“The fact that I’m turning 75 makes me want to speed up!”
Hull — Jumping into an “encore” career back in 1993, Priscilla Beadle was ahead of her time. Not only did she leave the established corporate world that had sustained her for 23 years, she pulled up roots from her California home, accompanied her husband on his job assignment to Hong Kong, and began a new career. All this while celebrating her 50th birthday, and she’s never looked back.
Once settled in Asia, Beadle’s creative muse beckoned from the exotic bazaars of Tibet and Nepal, in dusty shops in Beijing, on remote Indonesian islands reached by catamaran, in beautiful Bali, and in verdant Indochina—Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
She found herself immediately and undeniably attracted to the colorful, eclectic and beautiful beads the markets offered up, and soon began hand crafting these new-found treasures. With the creation of whimsical, playful, bold and powerful pieces of one-of-a-kind jewelry, her business, Beadleful, was born. Her signature style begins with a prominent centerpiece bead, complemented on either side with colorful, textured, and chunky beads, finished with a fabulous clasp.
Shopping Global Markets
Over the years, Beadle found herself trekking the word seeking out raw materials for her creative outlet, selecting sustainable materials from nature to satisfy her desire to create with environmental awareness. Some of her pendants include petrified wood, beetle wings, paua shell, and mother of pearl (nacre). Some beads are made of amber, Philippine seashells, cork, apricot shells, tagua nuts, and cultured pearls.
From several trips to Venice, Italy, Beadle has collected an assortment of the finest glass beads in the world; those made on the island of Murano, home of the Venetian glass industry since the 1300s.
Whether traveling the world or stalking quaint New England shops and galleries, successful bead hunting in-spires the bold and eclectic designs that characterize Beadle’s unique necklaces and bracelets.
During her life-changing stint in Hong Kong, she not only discovered beading, but acquired a very large, vintage apothecary chest, that has followed her from Hong Kong, back to California, and now to her hometown of Hull, where she has maintained her studio since 2011 (cover photo depicts Beadle standing next to her apothecary chest). The wall-sized piece boasts 52 square drawers and has been the repository for her extensive bead collection for decades.
Year-Long Birthday Challenge
It’s been a while since Priscilla Beadle took the leap at age 50 to reinvent herself, but challenge has always excited and energize her. Inspired by a friend who was fascinated by the apothecary chest in her studio, Beadle decided to create a one-of-a-kind beaded necklace each week in 2017. Each neck-piece originates from a different drawer. “I consider this an adventure fantasy trip,” enthuses Beadle. “Do I think about slowing down for 75? Do I think about maintaining? Or shouldn’t I speed up for a year?” she laughs. “The fact I’m turning 75 makes me want to speed up!”
An English major in college, Beadle has lived her life by Robert Browning’s line, “…a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,/ Or what’s a heaven for?” This quote is the driving force behind all Beadle’s difficult and exciting endeavors. “It gives me permission to push myself,” she says. For her, this challenge is self-motivating as it produces a real accomplishment each week. “Sometimes you just have to push yourself to grow, stretch, and do things for yourself,” throughout the year.
Her 52-drawer apothecary chest dominates her studio, standing more than seven feet tall, four feet wide, with each drawer going 16 inches back.
“I’ve started in the upper left corner drawer and am working my way through every drawer, from left to right, top to bottom,” confides Beadle. She uses the chest to organize her vast collection of beads based on color and material. The first necklace of the year was drawn from Venetian glass beads which have been divided into silver/gold, blue/green, and red/orange groups. The second drawer has different color Venetian glass; black/white; purple/yellow; and multi-colored. The last drawer of the year contains faux amber resin beads from Indonesia.
Beadle keeps clasps and centerpieces in a special cabinet, not in the drawers. Center pendants can be made of glass, jade, silver, brooches, semi-precious gems, and oddities such as extraordinary buttons or other upcycled adornments.
Although her designs have been worn to the Academy Awards and her talents have been cited by The New York Times, the relationships with customers who visit her studio to shop for treasures are most satisfying. She is “thrilled” to see her necklaces being worn around town.
Her creations are very special, yet her pricing remains affordable. Beadle’s artistic muse is never silent long, as she is inspired to create in her studio every day.
You can follow her “one necklace a week design” 2017 challenge via her website blog: https://priscillabeadle.com. You’ll find photos of her work (including a gallery of necklaces), full descriptions of the beads and materials used, a schedule of her Open Studio dates, recent publicity, and of course, Beadle’s charming commentary on the artistic life.
Cover story, reprinted from the South Shore Senior News, February 2017