Lee Wards Beaded Ornaments
Do you remember Lee Wards? It was the favorite place for
the crafter to shop back in the early 70s when I purchased
these kit ornaments. There was a huge display of
hundreds of different designs. All your materials came in a
little plastic bag containing the form, any medallions or
hardware pieces, ribbon, short pins, beads, sequins and
even a tiny bottle of craft glue was supplied. The bags
were stapled together at the top with a cardboard picture
of the completed ornament. Once you pried the cardboard
apart the detailed instructions were found on the inside
fold of the picture board.
The examples you see here were some of the less intricate,
less daunting designs. They took a lot of time and patience
to complete but here they are, over 30 years later, still
making a statement. I made at least a dozen but have lost
some over the years and still have a box of 3 or 4 that are
unfinished. Every year I swear that I will find all the lost
beads or adequate replacements and finish them, but it
hasn’t happened yet. The problem with beaded ornaments
is that the life span of the gold bugle beads used in many
of the designs turn brown over the years. I've bought gold
bugle beads since, and still they are particularly bad for
discoloring and turn in only a few years.
Lee Ward was based in Elgin, Ill. and sold its 101 stores to
Michaels Craft Stores back in 1994. I’ve been to Michaels
many times since and haven’t seen any similar kits offered,
so they must have been dropped in the buyout. Pity.
These kits cost 3 – 5 dollars back then depending on the
intricacies of the design and size of the ornaments.
Knowing my interest in beaded ornaments a friend of mine
brought me an old catalog from The Cracker Box Inc.
There is no comparison. The Cracker Box's beaded
ornaments are the most beautiful, singularly ornate things I
have ever seen… but I simply can not pay 30 to 75 dollars
for an ornament kit. If I could and got it put together, I
would never be able to find a place special enough to put it
on my tree so crowded with all my other ornaments… but
they sure are fun to look at.