Adventures in Bead Making

Anneliese Fox
7 min readSep 16, 2023
Four hand carved beads on the workbench. Photo by author.

Carving Beads from Wood

I’ve made beads in one form or another most of my life. The media changes over time, so do the purposes for the beads. I don’t generally make beads for the sake of making beads. I make them to incorporate into other projects.

I’ve made beads out of paper, polymer clay, stoneware, wood, glass, and other stuff I don’t remember. These days, it’s mostly wood and glass, mostly in support of my pottery projects.

I make large wooden beads for bell clangers, light pulls and zipper pulls. Most are made on the lathe although lately I’ve been hand carving a few. It’s been a humiliating experience involving blood in all the wrong places. (The reason for band-aids in the wood shop isn’t always about keeping the wound clean. It’s more about keeping the work blood-free.) My first hand-carved beads aren’t necessarily what you’d call pretty. Pretty is overrated. I aim for interesting. I sometimes miss the mark. Maybe more than sometimes.

Here are my lessons learned for hand carving beads:

Beads are functional.

Unlike a lot of other woodcarvings, beads get used for stuff. Designs should take this into consideration. If bits of the carving would fall off if the bead is knocked around, it doesn’t belong on the bead. Beads often take a lot of abuse. Simple, shallow…



Anneliese Fox

Writer of speculative fiction, programmer, artist in wood and clay, owner of Fox Computer Systems. My almost weekly blog follows what interests me at the moment