Beaducation: cross-hobby post

Some time ago I created an account on Beaducation to check out a free video on perfecting wire spirals. The video was good; though my wire spirals still need help, they are improved. Recently, an old friend of mine, Barb Switzer, suggested that I might like to review one of her Beaducation classes. In exchange for a free class, I’m writing this review and linking to the website to help them promote their online video instruction. As a beginning beader who will take any help she can get, I jumped at the opportunity, and Barb pointed me at her “Beadily Dee Beads” class.
Beadily Dee Beads” are a “megabead” made out of small beads and wrapped wire. The wire is basket-woven to become end caps for the beads that are strung around a central core. Beaducation offers the class on making these beads as a 20 minute video plus a PDF instruction sheet. The video is broken up into chapters, which is helpful when you want to view a particular step in the process. This class requires fairly minimal materials: a 1mm mandrel, some 26 gauge wire, a dozen beads in two sizes, a few spacers, and a wire cutter. In my case I used a chunk of 18g wire to stand in as my mandrel, as I didn’t have the correct size mandrel. Having rattled through my beads to find suitable candidates, I sat down to watch the video.
I watched the video through once before attempting the bead. This was particularly necessary in my case because although the instructor warns that you should have some wire experience for the project, I have only a little bit.
Barb, the on-camera instructor, also warns that your first Beadily Dee bead won’t be a thing of beauty. That was certainly true of mine! But in general I found the class very easy to follow. The camera work was close enough to the action that I could follow what was happening step by step. When I needed to, I paused the video to catch up or redo what I had just done. If I couldn’t see quite well enough, I consulted the instruction sheet, which has very close-up diagrams of each step. After about a half an hour of work I had a bead. I didn’t do very well at the basketweave end caps, but it was easy to see where I went wrong.
The only place where the class format gave me a problem was the video player itself. I often had to wait for it to buffer, which made for a choppy viewing experience, even though I have a very fast broadband connection. I also made the mistake once or twice of hitting “stop” instead of “pause” — unfortunately this means you have to start the chapter over again from the beginning. Since the longest chapter is under 8 minutes, this isn’t as excruciating as it might be, but I certainly felt impatient to get to the bit I needed to see! In addition, I was confused by the materials list. The materials list is not broken out on the PDF. While a section of the video goes over the materials, when you are quickly trying to assemble everything you need for the class, you don’t really want to have to watch a video to do so. The materials list is also not available from the My Classes section of Beaducation. To find it, I had to search for Beadily Dee on the whole site. Once found, I had another surprise — the materials list on the page isn’t quite the same as in the video. The web page recommends having a chain nose pliers and nylon jaw pliers in addition to other tools. There’s nothing the matter with having these tools handy, but it was confusing to see the mismatch.
Overall, I did find the video class valuable. Though I like reading about projects and designs in magazines and books, it can be difficult to learn techniques from them: I need a human demonstrator. I’ve seen many free videos floating around the web, but the sound and camera work are often subpar, making them less than useful. The Beaducation videos seem of much higher quality than the amateur variety. I also appreciate that once purchased, the video can be watched again and again — very useful if you haven’t used a technique in a while and need to refresh your memory. For my next Beadily Dee bead I might start with just the instruction sheet and see if that’s enough to get me going, but I’m glad I can refer to the video if I need to.
If the Beadily Dee Bead class is anything to go by, Beaducation is offering some solid products. The class I took is normally $20 and is currently on sale for 20% off. I do recommend that you check out their class list and perhaps try one of their free classes on basic techniques to see how you like their approach. Classes include chain maille, wirework, seed bead techniques, metal work, and felted components, among other media. I will certainly be returning to Beaducation in the future to see what else is available.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lori Finney
    Jan 12, 2011 @ 19:56:59

    Interesting to see this review. I haven’t tried this bead project, but I did try another of Barb’s classes~the S curve bracelet, which is a beadwoven project.
    The written instructions for that one, from what I can ascertain from the video, are at least 50% completely incorrect. In order to complete my project I had to rewrite the instructions from viewing the video over and over, so in that particular case it was invaluable (the video, that is).
    I DO like their policy of making the purchased video available for an unspecified period of time; that is not always the case for these online classes, and I think it’s a necessity. If I want to make the project again in the future, I don’t expect to have to pay once again for a project I’ve already purchased once, and that is often the case on other sites.
    On the whole, while frustrated by the (mis)directions, I was pleased with the one I purchased as well, and since have purchased others~just not from this particular author.

    • tigerb
      Jan 12, 2011 @ 20:07:54

      Wow, that’s really odd. I mean, theoretically the instructor would be writing her own script and her own instructions for the project? So how could they not match? Doesn’t really make much sense, does it.

      Yes, I was pleased to see that repeat-viewing policy. I suppose one day it will be the norm to sell someone a downloadable video they could burn on a DVD, but for now, this arrangement is pretty good.

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