Looking for a way to save money on Christmas gifts and share a part of yourself at the same time?
First, you need some inspiration on what to make for those people. Bronwyn Thompson-Henry, owner of Beadworks in Fells Point, and Penny Diamanti deWidt, owner of the Beadazzled shops in Washington and Baltimore, offer the following advice:
* Gather some facts about the person. What are their favorite colors in clothing? Do they wear earrings and are they clip or pierced? Do they prefer conservative or wild styles? Do they like necklaces that are dainty or clunky? Do they prefer a look that is casual or dressy?
* Look around for a meaningful object to include in the jewelry. It could be an old coin that you brought back from Hong Kong or an old family necklace. For example, Ms. deWidt says two sisters took apart their mother's necklace and, with the help from other beads, they each had a necklace reminding them of their mother.
* Look for inspiration. Tomlinson Craft Collection, 516 N. Charles St., has a bead jewelry exhibit on display through Dec. 2. The bead stores have books, pictures and samples on display. And don't forget museum shops and retail stores.
* If want a simple way out, merely pick hoops with a few sets of beads in different colors that can be interchanged. Or select a $1 hatpin base and add baubles of your choice.
Select something easy to start. You can put together a pair of earrings in less than 10 minutes for as little as $2.50. It's easy. The hardest part is learning how to work the pliers to make the earring loop.
Ms. deWidt says one customer best described the joy of beading:
"First I enjoy picking out the beads," she told Ms. deWidt. "Then I have a good time making the jewelry. Next I admire the finished piece and finally, when someone compliments me on the piece, I get to tell them that I made it."