PotomacBeads Best Bead Box Review – October 2019
Potomac Beads Best Bead Box is a new subscription box from the folks at PotomacBeads. They offer two versions, the Best Bead Box for $25.99 and the Best Bead Box XL for $39.99. (The XL version has two paper patterns and a PDF pattern and about twice the materials. Both boxes have links to video tutorials for additional projects using the included beads.) There is also a pattern subscription where you get 5 PDF patterns for $5 per month.
This is a review of the “Best Bead Box” version for $25.99/month.
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About PotomacBeads Best Bead Box
The Subscription Box: PotomacBeads Best Bead Box
The Cost: $25.99 per month on a month-to-month basis; save with longer subscriptions
The Products: Materials and instructions to complete one beading/jewelry project, plus a lot of other fun beads and links to video tutorials with ideas on how to use them.
Ships to: The US (free) and international ($4.99)
PotomacBeads Best Bead Box October 2019 Review
This is a new box so I really didn’t know what to expect:
There was a welcome card; I’m not yet sure if this’ll be a regular inclusion or if it’s just for the first box.
There was also an information booklet that included a list of the items and a link to some video tutorials to give you more ideas. I’ve hidden the link since it’s a benefit of the subscription. This month’s theme is “Red Carpet.”
There was also some advertising material. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a half dozen of these at home since I do order from PotomacBeads fairly often. Anyway, now on to the items:
These are a nice change of pace from the usual 4mm firepolished rounds I use in patterns. And there are enough of them here to complete a nice pattern, or a right-angle weave bracelet, or something of that nature. Also I am not sure what it is about this color/finish combination, but I really like it.
Here are some 3mm beads in the same shape and a coordinating color. This is a nice fall color and I like how the facets show up and reflect light with this color. These go pretty well with the other colors in the box, as well. (In general, I thought color selections for the box were nicely coordinated.)
These are 2-hole round beads that are a bit smaller than the standard RounDuos. These are glass and they are a PotomacBeads exclusive item. (Potomac has a lot of exclusive shapes and I expect we’ll be seeing more of them in future months.) I used some of these in a pendant this month as the included pattern called for them.
RounTrios are, as you might expect, 3-hole beads. They come in faceted (what we see here) and smooth versions, and are also Potomac exclusives. I used these in the pendant I made this month as well. You can see a picture below.
These are not a Potomac exclusive but they are useful and were needed for the pattern included in the box. There were quite a lot left over and I may use them to create beaded bezels around the fancy stone, rivoli, or glass cabochon (see below).
Here is a second size of seed bead. This is also useful. In a lot of projects, I do use multiple sizes. And these silver-lined red ones are very pretty. After making the pendant from the pattern, I have plenty of these left over for other uses as well. (That was one gripe I had with Facet Jewelry, there was never anything extra, like if you dropped a few or a hole was blocked. Doesn’t seem to be a problem here.)
It is nice to see some findings here. It often doesn’t occur to me that Potomac sells findings but this is a good reminder, and these are useful in general. I actually used a couple of them in my Bead Crate project for this month because they were the closest earwires I had at hand. I did break one with my pliers so be careful, but most of them seemed to be in great shape.
Magnetic clasps are absolutely wonderful for bracelets (as long as they’re not super heavy). They are so easy to use, even if the person wearing them has arthritis or lacks dexterity. This one seems pretty strong and I like the little embedded crystals.
This is just another really useful supply to have in a common size. I have quite a lot of patterns calling for 6mm rounds and these will work just as well as druks or firepolished beads, plus their neutral color will work in a lot of color schemes.
This is BIG. It will be great in a necklace centerpiece. I have a couple others of these because I went on a Potomac crystal buying binge a few months back. This is the kind of item you don’t really see in other bead boxes so I’m glad to have it here.
This is a pretty standard rivoli but with an interesting frosted finish. It will work with pretty much any pattern that calls for a rivoli (I think it is 14mm but there is a possibility it is 12mm because I don’t have it right next to me as I am writing this but at any rate, there are plenty of patterns available for both sizes).
