Studio fulfills the needs of the crafty in Key West

With a bottle of wine and a crafty mind, five ladies filed into the backroom at Impossible Things Bead Emporium and Studio Tuesday evening for a “make and take” class offered by jewelry designer and owner Lois Songer. When they were finished, a new necklace and pair of earrings sparkled at their earlobes and neck. “It’s a fun ladies night,” said Songer. “We are pretty flexible with scheduling the parties.”

Impossible Things is Key West’s full-service bead store featuring gemstones, pewter, crystal, pearls, glass lampwork beads, tools, classes, and finished jewelry.

Owners Lois and Mark Songer started making glass beads in their home 15 years ago, and since, the hobby has become a successful business venture. They make the beads in a technique called lampworking, using a torch to melt the glass, now in the backroom of the store.

“I would sit at Rubies and Clay making jewelry and people would walk by looking at what I was making and wanting to buy it,” she said. In addition to owning Impossible Things, Lois is also partners with Grace Epperly at Rubies and Clay, the shop right next door. It offers pottery classes and is also an art studio where artists can work, and some sell their wares. In fact, Lois sold her work there for three years, prior to opening the bead-specific art studio and supply house. “I needed a place to move my glass bead studio out of my house,” she said. “I wanted a working studio and this works as a studio, classroom, and workshop.”

Thursday and Saturday mornings it offers a “Beading 101” class at 10 a.m. The class starts with an overview of the tools — like cutters, crimpers, and wire wrappers. Then the students pick from an array of beads hanging around the shop, and design their necklace on a specialty mat. Once the design is made, wire is cut to string the item, while Lois teaches the art of clasping and wire wrapping. Attendees come away with a necklace, earrings, and a basic understanding of beadwork. The two-hour class costs $40 and includes the materials.

About half of the store’s business comes from professional and hobbyists who walk in to buy beads. “A lot of travelers seek out bead stores when they travel, and we have a good following of local people who come in regularly to pick up beads and supplies.”

They have a constant rotation of new items coming into the store. Lois has an eye for picking up exotic and precious gems from around the world, including her recent find of larimar, an expensive set of stones with the perfect ocean aqua hues. She also has ceramics and contemporary African trade beads in a mix of colors and shapes.

“The last bead store in Key West closed up about four of five years ago,” she said. “People were looking for a place to buy beads.”

Lois also sells the work of guests artists such as Kelly Leininger Patton, who owns a jewelry making business called Spare Parts. “It’s an upcycled look that is really popular,” said Lois. “Nuts, rulers, lightbulbs, old game pieces and fuses — it’s a really cool look.”

Her favorite part of the shop is her now endless supply and section of beads to design from.

Impossible Things Bead Emporium and Studio is located at 531 Whitehead Street in Key West and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. To schedule a class, call 305-294-3500.


Rubies and Clay, next door to Impossible Things Bead Emporium, is offering a kids’ summer camp from 9 a.m. until noon Mondays through Fridays for children ages 7 to 11 through August 21. The class is $300 and includes all materials and healthy snacks. Students will make pottery, go on a painting and drawing field trip, and glaze all the work they make. Call 305-923-6199 to reserve a spot.

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