The Bead Project

Introduction to the Bead Project:
The Bead Project is a unique scholarship program designed for economically disadvantaged women, femmes, and gender non-conforming individuals in New York City to learn the art of glass beadmaking while gaining an education in entrepreneurship. Over 10 weeks, scholarship recipients take part in both studio and classroom coursework where they develop skills in a variety of glass bead techniques, jewelry fabrication and design, product marketing, and practical strategies for launching a successful small business. Each semester, the Bead Project provides 12 participants with the time, tools, and support needed to pursue their creative ambitions and form actionable plans to turn a unique artform into a viable source of supplementary income. Along this creative journey, students form a community of peers with classmates, other Bead Project alumni, and UrbanGlass staff and artists that lasts far beyond the 10 week program. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to participate in the Bead Project?
The Bead Project was created specifically for women, femmes, and gender non-conforming individuals with demonstrable financial need, ages 18 and over, living within the New York City metro area. No previous art or glass experience required. Applicants should not be currently enrolled as a full-time student in an academic program.

Why is the Bead Project only for women and femmes?
Glassmaking is an historically male dominated field. This program was designed to specifically invite women and femmes into the studio within a community of peers. 

How often does the Bead Project run?
Each year we run spring and fall semesters of the Bead Project, with twelve students each semester. Semesters typically run from mid-March to mid-May and mid-September to mid-November. For exact dates, refer to the application.

When do classes meet?
There are ten class sessions. Fall classes are typically held on a weekend day and spring classes are typically held on a weekday. Additional self-scheduled studio time is expected to complete course requirements. 

Spring 2024 Classes: Wednesdays, March 13 - May 15: 12pm-4pm
Trunk Show: Wednesday, May 22: 3pm-7pm

I have never worked with glass before, can I apply?
Absolutely! The Bead Project is designed for students new to working with glass. We are looking for creatively-inclined individuals with interest in learning new processes. Anyone can learn to make glass beads with confidence, and through class you will develop your own style and direction. 

What will the Bead Project teach me? 
In the studio portion, you’ll learn the basics of glass beadmaking using a flameworking torch. Students learn about equipment and tools, safety procedures for working with hot glass, a brief history and survey of bead types and styles, and resources for purchasing glass and other beadmaking supplies. 

In the classroom portion, you’ll be introduced to professional development resources to aid in developing a plan to market and sell your work. This includes conversations about pricing, customer base, online sales, and more. 

How are glass beads made?
Glass beads are made in the flameworking studio using a torch. The flame of the torch is used to heat rods of colorful glass, and when the glass is molten it is wound around a stell mandrel to create a bead with a hole in its center that may be strung into beautiful jewelry or sculptural objects. You will be taught how to safely work in the studio with the flame of the torch. 

What is the history of the Bead Project?
The Bead project was founded in 1977 by Annette Rose-Shapiro, who saw the tradition of beadmaking and the economic opportunity of selling jewelry as great foundations for a program that could teach women skills for an additional source of income outside of the boundaries of the traditional work schedule. Read more here

I have submitted my application, now what happens?
We will review all applications after the application deadline (January 15th for Spring, and July 15th for Fall). You will hear back within 2 weeks about your acceptance. If you are not accepted into the program, you are welcome to reapply. 

What happens after the program ends?
Bead project alumni have access to several benefits, including rental discounts, scholarship opportunities, and specialized programming to encourage connectedness after the core program ends. 

Want to see more? Check out this documentary by BP Alum Beryl Benbow

Additional Questions? Please contact Alejandra at UrbanGlass, email or call: 718-625-3685 x244.

The Bead Project is generously supported by funders including The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York City Council, and TD Charitable Foundation.

This application will take 15-30 minutes to complete.

Applications due February 2nd!