Sarah Beardslee, owner of Beads by Beardslee, connects a silver-plated infinity link necklace. (Marianne Salza)

Getting a bead on Medford

MEDFORD -- By an open window in Sarah Beardslee’s home studio, the jewelry designer connected the silver-plated links of an infinity necklace. For nearly a decade the owner of Beads by Beardslee has been making handcrafted jewelry and beaded gifts with her daughter, Kayla.

"We’ve had so much fun doing this together," said Beardslee, who enjoys attending bead shows with her daughter. "It’s special having a business with a family member."

When Kayla was in third grade, she loved a jewelry making class that she was enrolled in so much that she wanted her mother to join in on her fun and learn together. Nine years and a career change later, the former children’s bookseller has developed a growing business.

"Our techniques have improved and changed over time," Beardslee explained. "It’s evolved. We have silver, gold-plated, and sterling beads. We also bead with different stitches. It’s fun."

The ladies began with basic stringing onto wire, and have refined their skills to create a variety of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and even beaded embroidery, like the decorative designs on Kayla’s Bat Mitzvah prayer shawl.

"It’s an eclectic hodgepodge of things," said Beardslee. "I have things I’ve done with peyote stitch. It’s been around for thousands of years. I’ve done chainmail, which goes back to ancient times and was used for armor. A lot of historical techniques had a renaissance and are being used now in other ways."

Beardslee likes sharing design ideas with her daughter and sitting across the table from one another, embarking on earring-making extravaganzas.

"I love creating all of it," said Beardslee, who is also the President of the Medford Arts Center. "I love exploring and learning new things. It makes life more interesting."

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