By J. Shadé Quintanilla
A “committed” jewelry business run by mother-daughter duo Barbara Bucy and Colene Kane, Beaded Asylum is an Etsy shop filled with unique handmade beaded jewelry inspired by nature’s simple beauty.
The Monrovia-based business started about three years ago after Bucy took a bead embroidery class and convinced her daughter to learn the art. Since then, the two started the Beaded Asylum, dedicating their time towards crafting beautiful beaded embroidery and beaded jewelry. Even though the pair only recently started working on beaded embroidery within the last few years, the two have been putting together beaded creations ever since Kane was about three years old. The jewelry artisans both grew up on a Native American reservation in northern Minnesota where beading jewelry is a popular activity amongst women and children.
“We used to use porcupine quills, so I would cut off the tip and string the needle through the inside and we’d make jewelry out of them and bead everything like cigarette lighter covers,” Kane said.
The pair stays away from recreating Native American patterns in their jewelry since it is not a popular aesthetic with customers, but they do use a lot of found objects for their pieces, a technique many women on the reservation use to make beaded jewelry. For a piece that will soon be up for sale, Bucy created a large collar necklace made with seashells she found. For other beaded creations, the two often use different rocks Kane finds and collects, as well as other found objects.
Much of Beaded Asylum’s jewelry is made with organic material. When creating an embroidered cuff, necklace, or another piece, Bucy and Kane start with an organic object that inspires them, like a stone, and then they create from there: pulling colors, patterns, and designs from that material. With beaded jewelry ranging between $45 and $300, Beaded Asylum uses high-quality materials from reputable gem and jewelry suppliers, including freshwater pearls, genuine stones, gold and silver. In addition to using top-notch materials for their pieces, they spend hours crafting their one-of-a-kind beaded creations.
“Once we find something we like, we do it 1,000 percent and it’s kind of taken over everything else–all of our spare time and an extra room in our house,” Kane said.
In response to feedback from past customers, Bucy and Kane are now working on a few new pieces for their Etsy store, including more shoulder-duster earrings and metal chains with beaded embroidery. Although their earrings were a big hit at the Monrovia BossBabes Holiday Boutique last month, one of the challenges the business faces is reaching a customer base outside of the Monrovia and Duarte area. By creating more unique pieces and upping their social media strategy, they hope to sell to a greater Esty audience in the future.
Looking for a unique, beautiful gift for the holidays? Go to Beaded Asylum website at www.beadedasylum.com or visit their Etsy page at www.etsy.com/shop/BeadedAsylum to find the prefect present. A personal favorite is the all-black beaded cuff bracelet featured on the Etsy shop.