Master’s Gathering: "Lockets, Boxes, Doors & Windows”

with Cynthia Rutledge

September 26 - October 1, 2024

La Conner, Washington

We had our first "Master's Gathering" in October 2023 in La Conner, Washington. It was all about using beadweaving to design and create your favorite flower. The group had such a fabulous time, they drafted Cynthia into again doing a retreat in 2024!

This isn't your typical bead retreat. No kit; no step-by-step instructions. It's about designing and applying the bead techniques you know to get the result you want. You'll be led in this process by internationally acclaimed designer and teacher Cynthia Rutledge who will individually work with you on your design and creative process.

The retreat will take place outside of Seattle, WA in the charming waterfront town of La Conner. Our Inn is conveniently located to give easy access to lots of eateries (including the very popular scones bakery!), vintage shopping, and local artisans.


Day 1. Thursday, September 26. Arrive.
La Conner is 70 miles from Seattle and half-way to Vancouver, B.C. Like many small towns, it is a little off the beaten path – but absolutely worth the short drive through the gorgeous Skagit Valley. Upon arrival you’ll settle into your room at the La Conner County Inn (check in time is 4 p.m.) which is located downtown next to the Swinomish Channel. If you arrive early, take the opportunity to explore the many one-of-a-kind boutiques and artisans located nearby.

Day 2. Friday, September 27. Workshop.
Our workshop will get started at 9:30 a.m. We’ll break for lunch (on your own); we’ll then work until 4:30 p.m. The workshop room also will be open each evening.
Meal included: Breakfast.

Day 3. Saturday, September 28. Workshop and Free Time.
We’ll resume our workshop at 9:30 a.m. After lunch, you'll have free time to explore La Conner.
Meal included: Breakfast

Day 4. Sunday, September 29. Workshop.
Our workshop day again will go from 9:30 to 4:30 p.m. with a break for lunch (on your own).
Meal included: Breakfast

Day 5. Monday, September 30. Workshop.
Workshop all day with a break for lunch (on your own). In the evening we'll have our farewell dinner.
Meals included: Breakfast, dinner.

Day 6. Tuesday, October 1. Depart.
Enjoy the morning; check out time is 11 a.m.
Meal included: Breakfast

About our workshop . . . "Lockets, Boxes, Doors & Windows"
Have you ever wondered how in the world did Cynthia design something? This workshop is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into her thought-processes and learn about how she designs and constructs her ideas--incredible!

Cynthia writes:
"As a seed bead artist, I am constantly challenged by creating functional shapes in beadwork. How can I make beaded chain that mimics the look of links in a metal chain? Will the fancy clasp withstand the pressures of being functional? What about shapes that defy the laws of beadwork like hollow three-dimensional rings? How do I make a hinge so that my box lid opens and closes? So many questions and decisions to make that can make your brain explode!"

This workshop will cover many techniques for making hinges so that a piece of beadwork can open; the making of shapes that can stand on their own whether they are used in a pendant or a trinket box; and open spaces in the beadwork that allows the light to show through, or a design element that allows the observer to view something special inside the shape. This thought process has been the focus of my work for 27 years. The results lead me to believe that almost anything can be done in beadwork if there is the right combination of planning, materials and willpower involved in the creative process.

You will design and create a piece of beadwork that can either be a wearable, as in a necklace, bracelet, or brooch, or nonfunctional, as in a small box or other shape of their choice. This leads to a very broad spectrum of options which is quite exciting.

About one month prior to class, the group will meet up via Zoom so that each student can present their ideas for their project. Once we meet up in person, we will discuss the progression that the project should take. Throughout the workshop students will have the opportunity to discuss how their project is going and what techniques they have used to create their piece.

The techniques involved will be varied and will depend on the student’s skill level. Shaping techniques in Peyote, Brick, RAW, CRAW and Herringbone stitches will be covered. Numerous techniques for closures, entrapping, embellishing and fringes, will also be discussed as students experience the process of creating art.


About our teacher Cynthia Rutledge . . .
Cynthia is a contemporary seed bead artist and has been teaching for over 27 years. She specializes in peyote stitch and off‐loom weaving techniques, with an emphasis on developing sculptural unsupported shapes in beadwork. Her work has been exhibited in national and international shows, many books and publications including her first solo book, “Timeless Beadwork Designs”.

Cynthia shares “My path to being an artist has always been driven by my desire to create something that is beautiful to me. I bead for myself, to satisfy my desire to create, to feed my soul. That others admire my work is a gift. If they see something in my work that appeals to them, that calls to them, then I am blessed indeed, as maybe they can see a glimpse of the part of me that is just following my heart.”

Learn more about Cynthia at her webpage.

The Details

Cost:  $750.00


  • Workshop tuition for 3 1/2 days of instruction
  • All breakfasts and farewell dinner

Does Not Include:

  • Lodging
  • Transportation to and from the retreat
  • Lunches, other dinners
  • Workshop supplies

To Sign Up / Payment Terms

Space is limited. To hold your spot, complete the on-line registration form and pay a $400 deposit. Balance will be due 120 days prior to start of the retreat (see Conditions & Responsibilities for more information).

About Lodging

You will individually book your room by contacting the La Conner Inn at 360-466-3101 or via email and tell them you are attending the Beadventure retreat so that you get our group rate, which is:

            Single Queen Bed      $159 + about $21 in taxes, fees per night

            Two Queen beds        $169 + about $22 in taxes, fees per night

            King bed                     $189 + about $24 in taxes fees per night

Getting There

You can fly into Seattle Tacoma International Airport (airport code SEA), which is about 70 miles from La Conner; or Bellingham International Airport (airport code BLI), 35 miles from La Conner. You can rent a car or use a ground transportation service (information about ground transportation options will be provided as the retreat date draws closer).

Retreat Notes . . .

  • This is a class for advanced beaders (it is not a class with a kit and step-by-step instructions). Students should be comfortable with stitches such as peyote, RAW, CRAW, and brick;
  • As the date draws closer, Cynthia will provide information about what supplies to bring; we'll also schedule a Zoom get together to further discuss your design and the retreat; and
  • Bring your typical beading "infrastructure" (bead mat, task light, magnification, etc.).