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Friday, August 29, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 84.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Free to bead
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Let's be honest. Arts and crafts were never your cup of (loose, organic) tea. After the closing of the adorably user-friendly Jade Mountain Beads on East Johnson Street, what was a girl to do with her busy hands? Scrapbooks are for the Martha Stewart set, and since you never did finish that how-to-knit book, the scarf for the boyfriend is a gnarled 10 feet long and counting.

Luckily for your crafty side, and for the survival of your inner Girl Scout, one of the primary creative forces behind Jade Mountain is back in business. Sarah Vestlie opened Indus Beads less than a month ago, and the similarities between the newest addition to the Willy Street retail renaissance and the old digs on Johnson are striking - right down to the custom-made table with 275 bead bowls that the owner of Jade Mountain bequeathed.

That's not to say, however, that Indus Beads lacks originality. To the contrary, Vestlie's boutique thrives on its idiosyncrasies. Not only is there an entire nook devoted to Just Coffee products and handmade Peruvian belts and hats ($16-$25), there are also literally hundreds of beads to choose from, including some oblong jasper/bloodstone/moss combos ($8.95 each) that were striking even before being strung.

But if you're like me - short on time and even shorter on patience - forgo the jewelry-making process and dive right into the jewelry-buying process. I loved the chunky, asymmetrical Chinese turquoise necklace ($45) as well as an apple coral choker ($23), but Jiminy "checking account balance" Cricket guided me toward the elastic dice bracelet ($4.30) instead. More experienced folks will gravitate toward the weekly class offerings, but they're made for 'tweens on up, so even us novices are welcome to give it a try.

Indus Beads
1148 Williamson St.,
608-251-2323
Noon-4 Sun., 10 am-6 pm Mon.-Fri., 10 am-5 pm Sat.

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