Franklin Martin's Beadwork Is Therapeutic & Calming

Kirt Ramirez

Franklin Martin does it “one bead at a time.”

Martin started stringing tiny beads together in February 2015 at the advice of his therapist, as a way to treat his depression. After doing beadweaving research and watching online tutorial videos, he began making bracelets, necklaces, earrings and then complicated “origami folding nets.”

The nets, also called kaleidocycles, turn in on themselves, exposing brilliant colors and intricate designs. The mathematical toys can be intriguing and mind-boggling.

He finds the beadwork therapeutic and calming.

“Cures aren’t just through medicine,” he said. “This really helps me.”

Martin does most of his work from his Long Beach home. He special orders the small, seed-like, glass precision beads from a company in Japan, because arts and crafts stores do not carry what he uses, he said.

The rather pricey beads consist of colored glass in the three sizes he employs; the largest being 6/0, medium; 11/0 and the smallest; 15/0.

“The supplies are simple,” he said. “It’s glass beads, needle and thread that create these three-dimensional structures.”

Once people learn the basic stitch, they can expand and do their own style, he added.

Martin’s 20 years of fashion industry experience help guide his beadweaving color combinations.

“I like playing with colors,” he said.

The time it takes to complete a piece varies. A simple three-row bracelet with red, gold and orange shades can take an hour.

But complex items take longer. For example, a beaded jewelry box measuring four inches square and four-and-a-half inches tall, with six different colors, required a month’s worth of work.

He said he would charge $5,000 for that particular article because of the time, the value of the beads and because of the 24-karat gold beads in certain areas. A museum would be the most likely candidate, he explained.

“That is 12,000 beads strung together,” he said.

His jewelry starts at $50 and Merry’s at 2747 E. Broadway carries a selection of Martin’s wares.

Martin can charge $260 for a kaleidocycle with 26 triangles, each triangle taking an hour to create.

Some people are in to beads.

He posted an image on his Facebook page of a kaleidocycle he made. It got more than 30,000 hits. And a bead box was viewed over 15,000 times.

Martin joined the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork group on Facebook, run by publisher Kate McKinnun.

“We’re just a strange entity,” Martin said. “But there are people all over the world that belong to the group.”

And he will make occasional appearances in McKinnun’s textbook “Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Vol. 3,” set for release in the first quarter of 2019, he said.

Meanwhile, Martin will teach beadwork classes throughout the country in the new year. He already has 12 bookings lined up. Each class is four to seven hours long and typically lasts one to two days, he said.

Places he will teach include Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Colorado, Newbury Park and at MIT in Cambridge, in addition to personal lessons at his home studio.

He plans to offer a website next year where guides, kits and patterns can be sold along with his handmade pieces.

“It’s my full-time job now, teaching and selling items,” he said.

Martin’s Facebook page is FAMe Jewelry and his Instagram page is Martinfjr1.



Franklin is an artist with an architect's mind. I am a huge fan.

Franklin taught me bead weaving. He is an incredibly artistic talent: smart, modern and inventive in his use of color and form; strong, taut and precise in his technique. If you've ever harbored any curiosity about what is possible with beads – or perhaps especially if you haven't - look him up. I have never looked at bead work the same way again.

Great article of a wonderful human being. Gracias Franklin.

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