PotomacBeads Best Bead Box Review – September 2020
PotomacBeads Best Bead Box is a 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 five PDF patterns for $5 per month.
This is a review of the “Best Bead Box” 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 for free and worldwide for $4.99
PotomacBeads Best Bead Box September 2020 Review
This is still a fairly new box but I am getting to know what to expect by now:
There was an information booklet that included a list of the items and a link to some video tutorials to give you more ideas. This month’s theme is “Birds of a Feather.”
On to the items:
1 Birds of a Feather Pattern
Every month you will get one printed pattern as well as the supplies to complete it. This month’s pattern involved beading on a filigree, which is something I have been wanting to learn how to do. This one involved a lot of seed beads but was not as slow to finish as I expected. I have not shown the inside for intellectual property reasons (patterns are copyrighted). Potomac patterns are pretty good but the one thing I would change is that they need to take up more than one side of one page, sometimes. I had a hard time interpreting the directions for how to add the tassel to the filigree (in the end I just made something up) and I think a little more detail and an extra diagram or two might have helped with that.
1 Filigree Flower (42mm)
Here is the filigree for this month’s project. You may notice a few blocked holes. We will come back to that. Although the pattern gave a suggestion for how to deal with blocked holes, I tried something else, which ended up working even better.
1 Glass Cabochon (25 mm)
You will get a fair number of glass cabochons in this subscription so I am happy this month’s project used one, as now I have ideas for some of the others. This one was perfect for the monthly theme and also goes nicely with the items provided in terms of color choices.
3g Miyuki Seed Beads, 8/0
These were used in the pattern this month. I did not take them out of the plastic because (1) it is not fun to pick up seed beads and (2) the baggie isn’t resealable. I kind of don’t like these baggies, to be honest. It won’t stop me ordering from Potomac Beads, but I wish the containers were different. Anyway, Miyuki seed beads are nice and uniform in size and shape and great to use in patterns.
5g Miyuki Seed Beads, 11/0
Here are more seed beads used in the pattern. I like how these have a fancy AB-type finish but they’re shiny, while the size 8/0 beads are matte. I think it provides an interesting contrast when the pattern is worked up. I am also partial to this color, I think — there seems to be a lot of it in my stash.
3g Miyuki Seed Beads, 15/0
If I don’t like picking up size 8/0 seed beads, I *really* don’t like picking up size 15/0 seed beads. Anyway, this is a mustard color that I don’t work with often but it goes great with the tassel for the month as well as the colors in the cabochon. I think the three types of seed beads together make for just a lovely fall color scheme.
1 Silk Tassel
Potomac sends tassels every now and then. Like this one, they are nice, high-quality tassels. This one was used in the pattern this month but I might go back and pick up a few more because I don’t have many in silk in this size.
4 Silver-Plated Finch Charms
These are quite tiny. Of course, they’re wonderful for the theme. I can’t decide whether to use them in earrings or a bracelet but they’d be suitable for either. I always forget to look at Potomac Beads for charms and such but this subscription is helpful for reminding me.
1 Resin Laser Cut Disc (33mm)
Resin products are trendy right now, and new shapes are coming out all the time. This reminds me of focal components from the 1990s, only those were made from bone or sometimes gemstones (heavy and expensive) so it is nice to find affordable alternatives these days.
7g Czech Faceted Drops (7x10mm)
You’ll usually receive some fire-polished beads in this subscription, often in interesting shapes like these drops. These would be good in earrings or turned into charms for a bracelet (just use a headpin). You could probably find a seed bead earring pattern and use the rest of the Miyuki seed beads from this month and then use these as dangles as I think the colors would coordinate nicely.
3g Quadralentil Beads
This subscription usually has some shaped beads as well and this month we received these quadralentils. It is a bit challenging to find patterns for these, but they are out there if you go looking. Etsy has a few, for example.
4g Toho Demi Rounds
This is the first time we’ve received Toho beads in this subscription, I think. They are a competing company with Miyuki. Their demi rounds are half the thickness of a seed bead but otherwise the same dimensions. I’m pretty sure these are 11/0 demis, but you can also find them in 8/0 and 6/0. This may be one of the “higher metallic” finishes; I think they are quite pretty.
3g Pinch Beads
Here’s another type of shaped bead in a nice fall color (it may not be an exciting color for some people but it goes well with the color palette I tend to hoard). Here are a few free projects for pinch beads if you are looking for something to do with them.
2 Potomac Crystal Pear Drops
You’ll usually get some Potomac crystal in this subscription. This is a crystal stone and bead line exclusive to Potomac Beads. They are constantly coming out with new colors and shapes. I think I will make these into some statement earrings with a peyote stitch bezel around the outside.
6 Czech Glass Owl Beads
Here is another bird bead. At first, I didn’t think about how the little silver-plated charms and the owls fit the theme because these types of items make frequent appearances in this box, but as I write the review I totally see it now. I haven’t decided how I will use these yet but I have a lot of options because this is definitely a color I have a lot of in my stash.
Pewter Design Beads
Based on the rather generic name, the shape you receive may vary somewhat. Pewter, these days, refers to one of several lead-free alloys and is a popular jewelry component metal. These would be great spacer beads in any number of project types.
10g Czech Glass Round Beads (6mm)
These are basic but super useful. 6mm rounds can be used in strung designs and I have a lot of 6mm round gemstones they would go with, or you can use them in some patterns. I think this color is pretty and might look nice with some silver-tone findings.
20 Brass Spacers
There are a lot of design possibilities for these due to the large hole. You could string them on cord with other large-hole beads or just nestle them between round glass or gemstone beads on some silk or nylon cord. Luckily I have plenty of coordinating findings!
Here is this month’s project:
For the most part, I followed the directions in the pattern. One thing I did was instead of beading around the blocked holes, I dug this metal hole punch out and punched out the blocked holes. If you have one I definitely recommend doing that. The other thing I didn’t do from the pattern was follow the directions on how to attach the tassel because I had a hard time following them. I wasn’t sure about doing herringbone stitch for the band around the tassel but I saw that once it was on the tassel, it looked pretty good, actually (see next-to-last photo in the gallery). I used the exact thread recommended because I wasn’t sure how thick or strong it needed to be in case it rubbed on the filigree; other times, I use the first thread I grab.
Here is the finished piece (the cord was just something I had lying around within easy reach):
Verdict: I did not calculate a value for the PotomacBeads Best Bead Box since, although they do sell many of the items in their shop, they are not always in the same quantities. I thought this month was great. I love the fall color palette and I appreciated getting the chance to bead on a filigree, which is something I’ve been wanting to do. I liked the combination of a glass cabochon with the filigree. I like getting shaped beads to add to my stash, too!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you’ll most likely receive the October box.
Value Breakdown: At $25.99 per box, you are paying about $1.44 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 September 2020 PotomacBeads Best Bead Box? Do you subscribe to any beading or craft boxes?