To celebrate turning 75, many people choose a relaxing vacation or a great party; some people are happy just to make it through the day. Priscilla Beadle, Hull MA artist, challenges herself.
Inspired by a friend who was fascinated by the 52-drawer apothecary chest in her studio, Beadle decided to create a one-of-a-kind beaded necklace each week in 2017. Each neckpiece will originate from a different drawer. “I consider this an adventure fantasy trip,” enthuses Beadle. “Do I think about slowing down for 75? Do I think about maintaining? Or shouldn’t I speed up for a year?!” she laughs. “The fact I’m turning 75 makes me want to speed up!”
An English major in college, Beadle has lived her life by Robert Browning’s line, “…a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,/ Or what’s a heaven for?” This quote is the driving force behind all Beadle’s difficult and exciting endeavors. “It gives me permission to push myself,” she says. For her, this challenge is self-motivating as it produces a real accomplishment each week. “Sometimes you just have to push yourself to grow, stretch, and do things for yourself,” Beadle advises. She has already begun to write a maker’s journal that she will keep throughout the year.
Adding to Beadle’s motivation, her large vintage apothecary chest has 52 drawers; seven square drawers arranged in seven rows, with three large drawers at the bottom. Purchased in Hong Kong, the inspirational 1940’s era Elm wood apothecary chest is more than seven feet tall, four feet wide, with each drawer going 16 inches back.
“I’m going to start in the upper left corner drawer and work my way through every drawer, from left to right, top to bottom,” confides Beadle. She uses the chest to organize her vast collection of beads based on color and material. Each drawer has three compartments. The first necklace of the year will be drawn from Venetian glass beads which have been divided into silver/gold, blue/green, and red/orange groups. The second drawer has different color Venetian glass; black/white; purple/yellow; and multi-colored. The last drawer of the year contains faux amber—cherry, butterscotch, and yellow mock amber—resin beads from Indonesia.
Beadle keeps clasps and centerpieces in a special cabinet, not in the drawers. Center pendants can be made of glass, jade, silver, brooches, semi-precious gems, and oddities such as extraordinary buttons or other upcycled adornments.
Creating bead jewelry art since 1993, Priscilla Beadle first found inspiration for her bold, eclectic designs in the bazaars of Tibet and Nepal, in dusty shops in Beijing, on remote Indonesian islands reached by catamaran, in beautiful Bali, and in verdant Indochina—Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Each Beadleful design starts with a centerpiece—add whimsy, color excitement, texture, chunky beads, a fabulous clasp—a collectable necklace is born.
Priscilla Beadle returned to her hometown, Hull MA, in 2011. For 34 years she had lived in California, eleven in the historic mission town of San Luis Obispo. She brought her business, Beadleful, with her and crafted a comfortable studio for her work on the ground floor of her home. The spark of Beadleful ignited when, after 23 years in the corporate world, Priscilla retired in 1993 to accompany her husband on his job assignment in Hong Kong. Southeast Asia became her handicraft fantasy world as she hunted for beads: –odd, large, ethnic, contrarian beads; antique or contemporary glass beads; rare and unusual colors; textures that lead to touching. Whether traveling the world or stalking New England galleries, successful bead hunting inspires the bold eclectic designs that characterize Priscilla’s unique necklaces and bracelets.
For more information or to arrange a studio tour, please visit https://priscillabeadle.com/