S&A Beads is Moving!

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Abraham Silverman | 3 comments

After 20+ years at our home base on Laurel Avenue in Takoma Park, S&A Beads is moving across the boundary between the City of Takoma Park, MD to the Takoma neighborhood in the District of Columbia. Our new home is three blocks from the old space. Very near the Takoma Station on Metro Red Line, across from Starbucks, next door to Busboys and Poets and Politics & Prose bookshop. A Yoga shop is coming three doorways away.

Our new address is 235 Carroll Street NW, Washington, DC 20012

Many thanks to all of our customers who have stopped in to wish us well!  We deeply appreciate all your love and support!!!


Posted in Moving!, Store News

The Bead Politics of Beadtopia

Posted on June 28, 2016 by Larry Silverman | 2 comments

S & A Beads, a small gift and bead boutique in Takoma Park, MD has created what may be the first political cartoon this election season made almost entirely of beads. Its latest store window portrays the leading figures of this weird presidential contest - Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders - under the banner of the Republic of Beadtopia. The word balloons above the bobble headed figures reflect the character and positions of each of the candidates:
  • Bernie (hands outstretched): Beads for everybody. 
  • Hillary (holding a strand of broken pearls): I can fix it. 
  • And Donald, (standing next to some really big beads): My beads are huge.  
The main characters are surrounded by smaller figures made from beads carrying placards which echo the great issues of the day. Some examples: 
  • Black beads matter, 
  • Insurance coverage for crystal healing, 
  • All beads all bathrooms, 
  • Give beads a chance, 
  • We will have a bead on the moon by the end of this decade.  

And many more. The closer you look the funnier it gets. Says Cheryl Moody, senior artist at S & A Beads and the designer of the window, "The election news is so depressing, I felt I had to do something to lighten my own mood."  According to Larry Silverman, owner of S & A, "Our customers really love it. Many have suggested additional placards. I am very proud of the wit and the craftsmanship evident in this shop window."

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Mathematically-Inspired Fashion Jewelry by L.S. Watson on Display at S&A Beads!

Posted on April 07, 2016 by Abraham Silverman | 0 comments

As part of our participation in the Takoma Park ART HOP 2016, this weekend, April 9 and 10th, S & A Beads will feature jewelry artist and math whiz, L.S. Watson. His elegant silver, bronze and copper jewelry faithfully represents three dimensional geometric forms discovered by mathematicians during the last 150 years: example, things like the Moebius Strip.

Larry is fascinated with the Geometry of Minimal Surfaces, sometimes called the Geometry of Soap Bubbles.  The idea is that when children wave or blow into their soap bubble wands, the shapes that result contain the least surface area of any shapes that could be formed under the same conditions. Deep stuff in a child’s soap bubble!

Larry is not content to create the forms in metal, but he manipulates them as well: What happens when a strip is folded or twisted together with another strip of the same type? To achieve these effects in metal jewelry, the artist has recourse to 3-D printing and other state of the art tools. The solution to the geometry and engineering problems turns out to be the most elegant and intriguing personal ornaments I have seen in a very long while.

Check out our shop window this week-end to see L.S. Watson's beautiful jewelry in person -- and than walk around to the other stores in Takoma Park to see wonderful art from all of the Art Hop participants!  Math majors have always understood the beauty of their subject. Now all of us can see it, and wear it as well.

Posted in 3-D Printing, Larry Watson, Moebius Strip

Ancient Egyptian Beads in ... Scandinavia!?!

Posted on March 11, 2016 by Abraham Silverman | 0 comments

We at S&A Beads are always proud to be in one of the world's most ancient professions -- the bead business, of course!  And in that spirit, we pass along this fabulously fascinating article about modern archaeological digs in Denmark, which turned up beads from all over the world, from ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia (or modern day Iraq).  According to the article, one Danish woman's tomb even showed glass beads made by the same glass factory that made jewelry for King Tut:  

"... the blue beads buried with the women turned out to have originated from the same glass workshop in Amarna that adorned King Tutankhamun at his funeral in 1323 BCE. King Tut´s golden deathmask contains stripes of blue glass in the headdress, as well as in the inlay of his false beard."

Just wonderful to think of ancient Scandinavians trading amber to ancient Egyptians for glass beads!   Read the full article here:  http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/archaeology/1.707620?v=FB36077E706EF857155BE36F897EFDC5

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Naomi Lindstrom

Posted on March 08, 2016 by Abraham Silverman | 1 comment

Naomi Lindstrom was one of the great bead collectors of the 20th century.  She passed away a few years ago after amassing one of the finest bead collections in history.  Her personal story is just wonderful -- working as a Pan Am stewardess in the 1950s, she traveled all over the world buying beads with her per diem!  (There are some great stories about her http://articles.latimes.com/1996-04-22/news/ls-61496_1_coral-beads and a nice article by Jamey Allan about her collection in this PDF: http://www.beadsocietyofnorcal.org/pdfs/BSNC_Newsletter_April_2013.pdf.)

