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Beading in New England

Q: Hi. We are planning a vacation in New England this September or October. Can anyone advise on bead stores or bead fairs to visit while there? You will see from our address that we are not able to obtain this information at home. We are interested in general bead work, but not (yet) into exotic things such as bead making.

A: In the immediate Boston area, visit the Beadworks on Newbury Street in downtown Boston. Sarah Young is the manager and she is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. She can direct you to other shops and studios throughout New England. You might also visit the Pear Tree, which is in the Boston metropolitan area. About 30 miles north of Boston is the Stoneworks, in the town of Dunstable (named after Dunstable, England). Sandy Gates, the manager there, specializes in quality beads of natural materials, particularly unusual natural stones, including U.S. materials such as colorful Arizona petrified wood. She and her husband make wampum, which is a beautiful purple and white bead, made from a native shell, and deeply rooted in New England history and tradition since the early 1600s, when it was used by the the Native Americans -- and the Pilgrims. Wampum could also used to pay taxes to the Commonwealth and tuition fees for Harvard College. The bead club, Beadesigner International, will be holding a show at that time, but I don't have the exact dates at the moment. First rate, intricate, handcrafted glass beads are available at the show. September and October are the best for foliage, and in my opinion for Cape Cod beaches. Welcome to New England. There is a lot to do and see and you can have a wonderful time. Rhode Island (50 miles south of Boston) is the world capital of fashion jewelry making, and most of the component manufacturers & importers are located there. I am at work now myself, but have a lot of addresses at home I can post soon. There are companies that have warehouses full of beads, etc. that are open to the public. My wife is a manufacturer's rep to the jewelry & garment trades & has a lot of contacts in Rhode Island. Her cousin is the president of a very large jewelry manufacturer.