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City Desk

Uptown shop venerates the bead


by Jim Larson (ButteNews.Net) December 12, 2013

She’s keeping it fun and funky in Uptown Butte.

For ten years Pam Neeley operated her beading business in the basement of her home on West Missoula, but now she has emerged, in a burst of color, onto West Park Street. She’s in the Phoenix Building near Wein’s Men’s Store at 66 West Park Street.

Neeley had been talking about opening the shop for awhile, but the time had come to do it or shut up, and “so I’m doing it,” she said.    

Her shop is divided into two parts. She calls the large kitchen table that sits at one end of the store “production.” With a broad wave of her arm she declares the rest of shop “stuff.”

Neeley owns Neeley Designs Bead & Jewelry Studio, but her official title is “Creative Mistress.” For her, it’s not just a shop, and her craft is more than a hobby. “It’s my calling, I was born to be a bead stringer,” she said.

As a child she beaded necklaces using apple and watermelon seeds. Now her designs are in gift shops in places like Oklahoma City and Cape Canaveral, and when she uses the term “production,” she means it. Neeley makes 10,000 pairs of earrings every year, she said. According to the State of Montana’s “Made in Montana” website, Innovative Marketing of Miles City distributes Neeley’s jewelry. Neeley notes that “Miles City ships my stuff all over the country.” She’s been part of the Made in Montana program “for years,” she said.


Neeley says that her business has grown “organically,” and she credits her success with being able to do what she was born to do. “If it’s your true calling, it’s gonna work out. I’m tickled. I’m just grateful that I get to do what I want to do,” she said. Remarkably, though, once Neeley makes something, she moves on. She is no longer attached to an item once it’s made, she said.

Neeley says that she won’t hold classes at her shop. She works in the “oral tradition,” she says. “If someone wants to know something, we’ll do it right there at the table,” she adds. She doesn’t like people who act as if the craft is a “trade secret.” “I must respect the bead,” she explains.

Neeley wants her shop to be a beading center where all people can come, and in that vein she plans to have a “bead in” for the upcoming Christmas stroll. Beading materials will be provided for free, but you have to make the item at the shop, “cause I’ll probably want to take a picture of it,” Neeley said.

Neeley can be contacted at (406) 723-2330. Her shop hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.


0 #1 Lynn Schachtschneide 2017-01-04 16:52
Pam, I have tried calling you in the past; with no success. Wanted more of your ear/rings for the gift shop at the museum here in PBurg. Hoping you'll be at the trade show in Helena. I always love your jewelry. Lynn Schachtschneide r

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