Caledonia about the wild geese migrating to the south for winter, too. In the song, when the man looks up to see the geese flying overhead, it fills him with joy because he knows where they are heading. When Cynthia moved to Washington State, she got to experience this firsthand. One day while she was outside she heard a noise overhead. She looked up and watched a flock of geese fly over in their familiar V-shape. “like in the movies,” she exclaims. Living in Washington exposed Cynthia to the natural migration of the geese as they travel from Alaska to the south, so she gets to relive the movie-like experience each year.

Cynthia's Bird Collection

Her connection with birds goes beyond observance, too. “You know when people ask, ‘what kind of animal would you be?’ I always think ‘bird’. Birds have no limitations. To me, birds equal nature”. Cynthia enjoys gardening, and says that having birds in your garden is a good sign. “Birds eat all of the bad bugs and help keep your flowers blooming. Even though they [the birds] eat some of the fruit [from my garden], it’s still a fair trade”. The picture above is in Cynthia’s craft room at home. If you notice, the birds rest just above her Swarovski collection.

Bird Beads and Pendants

So how does Cynthia choose the right bird bead to use? It’s all about emotional connection. Each piece she chooses evokes a memory or special feeling. With the larger pieces, like focal beads and big pendants, she is immediately drawn to the color. Some of the bright patterns remind her of the birds in New Caledonia or her time living in Japan. Another favorite focal bead features an elegant crane, which symbolizes longevity and good fortune in Japanese culture. The smaller accent pieces with birds on them are used because of the instant emotion they draw out of her. Cynthia also likes using birds in her designs because they work well for any season. A cheery hummingbird can help light up a spring design, while a wise owl helps keep a cozy feel in a winter idea.

Some of her favorite Learning Center designs also tell a story, which is easy to do with birds.

Sapphire Dawn Necklace Idea
In Sapphire Dawn, the bird pieces accent the story of Mother Nature. That’s why she also used branches and earth tone beads to complete the look.

Nesting Necklace Idea
In Nesting, Cynthia used a bird’s nest pendant to express the time, dedication and love that a mother puts in to ensuring a safe haven for her children. To her, it’s amazing to think that such a small creature can build such a complex structure as a need to to protect its young.

Opportunity Necklace Idea
Her favorite bird design is the Opportunity necklace. The pendant is what really tells the story, which you can read here.

The next time you see a new Learning Center idea that uses birds, try and think of what Cynthia had in mind when designing it. Is there anything that inspires you as much as birds do for Cynthia?


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Tags: Employee Gallery of Designs

A Tip from a DIY Bride

February 1st, 2013 · 1 Comment

Necklace and Earring

I’ve been married for a little over a year now, but with wedding season just around the corner, I wanted to remind all of the brides to be that going DIY doesn’t mean you can’t be elegant. Last time, I shared how I made the jewelry for my bridesmaids using Swarovski round crystal pearls and rondelles, accented by gold jewelry components. You can have an assortment of fancy beads, but the key to pulling off the right look is all about balance. Above is a close-up of my bridesmaid’s jewelry, but you can read more about how I made the sets here.

DIY Wedding Centerpiece for Fall

Another great way to stay in budget and still have a fabulous wedding is carefully choosing your decorations. Stimulate the senses by working with the natural elements found during the season your wedding falls in. My wedding happened to be in the fall, so I worked the crisp, autumn colors into my theme. It turned out beautiful! Working with natural elements really helped me hone in on exactly what I wanted to do for centerpieces. I carved out live pumpkins and filled them with flowers in the colors of fall—you could do the same sort of thing for any time of the year! In winter, hang bare branches with icy accents; in spring or summer, choose bright and blooming flowers to complement your theme. If you’re trying to stick to a budget, opt for fake flowers in your centerpieces. They’ll last longer and you’ll be considerate of guests with outdoor allergies.

There are tons of different ways to make your big day special without breaking the bank if you’re willing to do the projects yourself (or have your bridal party pitch in, too). A couple of other members of the Artbeads family recently got married, and you know they had some awesome DIY project, too! Stay tuned to the blog as we’ll be bringing you more about this soon. Remember that you can always find amazing ideas on our DIY Weddings Pinterest board!


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Tags: Beader's Resource · Employee Gallery of Designs · Jewelry and Craft Ideas

Artbeads Employee Spotlight – Meet Teri!

December 14th, 2012 · 1 Comment

The Artbeads team sure is an amazing crew. Each person, from the inventory team to product fillers and customer service members, all contribute to the ultimate goal of providing high-quality pieces to our customers. We want to introduce you to one of our star employees.

Teri McCamish shines bright as one of our superstar jewelry designers in the Craft Room. Co-Owner and Chief Jewelry Designer Cynthia had always admired Teri’s jewelry, and loved the unique ways Teri used some of the newest Artbeads products. When the Craft Room was in need of a new designer, Cynthia knew without a doubt that Teri would be a perfect choice. “Not only is she a great designer, but she is also a wonderful and sweet person. She is always smiling, caring and everyone in the company knows her.”

