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, 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 November 2020 Review
I am getting to know what to expect with this box 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 "La Belle Epoque."
On to the items:
1 Moonlight Sonata Bracelet Pattern
You'll get one printed pattern each month with this version of the subscription. (I haven't shown the inside for intellectual property reasons.) You'll also get the beads and findings needed to complete the project (you will have to supply a needle and thread). This pattern was easy to follow, especially using the photo on the front for reference. You will need to make yours a little longer than your typical bracelet length because the crescent bead sections push the bracelet out a bit from your wrist. It's very useful to hold the partially-completed piece up to your wrist to see if you'll easily be able to clasp it or not.
1 Claspgarten Pearl Clasp
This said "pearl" clasp but mine has a rhinestone or crystal. Oh well, it is still pretty, especially with the rhodium plating. Claspgarten clasps are lovely but can be quite expensive ($4-$20 or more) so it is nice to have one to try out to see how you like it.
5g Toho Seed Beads, 15/0
The bracelet pattern called for seed beads in size 15/0 and they were provided for us. I gather that Toho and Miyuki seed beads are not always interchangeable due to different thicknesses, so if you try to recreate the pattern using Miyuki beads you may have to use a different number in some sections. But it worked great with these Toho beads and I still have plenty left over for other things. (I don't take these out of the package for pictures because I don't want to pick them all up off the mat later, and also because the baggies aren't resealable.)
3g Crescent Beads
I love 2-hole beads and I have always kind of liked the beaded beads made from crescents (examples in this month's project). I also happen to have a rather large number of crescents in different colors. So this month's pattern has given me some ideas. Anyway, these are a lovely blue color, and this coating/finish allowed for most of the holes to be unblocked (that is something you should check for with 2-hole beads).
6g Czech Bicones, 5mm
These were used in the pattern but you could probably substitute firepolished rounds or crystals if you wanted (both are available in 5mm stringing lengths, just a bit harder to find). These were used in the pattern and there were more than enough to complete even a longer bracelet. I think the splash metal-tone finish on these is fun.
1g Silver Plated Wire Protectors
A few wire protectors were in the clasp baggie but this separate bag was also in the package. These were used in the pattern (I mean, like, more than just two connecting the clasp). I first learned of using these in bead woven patterns in the Potomac Beads Best Bead Box subscription (instead of jump rings, which have a habit of sliding off thread) and they're quite handy for that. I still have a few left overs, too.
7g Czech Faceted Rondelles, 3x5mm
This month's pattern also used these rondelles, but there were way more rondelles than needed for the pattern. However, these would be great spacer beads in strung projects, or could be used to make the pattern again with beads from your stash.
6 Pewter Bow Beads
Although this wasn't an overtly Christmasy box, there were a few items that are suitable for use in holiday-themed jewelry, including these pewter (a lead-free alloy) bows. I most often see these in earrings with crystal cubes, where the cubes represent a wrapped gift.
10g Czech Angel Wings
These can be used with cone or drop-shaped beads and round beads to make little angels, or could be used in geometric pieces as well. This frosted color seems especially useful for winter-themed designs.
4g Jade Faceted Rondelles, 3x4mm
These are not jadeite or nephrite (i.e., the two minerals that are considered actual jade) but are probably "Malaysia jade," a trade name for a translucent quartz (chalcedony) that is dyed a lot of different colors to mimic the look of other gemstones at a fraction of the cost. Whenever you see red or blue or purple gemstones called "jade" they are probably Malaysia jade (one exception is white jade, which is a true nephrite jade). Nothing wrong with using that, it can be quite lovely in many designs, but make sure you test for colorfastness and represent it honestly to customers if you sell your designs.
1 Fabric Covered Cabochon, 20mm
This says it is 20mm but it is about the same size as the rivolis (see below) and Potomac sells 15mm fabric covered cabochons on their website, so the 20mm is probably a typo and this is most likely 15mm. Anyway, I have thought about making fabric cabochons and/or fabric-covered buttons before and even bought some supplies to do so, but this is even easier because it comes pre-made. The fabric pattern is a good scale for a small button; there aren't any designs that are too big for the provided surface.
2 Resin Rivolis, 14mm
I was interested in these, too, I've never seen resin rivolis before. I would've ordered more to play around with, but this was the only color on the Potomac site. Maybe they will be getting more in the future. These would be good in a lightweight earring pattern.
2 Carrier Beads, 9x17mm
I'm not sure what to do with only 2 carrier beads but chances are I have similar or coordinating colors already in my stash. Typically one makes a design with Miyuki Delicas (Toho Treasures or Toho Aikos would also work, basically any cylinder seed bead) and fits it over the carrier beads (hence the name) and then strings some of them together to make a bracelet or necklace. I guess this is a good excuse to go looking for patterns and project ideas.
1 Resin Vintage Drop
This would be great as a hanging pendant drop in an Art Nouveau style necklace. It's lightweight but intricately-detailed. I am appreciating resin beads and components more these days; there's quite a lot that you can do with them and they don't cost much, nor are they easily breakable.
5g Miyuki Seed Beads, 11/0
Here are some more seed beads that nicely match the overall color theme for the month. I think they have a pretty iridescent finish. As to whether or not I have a color like this in my collection, I couldn't say, but you'd understand why if you saw the size of my collection (I have literally hundreds of colors of 11/0 seed beads and yet, it is still sometimes difficult to find the perfect color for a pattern, so I am always happy to receive more).
2 Pewter Bails
There are a lot of pendant patterns out there that use small numbers of shaped beads (Ginko, WibeDuo, or others) and at the end of making them, you'd really like a nicer way to hang them than just a jump ring on a chain. These bails should be useful for projects like that, you can connect them to your pendant and then use a nice cord or piece of silk ribbon, and they'll also keep your design from turning around when you wear it!
8g Czech Faceted Rounds, 6mm
I don't know if different colors were possible, but I got alexandrite, which always makes me kind of happy. Alexandrite glass has a little bit of the rare earth element neodymium in it and appears to be different colors under natural and fluorescent light. (It was named after the gem, alexandrite, which is different colors under daylight and incandescent light.) I've tried to show you by carrying the beads around to a window and under a lamp in the second two pictures. 6mm firepolished round are just generally good to have around for patterns and stringing projects. (The blue is under a fluorescent light and the purple is in a window.)
Here is this month's project:
I don't have a lot to say about this, it was pretty easy to follow. I used a 4 lb test Fireline and a size 12 Tulip beading needle because there were a lot of 15/0 seed beads in the project, and I think that was the right choice. (Those also happen to be my standby needle and thread choices for most projects.) I used the "crystal" color because of the seed bead color, and I also think that was a good idea. The only change I might make is that in order to add length to the bracelet you had to add one bicone unit and one crescent unit to the bracelet, and that made the finished piece somewhat too long for me. If there was a way to add just one unit instead of both, or a way to slightly lengthen or shorten the overall piece, that would be nice. (In fairness, I have tiny wrists for an adult and I often run into this issue.)
Here is the finished piece:
(Sorry, I worked on this in an afternoon and over the course of time, the lighting in the room changed rather dramatically as it got dark outside, so the lighting in these images is a little odd.)
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 the color coordination this month was excellent, and the pattern was easy to understand and follow. I am more interested in what can be done with resin these days (instead of just writing it off as "plastic") so receiving some resin items was fun. I am also intrigued by the fabric cabochons and hope more of those get added to the Potomac Beads website in the next few months.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you'll most likely receive the December box.
Value Breakdown: At $25.99 per box, you are paying about $1.52 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 October 2020 PotomacBeads Best Bead Box? Do you subscribe to any beading or craft boxes?