Beading workshops – to buy a kit or not buy a kit? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Beading workshops – to buy a kit or not buy a kit? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

29 June 2021 1

Let’s take a look at the dilemma of buying the kit or not and what you should consider before deciding.

Sometimes the kit will be mandatory

Sometime it will be optional

Sometimes there will be no kit offered.

Why is a kit listed as mandatory?

There may be components or certain beads that must be used or are hard to get hold of. The design may rely on very specific spacing of beads, or beads working together well. There may be lots of components needed.

The designer should have tested with the exact beads you are getting so they know it works using these beads. You and the designer can be happy knowing there should be minimal hiccups during the workshop if everyone has a kit.

Why is there no kit?

It may be that the requirements list is simple, and supplies easy to source. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what brand you use, or there is flexibility in the project to make it your own. Some tutors do not enjoy the process of making up kits, it’s quite a lot of work and they may also prefer you to create with your own colours so it’s unique.

There was no kit for this workshop as you could use up odds and ends for this piece

there was no kit for this workshop

Optional kits

This is where you get to make the decision about whether to buy a kit or not.
Having an optional kit puts the decision in your hands. Ask yourself these questions

Do you want to make it in one of the exact color ways listed? 

Do you understand what’s needed from the requirements list? Is it detailed enough?

Do you already have some of the items on the list?

Can you easily get the items before the workshop?

Are you good at putting colours together?

What do you think about the cost of the kit?

If something doesn’t quite work out during the workshop due to the beads you have chosen are you capable at adapting on the go?

Do you want to buy the kit to support the tutor?

For a recent workshop that I taught, I offered an optional kit, but most people bought the kit anyway.

A personal experience

I’m booked in to do two workshops with Cliff Swain-Salomon as part of the Melboure Bead Expo in July 2021.
I fell in love with his orchid flower way before it was offered as a workshop here and knew I was going to book in to that workshop.  I later also booked in to his earring workshop after watching the video he did describing it. Irresistible!

Neither of these had a mandatory kit, but a kit was on offer. What should I do? I always have at the back of my mind the need to support tutors by buying the kit, without good tutors we would be worse off in the beading world. In this case, I put that aside and looked at the other factors. 

The requirements list was essential, and I studied both in detail.

The Orchid

These ask for mostly size 15 seed beads but they had to be Miyuki brand. I looked at what I had, including what’s at the shop. What colours did I want? I didn’t have the colours that I thought would be great together, so I looked at what I could get and found some great colours. At that point I decided to not buy a kit but to order in a few more colors of Miyuki size 15. I added four pinks and a yellow and green and now they are available for you all to buy on the website too. I already had a Miyuki white, which I think I will use too. I feel more than ok to deal with any precise sizing issues during the workshop, but I feel with the beads I have chosen they will be quite uniform in size and I should be fine.


The earrings

Cylinder beads are the main bead in this project, and Toho Aikos are recommended. I don’t stock these and they are expensive, and I really didn’t want to invest in a new range at the shop, nor did I want to order just a few for myself. It did say Delicas would be ok, but not as good. I have plenty of Delicas though, and I can cull those slightly shorter beads you sometimes get. I then remembered I had some samples of Aikos, not many at all, and only three colours, but I have put them aside to see if I will use them on the day.

So my decision is made, I won’t buy the kits this time, I will use my own beads. However I do have access to an extensive selection of beads and I am experiences in knowing what beads work well together in what situation. I won’t get annoyed if it doesn’t work out during the workshop.

My suggestion as to what you should do depends on your experience. If you want an exact outcome, buy the kit, if you want to go your own way, know what that will mean for you.

What do you do? Buy the kit or not? What reasons?



  1. Lucille says

    I am still learning a great deal, I find that buying a Kit helps me further, once I have accomplished the Kit, I then go on and look at what I have a try one again using the colours and the beads I have. Being New to Beading I like buying a Kit for another reason the instructions are usually very clear and I keep learning.

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