I was running an errand in the NE Heights yesterday when, without even thinking about it, I pulled over and ended up in the Beaded Iris Bead Store. I’d never been in a place like this before; Beads everywhere! Mounded in baskets, rows of plastic tubes organized by color, and hanging from the wall in thick ropes of many strands. The lady asked if she could help me, but I’m sure she saw that newbie look in my eyes.

So I decided I needed some beads, but didn’t have a specific plan. I wanted them all! First I collected an assortment of colors in plastic tubes, then I put them back. Then I decided on bigger beads that came in strands – earth colors instead of the bright ones in the tubes – and then changed my mind again. The lady handed me a straw basket and helpfully offered to put things back for me (she probably figured I was putting them back wrong, which would be a real nightmare in this place). Then she went back to the counter and fell back into bead lingo with the other bead lady.

This bead store was different from, but similar in ways, to the yarn store with the yarn ladies (see my previous story about the Yarn Store, posted Oct. 31, 2008).

I kind of wanted to belong; but not too much.

After my third question that was stupid, “Why does the price tag say $3 on one side and $10 on the other side?” (Turns out $3 is the price and #10 is the size of the beads), and my second question that made the bead lady uncomfortable, “Do you have any skull beads?,” she decided to just leave me to shop by myself.

Until she heard that sickening sound: *POIK! skudder skudder skudder* – a thick rope of bead strands exploding in my hand sending millions of tiny beads flying behind the wall racks and all over the floor. I apologized, but I didn’t offer to pick them up, so sue me. I decided it was probably best to go on ahead and finalize my purchases and get the hell out of there.

But on my way to register, I thought of something else. “Do you have thread or something to string these beads?” Duh; a whole wall of string, line, thread and wire in a hundred sizes. She answered me in a different language so I just grabbed some white thread and then asked, “Do people use needles to string beads?” Back in the hippy days we just used fishing line which was stiff enough that you didn’t need a needle to string beads. She looked me right in the eye and said, “Do you want twisted wire needles or English beading needles? What gauge and length?” Okay, now she was just fucking with me. “I think short needles with a large eye,” I said, which I thought sounded good for a beginner.

Tubes and strands of beads, thread and needles and, $76 later, I was out the door and discovered a little Thai restaurant next door (fabulous little place, btw). Mentally exhausted, I ducked in there and ordered a beer and some vegetable curry. I spread my purchases out on the table and opened the intricately wrapped packet of needles, which were microscopic and seemed to be pointed on both ends, until I held one far enough away from my eyes to see that there was actually an eye on one end.

Finally got it threaded, when the waitress brought my cold beer, curry and a bowl of white rice. Ate a couple spoons of rice while waiting for the curry to cool, then – how to get the cap off this tube of beads? Using my teeth it came off suddenly, filling my mouth with blue beads. The waitress showed up in time to see me spitting blue and white rice into my hand. (Later the cook looked at me around the door, so she must have told him) I swallowed some of beads; had no choice.

Carefully, I poured little piles of each color of beads on the table and started to string them. This is fun! Until the waitress set a bottle of hot sauce on my table and the beads went everywhere. I can’t handle these tiny beads! I still had a lot left, but my little piles were now scattered all over the carpet. A bus boy came by with a carpet sweeper, but the beads just scampered in front of the vacuum and spread out even more. They’ll never get them up that way. I thought for a minute about suggesting they go talk to the bead lady next door, who probably knows all about the best way to clean up bead spills. But for some reason I didn’t want the bead ladies to know what I had done.

Left a good tip and headed back out into the hot afternoon to finish my errands in the Heights. Last night I dreamed that I made intricate beaded Rasta hats and sold them in a European open air market.

It was only a dream.


Views: 214

Comment by Rena on August 1, 2012 at 6:03pm

I was laughing out loud reading this! What a comedy of errors. 

Comment by Adelita on August 1, 2012 at 6:04pm

I LOVE this story!! For those of us crazies that love beads, we can all relate! I have two funny bead stories for you. 

I've been collecting beads for most of my life but didn't get serious about it until about 12 years ago...which means 12 years worth of literally hundreds of thousands of beads.  So think about a cart that I have with 7 drawers, all filled with plastic divided boxes all filled with beads sorted by color, or shape or size. Now think about that entire cart tipping over and having all my beads in a giant pile on the floor. I was so overwhelmed I cried and left it there for several days. Took me a while to deal with what happened and to finally start sorting them all out...bead by bead. I can laugh about it now!

The other funny story was when I found the Mecca of all bead stores in the garment district of NYC.  Beads floor to ceiling hanging there all sparkly waiting for me to buy them.  My daughter said that I wandered around the store in a daze, talking to myself out loud and freaking the sales clerk out! Happy beading to you and welcome to the world of beads!!

Comment by Adelita on August 1, 2012 at 6:07pm

By the way JMG, if you ever want to come over and string some beads, I'd be happy to teach you how!

Comment by JMG on August 1, 2012 at 6:30pm

Stop it right now, Lita.

Comment by Katys on August 1, 2012 at 6:30pm

I joined the world of beads two weeks ago when I signed up my two grand daughters for a necklace making class at Mama's Minerals. We loved it! I had to help the 6 year old and before we left the store a half an hour after the end of class the necklace she had made (I had squeezed the clasp to close it) came apart in her little hands. My bad!

I told the sale lady to just sell me whatever I needed to fix it back and 50.00 later we left. Two days later I was back to get what I needed to finish making a necklace that i had begun in 1971 with red beads and silver coins I got in Mexico. I had been wanting to complete that project all this time. 

Perhaps I should finish the quilt I began for my first child and never finished. I missed the chance to complete it before the grand daughters were born! 

Last year I unraveled the sweater I began for myself in 1994. I still imagine that I will become a knitter someday. I want to belong to the yarn crowd too! 

Comment by cathyray on August 1, 2012 at 7:58pm

ahahahahahaaa, sound like you got the dreaded bead fever!

Comment by JMG on August 1, 2012 at 9:18pm

People. Stop welcoming me to "the World of Beads." I'm already in the World of Motorcycles, the World of Flyfishing, the World of Pets and the World of Mosaic Tiling.  I can't take any more Worlds.  (These beads are going to be part of a mosaic tiling project I'm working on.  I think you'll like it, Lita.)

Comment by JMG on August 1, 2012 at 9:18pm

But if I ever get to retire, Look Out World of Beads!


Comment by Dee Cohen on August 2, 2012 at 7:02am

Funny story! I'm surprised that no one mentioned it is illegal in NM to drink beer and bead at the same. It's called Beading While Intoxicated (BWI). Dee

Comment by JMG on August 2, 2012 at 4:16pm

Hey, pssst, check this out: www.caravanbeads.net  Beads made out of seeds, wood, water buffalo horn. I like those!

Had to go back to the Beaded Iris today because I didn't buy enough skulls for my project.  I said to the lady, "I underestimated how many skulls I needed."  She laughed and said, "I know what you mean!"  Like she ever runs out of skulls.

I want to again recommend Thai Tip Restuarant (sic).  I have never had such fresh vegetables - like they just picked the green beans - in a curry.  Might be the best Thai food I've had in Albuquerque and it's so non-descript that it's easy to miss.




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