PotomacBeads Best Bead Box Review – December 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, 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 U.S. for free and worldwide for $4.99
PotomacBeads Best Bead Box December 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 “Alpine Lodge.” Please note, this box shipped on time but took 29 days to get to me. It comes from Maryland and it’s my understanding that USPS was particularly backed up in Maryland due to COVID-19 and the holiday shipping season.
On to the items:
1 Mont Blanc Necklace Pattern
You’ll receive a printed pattern every month, as well as the supplies to complete it. This was a very simple project and once I learned how to make the beaded “balls” I was pretty much good to go. I like the inclusion of the metal tubes as they are just a little different from the components you usually see in projects like this. (I don’t show the inside of the patterns for intellectual property reasons.) This one was well-suited to the usual 1-page format.
11g Sodalite Round Beads 6mm
Some of these were used in the necklace project this month, but I have plenty of them left over. Sodalite is a good stone for a winter-themed project because of the blue and white tones it includes. You’ll usually get a few gemstone beads in this subscription although they’re not a major focus.
7g Miyuki Seed Beads 11/0
You’ll typically get seed beads, most often in sizes needed to complete the pattern project. This is a color that’ll be useful in the future, too, as it’s pretty neutral and will match a lot of other colors
7g Miyuki Seed Beads 8/0
Here are more seed beads that were used in the project. I feel like we receive Miyuki beads more often although we have also received Toho beads in the past (the two brands are the same diameter but slightly different thicknesses). I have quite a few of these left over to deposit in my stash.
3g Miyuki Drops 3.4mm
This is another type of bead from Miyuki (they also make 2.8mm drops but these are the slightly larger ones). These were also used in the pattern. I don’t have so many left over but it’s enough for fringe on a pendant or to use in some earrings or added to a mix with similar colors.
7 Antique Brass Large Hole Tubes 3.5mm
These were also used in the necklace. I have two left over because I made mine to match the picture, but having a few extra means you could make your necklace a bit longer if you prefer. (There were a lot of opportunities to change the necklace length here and plenty of supplies provided to do so.)
1 Antique Brass Lobster Clasp
This is pretty basic and was used in the necklace. You hook it into a loop of beads, which is something I hadn’t seen before, but it makes more sense than threading a jump ring on beading thread (I have had a lot of beading thread slip out through the gap in jump rings, even if I close them nearly perfectly).
9g Czech Glass Drops 6x9mm
These are great for winter designs. I like to have a supply of drops around for earring dangles and things like that, and it’s good to get some white ones as I always go for the fancy colors and then end up with stuff that doesn’t always match.
1 Glass Cabochon 13x18mm
You’ll usually get a glass or resin item in this box; it’s nice that we also got a setting to put it in this month. You could go really minimalist with this and just put it on a chain, or add it to a beaded rope for a little more interest.
1 Silver Plated Cabochon Setting
This is just the right size for the cabochon. The bezel part is pretty short so I think this is meant to be a glue-in mounting. The silver plating seems good quality so far although if you’re not going to use it right away, you may want to store it with an anti-tarnish strip to keep it looking good.
1g Czech Glass Faceted Rounds 3mm
Firepolished rounds show up in this subscription quite often but they are used in almost every beading pattern out there (OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration…). I do not know if everyone gets the same colors or if there is some variation. But this color matches a lot of other beads in my collection so will be nice to have on hand.
2 Potomac Crystal Rivolis 12mm
Potomac Beads has their own line of crystals and they’re pretty good quality. There are some basics like these rivolis, and some more unusual shapes. I’ve been looking into Potomac Crystals more of late because of the announcement that Swarovski is going to stop selling beads and similar components next year. I have some glue-in earring settings that these will work well with.
5 Czech Glass Stars 12mm
I had quite the obsession with star-shaped beads back when I started beading so I have a lot of them, but I think not in this color and maybe also not in this size. I should do something with all of them together one day, I think that might be fun.
10g Antique Silver Large-Hole Spacers 6mm
Here are some more large-hole beads. I think these will look good with some large-hole gemstones on some leather or faux leather cord.
7g Spear Beads 5x9mm
You’ll usually receive one shaped or multi-hole bead for bead weaving each month. Spear beads are a Potomac exclusive product with 3 holes. I have some of these but not in white so these will be nice to have on hand.
4 Potomac Crystal Long Ovals in Settings 5x15mm
Potomac Beads has some patterns using crystals in settings on their website but you can also use them in rings and bracelets by putting wire through the sew-on holes instead of beading thread. So there are a lot of possibilities here. Also, I like this color a lot.
3g Miniduo Beads
Here is another “shaped” bead. Miniduos show up in a fair number of patterns and I’ve had some success using them instead of Preciosa Twin beads; they have a more regular shape, as well. This is an unusual color but I think it might look nice with some brighter oranges.
1 Pewter Toggle
Potomac Beads sells a full line of findings but sometimes I forget that. Although this subscription box usually serves to remind me! I would like to find some beading pattern that incorporates square elements to use this with, to tie everything together geometrically.
3g Miyuki Bugle Beads
I need to come up with some more uses for bugle beads because I have a lot of them. They don’t appear in many patterns but they do look nice in bead embroidery — just use some thick thread because they tend to have sharp edges. These are a pretty color.
10 Potomax Stormduo Beads
Potomax beads are metal and meant to be used as accents. They are available in a variety of popular and Potomac-exclusive bead shapes. I actually don’t know if I have any metal Stormduo beads already or not (but if not I guess I will be doing some online shopping soon). Potomac Beads sells some patterns that use Stormduos, or you can find some on Etsy, if you are looking for a project to do with these.
4g Czech Glass Dome Beads 14x8mm
Dome beads are great as central elements in patterns and offer a few more design possibilities than rivolis because, while you can form beaded bezels around them, they do also have a hole, whereas rivolis (and cabochons) don’t. This is a fairly neutral color that would look nice with some metallic beads, I think.
Here is this month’s project:
This was a pretty simple stringing project; the only complicated part was making sure to alternate between strands of all 11/0 beads and strands that included drop beads as well, and to manipulate it so everything rested properly to form the beaded ball shapes. I wasn’t really paying attention to the time but I’d say this took an hour or two to complete.
Here is the finished piece:
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. This was a representative month for this subscription, I would say. The patterns have been varied from month to month, but none have been too difficult to complete. The instructions for this one were definitely clear and fit well onto one page. There are a lot of possibilities for varying this pattern, such as different types of 6mm beads and different beads instead of drop beads (like rizos or magatamas). There were a lot of neutral colors this month that will go great with other items in my stash as well, and of course, I’m always happy getting 2-hole beads and there were several kinds this month.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you’ll most likely receive the January box.
Value Breakdown: At $25.99 per box, you are paying about $1.24 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 2020 PotomacBeads Best Bead Box? Do you subscribe to any beading or craft boxes?