Here’s what Teri had to say about the journey of jewelry making:

“I really think the most interesting thing about my beading life is that I didn’t know anything about beading before I came to Artbeads in 2008. I loved beads. I shopped for them, hoarded them, but didn’t make anything with them. I’ve always loved jewelry and collecting beaded pieces. I applied [for Artbeads] at a temp agency not knowing what the job was, and when they told me I got it and it was for a bead company I was thrilled! To find a job in a creative field after doing many things that weren’t meant the world to me. It’s every bit as wonderful as you imagine to be surrounded by beautiful and shiny things.

I learned everything I know from the Learning Center and my favorite TV show, Beads, Baubles and Jewels. While filling orders, my head would be swimming with ideas of things to make. My interest was so intense that I’d go home and pour over the web site, so when the other fulfillment folks would ask ‘What the heck do you do with this?’ I could tell them how it was used. For three years I worked in fulfillment and shipping before I was asked to join the design team in the Craft Room. Every night when I get home I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I love helping people, learning new techniques, working with new products and creating all the lovely shiny things!”

So what is Teri’s favorite tool?

“It has to be my Tronex round nose pliers. The taper is so small on the ends I can make any size loop I need. That’s my only fancy tool everything else is fairly basic. One very basic tool that I have mad love for is the narrow bead scoop. So simple and yet so perfect for getting tiny things back into their bag. I may not have a pen handy but my bead scoop is always in my back pocket.”

Besides beading, Teri is also very interested in plants and organic gardening. She hopes to one day become a Master Gardener and be able to devote time to teaching others what she has learned. She claims that music has a huge influence on your creativity, too: “It can really set a mood. I listen to all kinds but prefer instrumentals while I’m working so the words don’t occupy my brain. Plus, I tend to sing along—which is bad form in an office setting.”

What does Teri advise for new beaders?

“Practice. Don’t be afraid to take things apart and start over—just chalk it up to a learning experience. It’s a common tendency to think what you’ve made is going to make a wonderful gift but if that strand falls apart while your friend is in church, you won’t be remembered fondly for your great design. Wear test things, too. Better it break while you’re wearing it [than whomever you give it to]. That and be patient. It’s a relaxing craft, so don’t become frustrated and spoil the fun. Put it aside and start over!”

We think that’s great advice for beginners and professionals alike! Teri admits that there are a few things she has been intimidated by: “I’m learning different bead weaving stitches now and really enjoying conquering what I’d previously thought was so hard. Honestly, I feel that anyone can do this at some level and that’s what makes working in the Learning Center such fun. Not everyone is going to take to bead embroidery like the work of Sherry Serafini. Not everyone has the budget to layer strands of precious metal and Swarovski beads. It’s our mission to inspire people to make what pleases them and help them with the details to make that happen.”

The next time you see a beautiful new jewelry or craft idea displayed in our Learning Center, that piece may have come from the skillful hands of Teri. Remember that she and so many others at Artbeads are always keeping a keen eye on what cool new ideas can be created, and dedicate their time to ensuring your products are the best—they know what a designer wants because they’re designers themselves.


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Tags: Employee Gallery of Designs

Customer Service Special Delivery

August 29th, 2012 · 3 Comments

There’s been a trend buzzing around the Internet where pizza patrons take advantage of the special request box in the online order forms. When pizza orders are placed online, there is often a blank box labeled “special instructions” or “notes” where customers can give special requests. The requests were meant to be pizza-related, like to cut the pizza into squares or for extra sauce, but customers took advantage of the blank space and instructed what they wanted drawn on their pizza box. You can find some examples of instructions for the pizza delivery here.

Some Artbeads customers have been catching on to this craze and have put special requests in their orders for things they want drawn on their invoices. Anna in Customer Service took care of these fun requests, drawing everything from a goldfish to a dinosaur on customer invoice sheets. Here’s some of her lovely artwork before it got shipped off:

Ryan in Shipping also pitched in one day! There was a request for a wizard to be drawn on the customer’s envelope and he came through with this masterpiece.

We want our customers to know that we really listen to what you have to say—even if it’s a request for something drawn on your order! It’s little things like this that make our Customer Service team and everyone here at Artbeads great.


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Tags: Employee Gallery of Designs · Just For Fun!

Artbeads Employee Spotlight – Colleen the Component Queen!

May 31st, 2012 · 2 Comments

Artbeads employees are passionate about ensuring your selection of beads and jewelry supplies are sufficient. Each person, from the inventory team to product fillers and customer service members, all contribute to the ultimate goal of providing high-quality pieces to our customers. We want to introduce you to one of our star employees.

