Monday, March 8, 2010

Nothing Groovier Than Love Beads: Then and Now!

I am happy to see the idea of stringing beads is back in fashion once more. I remember the advent of “love beads” when the idea came around the first time. As teenagers in the sixties, we would get together at a friends house and string colored beads for ourselves or to share with special friends and boyfriends while singing along with Janis Joplin.

Some of us took our beading a step further and used them to adorn our favorite jeans. Those would have been the ones with the patched knees and ragged hems that we wore anywhere we went that it was imperative we look our coolest.

Today’s beading craze may be a bit more sophisticated and the products might look more like they were produced by a jeweler than a teenager, but they are still being strung at home by amateurs. Though most beading suppliers cater to slightly older market, you have to remember that those “slightly older folks” might be just like me, ex-hippies who are looking at the beads and reminiscing.

Beading has become a sort of cult hobby. I visit hobby shops frequently and over the last couple of years I have seen the beading supply sections go from a half of an aisle to half of the store. In fact, I think they may be creeping up quickly on the ultra-trendy scrap-booking fad and vying for the title of top hobby in the USA. But, you better not quote me on that, because it is simply an opinion, not the result of a scientific poll (plus some of those scrap-bookers can be pretty feisty about their hobby!). Still, from the racks and walls of beads I see in the hobby shops to the array of beaded necklaces, earrings and bracelets I see not only in shop windows, but being worn by women of all ages, I cannot help but wonder if some nostalgic love-bead stringer came up with this new beading craze.

Since we all know that what goes around comes back around, I am probably not alone in noticing that more and more younger women are carrying beaded hand-bags, wearing bead decorated jackets and jeans, and I even see a beaded headband now and then. The ragged jean look that took us years of “breaking them in”, is available at most fine boutiques for outrageous prices. It’s all coming back. Love beads, raggedy jeans, tie-die tees are all in vogue, along with the Doors and the Who. I just hope we can skip some of the less desirable fashion fads of the sixties like going braless in a tee. After you reach my age, that mental image becomes very scary.

If you are interested in learning more about beading, you’ll find lots of informative books, regular magazines and the ever helpful sales clerk at the hobby shop are all waiting to provide you with information on how to get started. Many hobby and craft shops offer classes, too. Though today’s bead stringers tend to stick with fashionably coordinated colors for their necklaces, you can still go psychedelic with yours and remember to make some to share with those you love. After all, that’s what “love beads” are all about.

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