FYI: This subscription box is ending. This review is of the final delivery.
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About Vintage Bead Box
The Subscription Box: Vintage Bead Box
The Cost: $25/month
The Products: Beads and findings made from a variety of materials (glass, wood, semiprecious stones, metal, acrylic, etc.). Most were manufactured between 1930 and 1970.
Ships to: The US (free), Worldwide (additional shipping charges will apply)
Vintage Bead Box January 2020 Review
All Vintage Bead Boxes are now themed. This month’s theme was “Roaring Twenties”:
There isn’t a traditional information card with this box because, owing to the nature of the contents (i.e., limited supply), every box could be a little different.
A note on prices: Because these beads are vintage, they can’t be purchased separately from any sources. Further, materials, country of manufacture, and more, can be a little difficult to determine precisely. Thus, I have opted not to provide prices in this review.
Please note that no directions are given and you have to supply your own needles, stringing materials, tools, and findings.
Rhinestone Spacer Beads
These are fun. I actually just bought a ton of similar beads with Swarovski crystals in them, but these will be nice for when I want that aged brass look (of course the ones I bought look shiny and new). I plan to use these between some gemstone rounds and I may or may not also include some pearls.
Faceted Glass Beads
These have a reflective or maybe AB coating on them. They are a pretty color that would work well in wintry designs. I haven't used them yet but I may also use these with some pearls (faux or real, I'm not yet sure). These would probably also work in a pattern, I think they are about 8mm in diameter.
Each month of Vintage Bead Box typically includes some seed beads or bugle beads. I don't use bugle beads as often as I'd like so I did come up with something for these, this month, which you can see below. I have some left, though, and this champagne color will go with a lot of different color schemes.
Faceted Glass Beads
These are some smaller (maybe 4mm) English cut firepolished beads that will be great in a pattern or in a memory wire bracelet or even just some right angle weave, since there are a lot of them.
Faux Pearl Beads
These are great! They're huge so they'll probably go in a necklace (I have small wrists so I tend to not wear bulky bracelets). I've been wanting to do more work with large beads lately so it is nice to have these on hand.
Faux Pearl Beads
There are faux pearls almost every month with this subscription and this month, we got two different types. I did use a lot of these in my necklace this month; I felt their color went nicely with the bugle beads.
These are top-drilled rivoli pendants; you can still find some similar beads being made today, though they are often quite expensive. I think these are really pretty. The necklace idea I had this month involved some fringe and these seemed like a good way to end the fringe.
Faceted Glass Beads
(Yes, I have cat hairs on my beading surface. And every other surface in my house.) These are graduated in size and I think they could be really fun in a graduated right-angle weave project, with the largest one in the middle. It might be a good opportunity to use some of my other clear beads, or some nice creams and whites and a little gold-toned metal, along with them.
These are sort of irregular. I used them to do right-angle weave and it turned out a little uneven because of their different sizes. But I think it worked. You can see what I mean below.
A couple of years ago, I bought some pyrite, and when I dug it out of my stash, it had reacted with moisture in the air and it looked really weird, so these may be coated with something to prevent that reaction from happening, because they are still in good shape, despite being vintage. Pyrite is very heavy (well, its chemical formula is FeS2, so it is largely iron). As I learned during my grad school research, it is also very hard to grind with a mortar and pestle, but that is neither here nor there. I'm not sure how I will use these yet but it will not be in earrings.
I wasn't sure where I was going when I started working on this, I just did some right angle weave with the black beads and bugle beads. I used 6 lb Fireline because both the black beads and the bugle beads have kind of sharp edges. When I'd made a strip of sufficient length, I tried a few different things with the pearls, but settled on using them as a starting point for fringe, which got longer towards the center and then shortened back up again on the other side. I opted for some (inexpensive) chain to finish the look, which I attached using some jump rings and a lobster claw clasp from my stash. Here is the finished piece (I know there is some thread showing, I should probably go back over this and tighten things up a bit):
Verdict: I did not calculate a value for Vintage Bead Box, as explained above, but if you divide the total cost by the number of items, you are paying about $2.50 an item. This seems quite reasonable to me. If you browse Etsy or eBay, you can find similar groupings of vintage beads and findings for prices ranging from $2-$7 (and beyond). I'm sad that this subscription is ending as it was always one of my favorites.
For what it’s worth, everything arrives clean. I suspect at least some of it is from deconstructed vintage jewelry (but honestly, that is OK by me – I get fun beads and things stay out of the landfill). It is all clean and, so far, manufactured pretty well. Some beads show a little wear but that is part of the charm of working with vintage beads. Plus, a lot of the items are unusual and you’d have a hard time finding equivalents made from modern materials.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? This subscription has ended; this month was the last box.
Value Breakdown: At $25 for this box, you are paying about $2.50 per item.
What did you think of the January 2020 Vintage Bead Box? Do you subscribe to any beading or craft boxes?