Carol Ann Newman was in a tizzy.
The crystal bracelet she had been working on had vanished. It was nowhere to be found in My Bead Gallery, the Englewood shop where Carol Ann and her fellow crafters gather to form the Thursday Beaders group.
She was about to crawl under the table where she had been sitting next to Jeannette Wineland, the group’s unofficial spirit guide.
“Is it anywhere in the drawers?” someone asked.
Eventually, Carol Ann found the bracelet on top of a glass shelf in the shop, which is filled to the gills with the stuff of beading. It had slipped through a hole in the plastic bucket she was using for supplies.
Carol Ann did not have to crawl under the table after all. Crisis averted. All was well.
“It fell into one of the little bowls of stones,” the Punta Gorda woman reported. “It’s my mother’s.”
A collective sigh of relief went up among the nine women.
They have been meeting Thursdays and Sundays for a number of years to pursue the craft of beading. While they’re at it, they socialize, snack on cookies and candy, and admire one another’s work. They also belong to a group called the Gulf Coast Bead Society, which has 60 members.
Joan Hurn of Lake Suzy was working on a peyote-with-a-twist pattern that would one day become a necklace. Or maybe just a bracelet. She hadn’t decided. Carol Ann got her into the craft a year ago.
“Every time she would show me a new piece, it was so beautiful,” Joan said. “And then she said, ‘Well, you can do this, you know.’ I was hooked. Plain and simple I was hooked.”
The other members of the group were Sandy Jones, Dena Baby, Carol Tufari, Paula Bush, Debbie Easterday and Wini Bender.
The craft has been defined as a pastime of stringing beads together to make jewelry or other decorative items.
Don’t tell the Thursday Beaders that. Such a simplistic description ties them in knots.
“We don’t just string beads together,” said Jeannette, who goes by Nettie in the group. “You need to be able to read a pattern” in much the same way as in sewing.
“We teach each other stuff,” Nettie said. “Someone learns a new stitch, we’re always happy to teach each other. We’re just very good friends. We have a good time.”
Nettie, who lives in Port Charlotte, does bead weaving, a complicated process that requires focus and manual dexterity. She is the only one in the group who sells her creations. She is a regular at craft shows all around the area. She goes by Beading Chick for that one.
She has been at it for 15 years.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Jeannette, Nettie the Bead Chick continued. She pointed to Sandy, of Port Charlotte, working diligently on a piece of jewelry, not talking to a soul.
“Sandy cannot bead and talk at the same time,” Nettie revealed. “I can’t tell you how many times she has been working on this and had to tear it all out. And she goes home, and her husband says, ‘You didn’t do anything today?’”
Apparently, beading requires patience too.
The beaders work on various patterns such as peyote, peyote with a twist and herringbone. It takes at least a couple days to finish a piece.
Carol Tafuri, the elder of the group, was fashioning a pair of butterfly earring. She has been beading since Hurricane Charley swooped into the area in 2004. A long time.
Why, she was asked, did she decide to start beading?
“Hurricane Charley,” she deadpanned.
Apparently, beading also requires a sense of humor.
The beaders are in a bit of a pinch right now. Their meeting place must be sold by the end of March or it will close and the beaders will have to find another home.
The shop’s number is 941-460-8800.