PotomacBeads Best Bead Box Review – December 2019
PotomacBeads 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 December 2019 Review
This is still a new box so I really didn’t know what to expect:
There was 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 “Cerulean Calm.”
Winter Blues Hoop Earrings/Pendant Pattern
This is a new pattern that’s not available for purchase yet. PotomacBeads was promoting it on their email lists to advertise the subscription. It says “pendant” on this page but “earrings” in the information booklet. It turned out to be quite small, so I decided to go the earrings route, since enough materials were provided. It uses Rounduo Mini beads and size 15/0 seed beads, but I’ll bet you could make it bigger by using regular Rounduos and size 11/0 seed beads. (I haven’t shown the pattern for intellectual property issues.)
Potomac Crystal Oval, 13 x 18mm (1)
PotomacBeads has their own line of crystals. There aren’t quite as many colors and finishes as, say, Swarovski, but they’re constantly expanding the line with new and interesting shapes. This will likely be the centerpiece of a bracelet one day. I think the color is really pretty. (I don’t know if everyone receives the same colors of every item with this subscription.)
Rounduo Mini Beads (2 colors, 50 each)
This is a PotomacBeads exclusive shape. They have quite a few different exclusive shapes and you’ll usually receive a couple of them in each box. These were useful in the pattern provided this month and you can see them being used below.
Glass Cabochon, 18mm (1)
This box has featured glass cabochons before and it got me to go out and buy a bunch of them. I’ve linked to the category page for 18mm glass cabochons so you can see all they have to offer — there’s a little something for everyone.
These are out of stock but I’ve linked to the product page in case they get a new shipment in. I’ve been wanting to work with more filigrees lately so I am happy to have this one. I have a lot of matching findings in my stash.
You’ll usually get two sizes of seed beads in this box. So far we’ve had 15/0 in every box and usually 11/0, but this box had 8/0 instead. I use all three of these sizes regularly! These were used in this month’s pattern, which was pretty heavy on the seed beads. These are quite pretty up close but I don’t know if the picture does them justice. (Also there are cat hairs on my photography surface. Haha.)
Pewter Toggle (1)
We’ve received a clasp each month so far (as I recall). I think the silver tone of this one is good for all the blues we received and could easily be used in a bracelet or necklace using the components from this box.
Although the box didn’t have an obvious winter theme, the colors are certainly wintry, and this goes along with all the blues and whites. I may have missed this one on the PotomacBeads website but I did link to the main page there for pewter charms so you can see what other types of items they offer.
Stormduo Beads (25)
Stormduos are another exclusive PotomacBeads shape and they are kind of expensive so I am always happy to receive them in a box. These have an AB coating (I think) on a jet (black) base and offer a nice contrast to some of the whites and lighter colors in the box. There are a ton of patterns out there calling for Stormduos.
Miyuki 8/0 Beads (5g)
This is the first month we’ve received 8/0 seed beads. These are lined with a metallic color that I like a lot. Although I wouldn’t say I used size 8/0 as often as I use 11/0, there is a definite place for them in my collection. Also, a jump ring will usually fit through a size 8/0, which can be handy when finishing a bracelet.
Es-O Beads (2 colors, 4g total)
I don’t have too many Es-O beads in my collection, but I do have some. It is actually kind of hard to find these (these are the full-size ones, not the minis) in the US, but PotomacBeads has them in a ton of colors. These can sometimes be substituted for other 2-hole beads in patterns and can give the resulting projects a different look.
Pyramid Beads, 12 mm (2)
There are two sizes of pyramid beads; these are the larger ones. They have two parallel holes running through the base and are good central elements in geometric designs. This has a lila vega (so, like, purple and red) coating over a matte jet black.
Pellet Beads (15)
Pellet beads have been around for a long time; they are from Preciosa, a major Czech bead manufacturer. I’ve also seen them called “peg,” “hourglass,” and even “diabolo,” though I’m not sure where that last one came from. These have a lovely sliperit coating over shiny opaque black and will be useful in a pattern.
Czech Faceted Rounds, 6mm (20)
These are handy to have. I just made a pattern today for another bead box that called for 6mm rounds and I can now use these to make it in a different color scheme. Plus, this color goes with pretty much anything.
There are multiple sizes of daggers out there, and some have two holes, while others have only one (these have one hole and they are the larger size). They are good as dangles or edges in designs, and also are sometimes used as flower petals in pendants.
Cotton Pearls, 12mm (2)
This was something completely new to me. I’d never seen these before. I gather they are small balls of cotton with a pearl-like coating. They are very lightweight. I would only use them in earrings or necklaces as I would be afraid they’d get smashed. They’re pretty delicate. I’ve ordered some more to play around with.
Czech Rings (20)
This is another Czech shape that’s been around for awhile but doesn’t get a lot of attention. I need to find some patterns to use with these. I do have a lot of beads in my stash that will match these so it should be easy to find coordinating beads.
I went with earrings for this pattern, as I noted earlier, since they are kind of small. In the first photo, you can see my tools. I used some blue anodized niobium earring hooks since I had them and the color worked. I tried Miyuki Dura-Line thread since I’d bought it. After working with it, I think it reminds me of a cross between Nymo and Fireline, and I still kind of prefer Fireline, but the Dura-Line seems strong and has a nice drape if you are trying to make something like a bracelet with less stiffness. I’m pleased that this pattern has finally made me understand right-angle weave with 2-hole beads, as well. It did take a long time to make both earrings but there are a lot of size 15/0 seed beads involved.
Here are the finished earrings.
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 1 glass cabochon, they come in assorted packs of 5). However, I thought this box was exceptionally well-done. There was so much stuff in there! And even though I spend a lot of time shopping the PotomacBeads website, I had never seen the cotton pearls before, so I still learned about some new items despite being a longtime customer.
On another note, Facet Jewelry Box ended recently 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 $1.37 per item (I counted the pattern as an item since they do sell those).
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What did you think of the December 2019 PotomacBeads Best Bead Box? Do you subscribe to any beading or craft boxes?