You may remember reading a little bit about Colleen in our last Employee Spotlight with Ryan. Colleen is Ryan’s roommate who makes wind chimes out of found objects and driftwood. What you don’t know is that she makes other colorful, creative things that serve a purpose.

Colleen Sly rocks as one of our order fillers in fulfillment, double-checking what gets put inside those individually-packaged products. When she finds cool beads to use with her collection of cute knick-knacks they always turn in to amazing displays.

One of Colleen’s most elaborate wind chimes is hanging in our building, helping to brighten up the day!

Another special project Colleen has is making bead gardens for her sister. The bright displays are an assortment of her favorite pieces that would put a smile on anyone’s face. This is precisely why she makes them!

Colleen started making them to help cheer up her sister when she’s sad, and they have now blossomed into sources of inspiration for everyone. Her eye for beauty in every tiny piece is what makes Colleen such a joy to have at Artbeads!


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Tags: Employee Gallery of Designs

Artbeads Employee Spotlight – Meet Ryan!

May 25th, 2012 · 17 Comments

The Artbeads crew is an amazing cast of characters. Each person, from the inventory team to product fillers and customer service members, all contribute to the ultimate goal of providing high-quality pieces to our customers. We want to introduce you to one of our star employees.

Ryan Messinger is one of the outstanding employees at Artbeads who has discovered a passion for jewelry making since being here. Ryan, who has helped in filling orders and in shipping for four years, caught the eye of co-owner Cynthia when she noticed other employees wearing his amazing designs. When she asked them who made their jewelry they told her it was Ryan. His raw talent has blossomed from a chance experience at a beading party into intricate, detailed designs. We recently had the chance to ask Ryan about his jewelry-making journey and what he has planned for the future.

When did you first start beading?
Two years ago I went to my first beading party. Cynthia taught me how to wire wrap earrings and how to make bails. It was nice to have her teach me right away…the right way. I like the wire wrap. On my first day of the beading party I picked all the dichroic out of the boxes and a lot of Swarovski. I made 7 pairs of earrings and saved them until Christmas time, and then gave them to my best girl friends at work. I also made one-strand bracelets with TOHO [seed beads] and gave them as Christmas gifts to the rest of the girls I work with. I never thought that I would enjoy beading as much as I did. And since [the beading party], I look at the beads a lot closer when I’m filling orders.

Where do you go to bead?
At home I have my own beading table, like a dining room table. My roommate Colleen and I have a ton of beads and we just add it together and now after work we sit and bead together. The dining room table is now covered in beads! I use a tray to put my beads in when I sit and watch TV.

Where do you eat?
On our laps!

Do you sell your jewelry anywhere?
I sold some of it to a consignment store in Ocean Shores. But I recently went back and got the rest of my stuff because they have a time limit of [how long you can keep your stuff there.] Whatever of yours they don’t sell they donate it so I got my stuff before they donated it. I’m gearing up to start selling online using ShopHandmade.

So would you and Colleen sell online together?
We make our own things, but if we ever did get a store we’d probably do it together. She makes wind chimes. She takes old driftwood to use for the tops, and puts floating beads on clear fishing line…the Venetian glass beads that look really nice. She also uses old brooches with broken backs in the wind chimes.

What are your favorite beads?
Dichroic beads. NASA invented it for the reflection on their satellites and now they’re beads. Dichroic beads are popular. I love TOHO’s, too. The silver-lined or color-lined especially.

I really like Swarovski—pretty much all Swarovski! I love the sew-on ones. I want to try and make a top with sew-on crystals. I’m actually supposed to make a veil for a friend and I was thinking of using Swarovski flatbacks. I’m also supposed to make a couple of wedding gifts for friends.

I got my ears pierced about 6 months ago, and ever since we got those glue-on earring posts I’ve made earrings [for myself]. I use the Swarovski enhanced flatbacks.

What are your favorite colors of flatbacks?
My favorite color for flatbacks is Bermuda Blue. I like the ones that change colors, like Crystal Volcano and Tabac.

Do you have any summer projects planned?
I want to get some leather and get something that a guy would wear that would go with leather. Eventually I’ll be able to learn make more elaborate stuff and make more guy stuff.

You can see the newest bracelets Ryan made in the image above. These beautiful pieces were made with TOHO seed beads and Swarovski sew-on crystals.

Anything you want to add?
I never thought I’d have so much fun with jewelry and it’s a great hobby; it helps calm me. It helped me bond with everyone I work with, too. I love working at, my favorite place to shop. Their great selection is helping to feed my hobby!

The next time you open up your Artbeads order, unwrap the purple tissue paper to reveal your delicately wrapped beads, remember that Ryan was there. Each shipper signs the invoice so you know your order was checked. Look to see if Ryan’s signature is on your next order! Remember that he and so many others at Artbeads are always keeping a keen eye what cool new ideas can be created, and dedicate their time to ensuring your products are the best—they know what a designer wants because they’re designers themselves.


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Tags: Employee Gallery of Designs

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