As a writer of tutorials, I'm often asked why I have so few lessons with a focus on setting cabochons. I admit my bias towards the use of beads in wire work. Not because they are "easier to wrap", a common misconception by which I'm always confounded, but because they are beautiful, artful, readily available, sometimes with a price that mirrors their artistic qualities and sometimes the only affordable option. Because they were my "gateway drug" to wire wrapping, when I was a very poor single mother, who had followed her heart across the country, with no practical skills besides an ability to type 90 words per minute and two children in tow. When I hadn't the money for much, I had an abundant supply of beads gifted me by others. And I made something pretty with them. However small a thing that is, in the greater scheme of things, when bills needed to be paid and children reared and family tended, at the end of the day, I could make something pretty. Make someone smile. Let lose my mind from things that were so full of stress, and just be creative. Beads were my sanity and escape and, ultimately, my passion.
A recent conversation regarding the prevalence of beads in wire work surprised me, yes, but also offended me by the very notion at its center that beads are somehow "less" than cabochons, less deserving of appreciation or respect. What an odd discrimination! I have spent a great portion of my creative life with a mission to make something beautiful with what life provides me. In fact, I dare say it's more challenging than when there is a spread of faceted stones and bright labradorites and the sharp herkimer diamonds all beckoning for as little decoration as possible for fear of masking their beauty. But to take an unassuming bead, a small freshwater pearl, a dime-a-dozen dyed agate, and create something mesmerizing to me in its intricacies.... what more do I need?
I have a handful of tools and a drawer of beads and stones, which seems so little by some standards. And if there were even less, I would still have such abundant means for creating. So instead of wondering, of beads or cabochons, which is worth more, which is more deserving, ask yourself what possibilities and wonders you can discover, which others chose to ignore. You might surprise yourself.
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