Meet Cath Thomas: Beading for Happiness and Health

Cath ThomasCath Thomas joins us from Switzerland, where she lives with her husband and a delightful menagerie of birds and fish, mainly finches and goldfish.

Cath’s beading blends timeless style with playfulness. Evident in her designs, the playfulness further displays itself in her love of rainbow colourations – from magenta to tanzanite and everything pink and purple and in between. She is especially fond of yellow these days for its ability to add a happy vibe.

Photo: Cath is holding The Beadworkers Guild “Founder’s Award” 2023


“Eddie,” Beading Muse Extraordinaire

Cath’s beading process begins with her muse, “Eddie,” who dreams up beady possibilities. And Eddie is not only a superbly creative muse, but also rather unrelenting, keeping her busy-busy with new jewellery designs, 3D and sculptural pieces, as well as developing a stitch’s possibilities. “The muse is as frantic as ever,” Cath shared, “I just cannot do everything that they want. Also, I really must fall in love with the idea to take it from an empty mat to completion.”

She added, “My muse and I have wanted a beaded polar bear for so long. I am crazy in love with my ‘Polar Project.’ The difficulty of this piece was beyond my expectations, but the solutions that I had to find to make it work and the selection of stitches used make it a festival of beadweaving on its own. It was a huge endeavour, and I am extremely proud of it. The result exceeds, by far, my initial plans.”

Photos: Nanuq, Natsiq, Ugpiq  Ukaliq (aka Polar Project), Founder’s Award Winner, BWG 2023

Polar Project


A Flourishing Beading Life

With work widely published in magazines and many award-winning designs – most recently awarded the Beadworkers Guild Founders Award for her “Polar Project,” featured above – Cath also hosts two beading groups on FB: Cellini Peyote Freaks (stitch-based, with more than 11,000 worldwide members), and From Petal to Pod (a smaller group focussing on her peyote petal shape). Check them out! Cath loves to work with stitches that can morph and transform, a definition that these two bead weaving stitches surely fit.

Introduced to beads at 14 by her mom’s art therapist friend, and later stumbling upon bead weaving techniques, Cath’s evolution in beading continues to centre around 3D/sculptural, geometric and Cellini work, with occasional experiments with other techniques to learn more and fuel the passion (“because stepping back from favourite techniques allows to make progress and become more inventive”). Her inspirations come from anything and anyone, and she feels the inspiration viscerally, like the vibration of a string instrument…and of course Eddie chimes in with their ideas!

Cath is truly a beading polymath – she designs, creates beading tutorials, hosts FB groups, and has had her work published, for example:

  • Her first publication, under the title “Peaking Pearls” in Bead & Button’s publication, “The Beader’s Handbook” (2009), featuring her 2006 Fire Mountain Gems & Beads Contest Grand Gold prize winning design, “Roma”;
  • with Gerlinde Lenz, she wrote and illustrated a book featuring a new stitch devised by Gerlinde; titled Diamond Weave, it’s available on Cath’s website,;
  • Cath’s work is featured in 500 Beadwork, Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Vol.1 & 2;
  • and her designs earned numerous features in the Journal of the Beadworkers Guild, Bead & Jewellery magazine, and in the past, Perlen Poesie, Bead and Button, and Beadwork magazines.

Photos: from the left, IBW Ribbon, Artemiss, Roma

IBW RibbonArtemissRoma

Cath shared that Geometric Peyote is her favourite stitch because of its spatial properties and morphing possibilities. “I love playing with it endlessly,” she said.  “From Petal to Pod FB group was created with that in mind. I knew that the petals were an incredibly versatile shape, and that I would never be able to come up with the many possibilities it offered, so I gave the technique to the beading community to see what would happen. I love the swirly look of Cellini Peyote and, again, how one shape can morph into another shape when I manipulate it. In short: I manipulate beadwork to see what else I can make with it.”

 Photo: Octavio the Octopus

Octavio the Octopus


More Beading Tidbits

I love the sound of Cath’s beading space: “A chair, a window, a foot rest that serves often as bead tray rest, a computer to stay in touch with other beaders, lots of beading trays in a cabinet, and of course plenty of tubes with plenty of beads.” Perfection! (…and then there’s the issue of beadwork trying to invade the living room, something we are likely all familiar with, a “happy, beading mess” as she put it!)

Cath’s favourite beading needles are Miyuki, which she describes as “not too hard, not too soft.” A noteworthy tip: “I file the point to not sting myself too easily.” And her go-to beading threads include KO thread (BTW, it’s my favourite as well – strong, not prone to tangles, and thin enough to go through even 15/0s several times!), as well as KastKing Superpower Braid.

Cath uses a variety of stitches, mainly Peyote, Cellini Peyote, Herringbone, CRAW and MRAW, but also two of the newer stitches: the Hubble, designed by Melanie de Miguel, and DW (the Diamond Weave, mentioned above).

Photo: Bolas Canastas

Boas Canastas

Cath’s Designs & Tips for Success

As a designer, she encourages those of us who might harbour a secret wish to design. “Don’t wait another minute,” she says, “because your inner voice is more important than any other voice.”

For those of use who have no designer vibes, but who enjoy following patterns to share or sell our work, Cath advises us to follow the 3Gs:

  • use the Good stuff – choose beads with finishes that will last;
  • be sure to Gather information about what type of metal findings to use (lead, cadmium and nickel are not allowed in many countries); and,
  • do make the effort to Go that extra mile.

Where to Find Cath Thomas

I hope that Cath Thomas’s deep dive into Peyote’s possibilities and openness to exploring new stitches has you eager to expand your own beading repertoire. Next month’s blog will dive into Cellini Peyote in its spiral and flat forms.

See you next month! Bead safe! ~ Cathy

Photos from left: Mr. Puddlepond, Winter Snail, and Spindle Berries

Mr PuddlepondWinter SnailSpindle Berries

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