Beadology holds 10th Annual Bead Challenge

For the last 10 years, Beadology has held a Bead Challenge for its customers encouraging them to try new things and push their creative limits.


Cecilia Shearon

Artwork is displayed during Beadology’s 10th Annual Bead Challenge Exhibit on Oct. 15, 2021. All artists were given the same materials to incorporate into their piece.

Anaka Sanders, Arts Reporter

As the University of Iowa’s Homecoming parade marched down the street, inside Beadology on Washington Street, the 10th-annual Bead Challenge was being held.

Owned by sisters and UI alums Karen and Laurel Kubby, the bead store offers its own finished, locally made jewelry line, beads, and tools. The challenge is held annually to celebrate creation, more than it is to name a winner, Kubby said, since it can be intimidating to be judged. There are no winners in the bead challenge— instead, four contestants’ names will be drawn at random to receive a $25 gift certificate.

“Part of our business’s philosophy is that you don’t judge — we help people accomplish what they want to accomplish,” she said. “Our job is to listen to what they want to do and help them get there with materials and technical advice.”

Contestants had to buy a $25 kit that included five to seven bead elements. If they used one of each bead anywhere in their piece and turned it in on time, they could be in the challenge.

This year the challenge kit included a bag of clear Silverline seed beads, clear elongated bugle beads, a half drilled blue 1940s spun glass bead, a large India glass bead, black and gold metallic satin cord, and a few silver music notes.

Kubby said the beads can be used to make any sort of piece — not only jewelry. She joked that if someone were to decorate a motorcycle with the beads, they would display it.

The store held a reception inside their store to celebrate the pieces that were created on Friday evening. Laughter and chatter filled the store as all the artists discussed the details behind their beadwork.

“My favorite part of the bead challenge is during the opening reception, when I hear the artists talking to each other,” Kubby said. “They’ll complain about how hard this one thing was to use or how they pushed themselves and what they learned.”

Zanetta Hoehle from Solon, Iowa, who has participated in the challenge for several years, said she will definitely take part again next year.

“I always do,” she said.

Hoehle created a necklace for this year’s challenge, but said she found it difficult to use the blue glass bead because the hole in the bead did not go all the way through. Hoehle decided to cage the bead inside the other beads to create a large pendant.

“I always like working with something that I normally wouldn’t buy myself,” Hoehle said. “It pushes you.”

Contestant Maree Sarow is originally from Michigan. When she moved to Iowa, a woman in her neighborhood told her about Beadology, and she started coming in regularly. After taking a few beading classes, she joined the bead challenge.

Sarow said her favorite beads to work with were all the clear ones because she loves the feel of them.

“I thought, ‘Let’s put them on happy colors and let them have a good time,” Sarow said.

Rather than jewelry, she created a round, flat table piece.

The beads designs will be on display at Beadology through Oct. 21, but pictures will be available on their website for around two years.