So we in the bead collecting community watched with bated breath as Mrs. Lindstrom's collection was auctioned off earlier this week.  There are some very lucky bead buyers out there -- but for the rest of us, just flipping through the catalog (which includes some Pan Am days pictures and discussion of her charitable work with Tibetan refugees) is quite fascinating!  http://www.beadsocietyofnorcal.org/pdfs/BSNC_Newsletter_April_2013.pdf.  The Tibetan silver needle case on a strand of unbelievable Tibetan coral was one of the highlights!


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Hand Made Paper from Nepal

Posted on September 24, 2015 by Larry Silverman | 0 comments


The BeadStore is proud to be offering handmade paper from Nepal.  Lokta paper, as it is called, is made from the bark of a laurel type bush that grows in the understory of the forests in the middle mountains of the Himalayan range. Nepalis have been earning a livelihood from harvesting bark and making lokta paper for nearly 2000 years. Ancient Hindu and Buddhist sacred books, some of which still survive, were transcribed on this paper, which is acid free, insect resistant and very durable. Nepal's long awaited democratic constitution, which was just ratified days ago, is also transcribed on this extraordinary hand crafted paper. In addition to its archival properties, lotka paper is  very beautiful. 

We offer lokta paper in large sheets which are ideal for gift wrap and craft projects, as diaries and note books in different sizes and designs, as cards and picture frames. One fabulous value is a stationary set consisting of 12 sheets of writing paper, 6 envelopes, and 6 post cards, all packaged beautifully in  a filing envelope, ideal for saving keepsakes and letters. Only $15.

We are especially proud to be selling this product for two reasons. First is sustainability. Lokta plants are self-generating. All that is needed is a healthy forest in which the plants can grow.  The paper trade encourages the people of Nepal to preserve and protect their forest by providing a steady income stream, especially to women, which depends on keeping the forest healthy. In this regard, lokta production is like eco-tourism, harvesting of medicinal products and wild fruit and vegetables, all of which support the people as they support the forest.

The second reason is about us. The use of handmade paper to express our visions and ideas is a kind of antidote to the hyperactive and frenetic world of instant messages, snap chats and the like which shape and distort our daily consciousness. This beautiful paper, embellished with ancient motifs and floral patterns, is a reminder to be mindful. Great gifts for ourselves and our loved ones. Each product contains a short explanation of the paper’s origins and importance.

We don’t usually reveal our sources, but make an exception in this case. When you get to Kathmandu, Nepal, don’t miss the Shangri-La Book Shop on Yak & Yeti Street, right across the way from the gate of the elegant Yak & Yeti Hotel. It is a very small shop, smaller even than our own bead store in Takoma Park. MD. But what an extraordinary collection of books and CD’s about Himalayan art, culture, religion, music and politics. Fabulous coffee table books on Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture, and ancient history! Also great post cards and extraordinary music CD’s with mantras and ragas (we bought six and gave them to friends and family with a bent for eastern meditations and rhythms. Great hits as gifts!)  And of course this wonderful Lotka paper! 

Posted in Diaries, Kathmandu, Lokta, Nepal, paper, Scrapbooking, Shangri-La, wrapping paper

Ask the Bead Man

Posted on September 14, 2015 by Larry Silverman | 9 comments

 A customer writes the following: I came across your fabulous site was wondering if you would entertain a couple of questions for me.  I came across some African Trade Beads (pics attached) and have really no idea what I have.  Would you be so kind as to enlighten me a bit?  Thank you for reading my email and for your consideration.  

The pictures attached are examples of what is called African Amber beads.  To learn more about these beautiful amber toned beads check out the following items in our store:




These beads, made from an early form of plastic (Phenolic resin, to be precise) in Germany in the early 20th century, have an organic quality in that they develop richer colors and small cracks as they age and absorb body oils. The ones featured above are very valuable. In general age and the effects of aging determine the value of African amber.  Some African amber beads are actually copal, which is a natural tree resin that has aged over hundreds of years. The material is very soft and and has an incense fragrance when burned. True amber, the type that comes from the Baltic Sea area (Russia, Poland, Estonia, etc.) is tree resin that has been curing for millions of years, sometimes hundreds of millions of years. See for example www.beadstore.com/products/baltic-amber-raw-nugget-necklace.




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Posted in African amber beads, amber, baltic, cheddar stacks, copal