Sara Beck creates beauty, one bead at a time

ESCANABA – Watching Sara Beck work with an assortment of tiny seed beads pinched between her thumb and index finger almost makes the viewer want to squint with eye strain. But for the bead crafter, it’s just another type of bead she regularly uses to ply her craft when she creates her jewelry and other unique beadwork.

Samples of her necklaces, bracelets, earrings, ankle bracelets and other jewelry will be displayed for sale at the Waterfront Art Festival in Ludington Park on Saturday.

Beck said Saturday’s festival is perhaps her eighth time as an exhibitor and she has found, interestingly enough, her best sellers have varied over the years.

“One year it might be necklaces and the next year something else,” she said. “One year it was ankle bracelets.”

A native of Escanaba, Beck graduated from Escanaba High School in 1981. In addition to her job at Nyman Jewelers, Beck teaches private voice lessons. Using her musical talents, she has appeared in a number of Players de Noc productions, mostly musicals.

Beck said she began doing beadwork about 20 years ago. She became interested in beading after the Woerpels established Noc Bay Trading Company which specializes in Native American craft supplies.

“At first it was mostly for myself but later, when the Wiffletree sold women’s clothing, I would make accessories,” Beck said. Throughout the years, Beck has perfected her craft, mostly through self-teaching and with the help of catalogues and instructional books. Her major focus is on crafting necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

In her early years of creating beadwork, Beck said her designs were “plain and small.” But in recent years, she has turned her focus to experimenting with bigger pieces and using polished stones in her designs.

Beck isn’t certain which types of beading are the most difficult, but said “just deciding what to make” is by far her biggest challenge.

Putting a price on her creations when she attends a craft show or fair is another decision Beck must face.

“I try to keep track of the materials I use and what they cost and try to at least make a little profit,” she explained. “But fortunately this isn’t my livelihood – it’s just a hobby – so what I don’t sell, I keep.”

Beck has found that exhibiting at the Waterfront has another plus. “It’s definitely a busy place and it’s nice to see people that I know and meet new people,” she said.

The Waterfront isn’t the only show in which Beck has plied her wares. She also exhibits at the Village Artisans in Garden and other venues throughout the area.

“I think in the early years, people were coming and looking for some particular things, but now, I think most people are just browsing,” she said. She once had the experience of selling a necklace to a woman who later called her and requested a matching bracelet and earrings.

Although selling her products is a positive thing when Beck exhibits, she has other goals as well.

“It’s a challenge to come with a ‘best in show’ and that’s something I would like to do so I tell myself I have to get out of my rut and do something that’s different,” she said.

Although she takes pride in her craft, Beck is realistic in the fact that she will never have a “perfect” creation.

“I’ve been doing this so long and I want to make sure everything is as uniform as possible and neat,” she said. “But only God makes perfections so I guess I’m okay.”