This is a shape I don’t have much of (maybe not any? I’m actually not sure) but I like unusual shapes like this and it’s not a shape I see from the other major crystal manufacturers. I think these would be really good in right-angle weave and would look a little bit like a ladder, perhaps with some embellishments at the edges.
There are 1-hole and 2-hole halo beads and these are the 2-hole kind. These all got used when I made the pattern in the box but I kind of like how it came out and I have a whole lot of other halo beads already so I may try some similar projects with the ones from my stash.
Tubelet beads are a relatively new offering from Potomac. I haven’t seen them anywhere else so I think they are also exclusive. Anyway, they are a common length for bugle beads but they are thicker and the edges are smoother so they won’t cut your thread quite the same way. Plus they come in a lot of the colors that other shaped Czech glass beads come in, so it is easy to plan projects by color.
DiscDuos are another Potomac exclusive product. They are flattened discs with smooth, rounded edges and two holes. This is a nice fall mix of colors. There are plenty of patterns on the Potomac site that make use of these and they can also be substituted for other 6mm diameter 2-hole beads in patterns (like the 6mm 2-hole cabochons, or Preciosa candy beads, etc.).
Table cut buttons are also a Potomac exclusive. I have a few but not as many as I’d like. This particular color goes very well with my stash. A lot of Potomac bracelet patterns call for these to be used as part of a button clasp.
I often buy really cheap tassels so I have missed out on the silk ones, but that is probably going to change because this is really, really nice. Probably the nicest tassel I have used. This was part of the pendant pattern that came with the box.
I knew Potomac sold these, but I had never bought any, but now that I have one in my hands, I kind of like it and think I want to get more of them. I would probably opt to use this with more blues and purples and greens due to the included colors, but that’s no trouble, I’m sure I already have anything I would need. (I don’t know if everyone got the same colors of everything or not.)
Lunar Pendant Pattern – Retail Value $5
I haven’t shown you the directions because Potomac sells patterns for $5 each on their website and in their Etsy store. Anyway, this version of the box comes with one printed pattern and here it is. I made a necklace with this pendant, which you can see below. This worked up quickly and was easy to understand. Mine kind of bulged out in the middle when I tightened the string at one point, but that gives it some dimension and keeps it from flopping and turning around backwards, so I don’t mind. (The link is to the PDF version of the pattern but of course the printed version came in the box.)
Verdict: I did not calculate a value for the PotomacBeads Best Bead Box since, although they do sell all the items in their shop, they are not always in the same quantities (i.e., you can’t buy just 4 halo beads, they come in 10 packs). However, I thought this box was exceptionally well-done. There was so much stuff in there! And although I’ve worked with a lot of the items from this box in the past, I had not used any of the silk tassels or glass cabochons before, and I really like both of them now that I have them in hand and will definitely be buying more. (I am pretty sure this is part of the intent of the box — getting Potomac exclusive products in subscribers’ hands…) Not much is required to get started; you do need beading thread and something like Wildfire or FireLine is probably best so it doesn’t get cut on the holes in the halo beads. You also need a needle. And you need one wire guard. I had plenty, but if you don’t have one, you can always just use a bail, a loop of seed beads, a soldered jump ring, or some combination of those to make a loop for your chain. (Also, you don’t have to use a chain — you can use a silk cord or you can string beads on beading wire to make something more ornate, there are really a lot of options.)
On another note, Facet Jewelry Box ended as of last month so if you liked the idea of getting patterns along with your beads, this might be a good replacement. It’s at a similar price point and although there is only one pattern in this version of the box, the video tutorials give you plenty of other ideas. You may need to have a small stash or place orders for a few items as needed, but you don’t have to supply a ton of stuff to do these projects.
To Wrap Up:
Value Breakdown: At $25.99 per box, you are paying about $1.30 per item (I counted the pattern as an item since they do sell those).
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What did you think of the October 2019 Potomac Beads Best Bead Box? Do you subscribe to any beading or craft boxes?