Battle of the Bead Magazines

March 20, 2010

Well, it’s not really a battle. Unless the staffs decide to create bands and jump on stage somewhere. 😀

This go-round it seems a good time to review the biggest beading magazines. In the United States there are three:

Bead & Button: The slickest of the group. A “New York Times” of beading. Published by Kalambach Books, and the main sponsor of the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee every June. (One year I’m year.) The magazine has been around over 15 years and still going strong.  It was the first beading magazine I purchased. I still read it occasionally for inspiration. My most recent favorite feature was a special 6-part design “tutorial” by Diane Fitzgerald.  It was a great idea to keep people (myself included) buying until the final installment. It’s in my idea binder. Here are a few of my musings about Bead & Button:

Love: Artist interviews – they are indepth and the photography is outstanding. The reader gets a solid idea of what the artist is about.

Like: “Basics” pages. The pages list and illustrate basic techniques. It helped me when I first started beading. There is a difference between a surgeon’s knot and overhand knot.

Like: The project photography. Clear, crisp photos of the project and the instruction illustrations.

Bead & Button is sometimes geared more to the experienced beader, but a beginner can find helpful information also.

Next up Beadwork: This magazine has something for everyone. It underwent a revamp a few months back, and it was definitely for the better.  Projects are clearly labeled for skill level, and there is a good mix for beginner to advanced. Published by Interweave Press, it’s part of the family including Cloth, Paper, Scissors, Stringing, Step by Step Beads, and Quilting Arts. Interweave also sponsors BeadFest. (I reviewed BeadFest in August)

Love: Variety of projects. I find myself more willing to attempt a new stitch based on something seen in this magazine.

Love: Bead Buzz, Cool Stuff,  and Katie’s Finds. It’s wonderful to see what other readers used for inspiration and what beading groups are doing. (Buzz) Katie’s Finds & Cool Stuff are great sources of new and exciting products.  (The April May issue has a mention of Beading The Creative Spirit, the book I reviewed a few months back. Congratulations Wendy!)

Like: The Bead Artist column. Wish they could be a little longer sometimes, but they are well written.

Like: The Techniques pages. More stitches and techniques are listed here than in Bead & Button. Much better for beginners.

The third magazine up: Bead Unique

Bead Unique is the “least slick” of the three. By no means are the projects less complicated or beautiful. I mean the magazine has a “down home” vibe to it.  They used to co-sponsor one of the New York City bead shows, but it appears not any longer.

Love: The bead store features (“I Could Just Live Here!”). Reading them really makes me say that. It’s wonderful to get a sense of what it takes to provide products and a place for artists to congregate and learn.

Love: The artist profiles. It’s fun to read about the people behind the bead, then meet them at a show. And the artist gets a kick out of it too.

Like: The Gallery. The photography is wonderful, and it’s not just beads.

Love: That the magazine includes home decor items in every issue. Great way to provide variety.

My personal favorite? I’m not telling. 😀 I find something in each of them that appeal to me. All of them provide inspiration, some more than others depending on what I’m working on.  Maybe one day all three publishers can get together and produce a show. Then we could have a karaoke battle between the editors. Whoooo!


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