Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

October 7, 2007

The Happiest Place on Earth

No, not Disneyland. For beaders, it's Shipwreck Beads in Lacey, Washington. I wish I could have found a picture of the inside of the store because it's amazing. I have to limit myself to one trip per year, usually after Christmas, or else I'd spend vast quantities of money. This place is mecca. Seriously. I remember back in the early 90's when I was just starting out making jewelry, I got a tiny black & white catalog from this place up in Mud Bay, Washington. That was Shipwreck when they had a teeny tiny store and only a few beads. Since those days they have moved twice to larger spaces to accomodate their growing product line. When we first moved here, they were in Olympia and the store wasn't huge but it was homey and there was a killer mural on the wall of a beach scene with treasure chests overflowing with beads, a mermaid, pirate ship, etc. A few years ago they moved to their new space in an office park in Lacey, which is actually closer to me than the old store.

I've been to a lot of bead stores. In fact, whenever I travel, one of the first things I look up is the closest bead shop. My bead store travels include:

General Bead, and other stores that have since gone out of business, San Francisco, CA

Beads & Rocks and other stores that have since gone out of business, Berkeley, CA

Baubles & Beads, San Rafael, CA

Out on whim! - Cotati, CA

Garden of Beadin', Garberville, CA

Bead Emporium, Hyannis, MA

The Beadin' Path, Freeport, ME

Beadworld, Victoria, BC

Beadworks Granville Island, Vancouver, BC

Let it Bead, Portland, OR

Bead Man, Cannon Beach, OR

Blue Iris Beads, Kent, WA

The Bead Factory, Tacoma, WA

Imagine That!, Poulsbo, WA

The Bead Shop, Long Beach, WA (which is 2nd only to Shipwreck in my opinion)

My boss recently gave my coworker and me an unexpected, "just because" bonus to recognize our hard work and good attitude under the extremely stressful conditions under which we have been toiling this past year. So the first thing I did was go to Shipwreck Beads, of course. The store can be really, really overwhelming because it's so big. But, there are lots of helpful signs and the aisles are nice and wide so that you can easily wheel your shopping cart along without squeezing past someone else. There's a cafe that serves coffee, tea, bagels, juice, sandwiches and pop. There are large, clean restrooms and yesterday I noticed that they've created a nice waiting room with couches and a television, no doubt to placate cranky husbands who somehow found themselves shopping for beads with their wives instead of home watching the game like most other self-respecting husbands. But my "Men: The Unnecessary Accessory" rant is a subject for another time.

The key to shopping at Shipwreck is to go with a list of things you actually need, and get those first. After that, spend time wandering the aisles and getting stuff you want. Because you can never have enough beads you know. Like the line from the Grateful Dead song "I need a Miracle" says, "Too much of everything is just enough".

Here's the beaded booty I scored: Can you tell I favour blues, purples, greens and pinks?

I coveted this ornament which was in a 1/2-off bin. And the nesting box set had to come home with me as well.These are the supplies I had to shop for first, before indulging in the above stuff. Earhooks, crimp beads, split rings, beading wire, bead spacers, and crystals.

Finally, as I've mentioned, I collect marbles. I have wanted one of these "cat eye" or "miracle" style glass marbles for a long time, but I could never decide on a colour and they were also $15 each. Then they dropped to $7 each. Yesterday, they were on close-out, 6 for $16. "Patience, Grasshoppah. It is a virtue." The 5 round things below the marbles are little wooden marble stands. I bought 8 total and 3 of them are already being used for my sulphide marbles.


  1. Kristy5:39 PM

    What are sulphite marbles?

    Anyway, I'd love to get into this. I love beaded earrings on shepherd hooks. I'm afraid to even start though. This is the sort of thing that could end up taking what little storage space I have left if I'm not careful...

  2. Kristy: You are correct, there is a corner of our family room that is FILLED with beads and bead "gear"

    She could easily open a store.

  3. just a corner? i woulda thought that she had an entire room to store her treasures. if not, you could add an addition for her, couldn't you?

  4. kristy - i'd be glad to teach you if you want.

    Fen - he forgot to mention the storage area under the stairs, aka "craft annex"

  5. I guess in real life I could never "Marble" you, huh? You'd always have some on-hand, Jojo!

    BTW, the beads are stunning! Would u believe that I am still wearing the skull necklace you made me? I haven't taken it off since you sent it to me, NO SHIT!

    I guess Shipwreck is your Graceland huh? LOL!!!

  6. oh my word... they look so
    amazing and I feel just so
    virtuous if I get around to
    sewing on a button...

    there isn't an ounce of
    creativity in my fingers

    jojo, do you sell what you

  7. Ann - I'm so afraid of rejection that I haven't tried to sell anything up here, though I had some modest success in the Bay Area during the summer of 1996.

    I mostly make stuff then give it away to my friends, or donate it for charity auctions.

    Axe - Yeah, it is like Graceland, without the fried banana sandwiches!

  8. Anonymous2:17 PM

    'The happiest place on earth' for me would be skin on skin with Vincent D'Onofrio ;0)

  9. jojo: you're stuff is terrific;
    someone I know sells theirs on
    something called etsy (I've bought
    from her) and between you and me, your's is a lot lot better.

    it could be a lovely little
    earner for you

  10. My friend uses a lot of beads and the like, but I can't say whether she's like the shop or hate it - she's very businesslike about these things. Making jewellery for ballroom dancers is her bread-and-butter, though making their costumes is a great bonus. She's also doing some Elvis costumes. SO I'm not sure whether I should show her this or hide it!

  11. Jojo, you should really sell. I'll contract you to make certain things that I want to put on MERCHANDISE on my site.

    Whaddaya think?

  12. Axe - wow, that sounds like a plan! I'd love to hear your ideas and what you have in mind!

  13. You'd love Albuquerque. Old Town and the area around UNM are filled with bead stores.

  14. Patricia Nelson12:42 PM

    Do you carry an attachment that can hook beads to eyeglasses? I can find the attachment that is not adjustable for the glasses but the glasses fall off when you drop them down to your chest.
    When I buy commercial beads to hold my eyeglasses their bead attachements are adjustable.
    I would like to create my own beads to hold glasses so need the correct attachment.