A Place to Bead

Jul 9, 2017

Christina Rizzo has been a “bead” enthusiast since she was a teenager and after working in a shop for years, absorbing all she could learn, she had the opportunity to open her own business. A Place to Bead may be found in the 2-block smorgasbord of shops found on Mission Street in San Marino. It sits between a humble barber shop and an upper end women and children’s clothing store named Lady Bird. You can’t miss the “B-E-A-D-S” vertically stuck to the front picture window.

A Place to Bead has racks and racks of bottled beads, raw necklaces (waiting for an artistic hand), and a dark wooden showcase featuring products made by Rizzo and various bead artists. A brightly, naturally lit back room has three almost-room-width-wide tables with tray upon tray upon tray of colored beads. Beads that are gemstone, clay, wood, shell, freshwater and glass pearls; new and vintage, American and imported; and in every hue, patina, shape and design.

Be prepared for standing and lingering. Might we suggest a shot of espresso before your arrival—or a DYI energy booster of lemon, honey, and cayenne pepper—because Rizzo has countless beads to peruse. Even visiting, we stayed much longer than planned as one more tray caught our attention, or one more engaging pattern or dynamic color lured us into temptation.




A Place to Bead is keen to assist bead enthusiasts. Classes are offered almost every day of the week and on a variety of basics: wire linking, wire wrapping, bead knotting, and how to make earrings. Workshops beyond the basics include making torch-fired enameled earrings, art clay silver, braided bead ropes, and your own creative earwires.

On July 15, Liz Smith leads a 7 hour workshop on creating a long necklace out of crystals and seeds with a front clasp and dangles.



During the month of July, A Place to Bead offers a free earring pattern, featuring “two-holed Tila beads”—just come on in and ask for the pattern. If help is needed to finish a project or you just want to bead in the company of others, “open beading” sessions are scheduled for July 29 and 30.

Once the “Intro to Art Clay” class is completed, consider one of many metal art clay workshops led by Despina Buoncristiani: make post earrings out of fine silver metal clay and solder posts to the back, or learn how to work with tubular beads, including adding texture and paste, safely punching holes, and decorating with a syringe. Other workshops teach how to make hollow form lentil beads, create a toggle closure, make pendants and pins, and how to etch, rivet, and texture metal.



Workshops last from three hours to seven hours, and are held Tuesday through Sunday. All materials are included (unless otherwise noted) and prices range from $38 for Bead Knotting Basics and $45 for the make-your-own-unique earwire class to $139 for the 7 hour “Intro to Art Clay” workshop.



Summer Workshops:
July 25: Making Ends Meet
July 26: Braids & Beads
July 27: Bead Knotting Basics
July 29 & 30: Open Beading Days


Cute As a Button Earrings Workshop; photo courtesy of A Place to Bead.


August 1: Wire Linking Basics
August 2: Metal Art Clay – Flat & Fabulous Ring
August 3: Sgraffito Torch Enameled Earrings
August 5: Metal Art Clay – Asian Interlude Pendant
August 6: Intro to Art Clay
August 8: Waterfall Mixed Metal Etched Pendant
August 9: Metal Clay Quickie
August 12: Alcohol Ink Components
August 16: Earring Basics
August 19 & 20: Open Beading Days
August 22: Metal Art Clay – Contemporary Bar Pin Ensemble
August 23: Bead Knotting Basics
August 24: Metal Art Clay – Bodacious Bead Caps
August 29: Metal Art Clay – Let’s Get Tubular
August 30: Tassel Fancy
August 31: Metal Art Clay – It’s Raining Bails, Allelujah!
August 31: Metal Art Clay – Pick Up Sticks Earrings

For complete details of summer workshops, visit



A Place to Bead, 2566 Mission St., San Marino 91108. Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Monday, closed. Ph: 1.626.219.6633.







Pearls; photo by A Place to Bead.


Curious as to why there is such a big difference in price between freshwater and saltwater pearls? Remember that saltwater pearls form in oysters, and require a bead nucleus to start the pearl culturing process. There is a bit more to the story than that, but the key thing is that only one pearl is cultured at a time. The insertion of the bead nucleus is like a surgical procedure, and some oysters don’t take it very well and don’t survive the process. This adds to the cost of saltwater pearls.
Freshwater pearls are cultured in mussels, and since no bead nucleus is needed, only a small piece of tissue from another mussel, up to 50 pearls can be cultured at a time in a single mussel! This is like bulk packaging, so the cost savings is passed down to the end user.
—A Place to Bead


Crinkly freshwater pearls; photo by A Place to Bead.






Other shops in this block of Mission Street in San Marino:

The newly opened San Marino Café & Marketplace



Women’s and children’s clothing at Ladybird, a Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store, 2556 Mission Street. Ph: 1.626.441.4550.




And, in case you’re shopping and your man needs a quick cut…






Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena