Back then, we were a single-income household and I was desperate for a time-sucking, mind-numbing hobby that could distract me from the pile of bills and empty cupboard. It was real life. It was struggle. There are many who will, unfortunately, understand that reality. So, in my desperation.... and it was desperation... to put my mind on things of comfort and ease and simplicity, I discovered jewelry making. Initially, I was so wrapped up (no pun intended) in what I was seeing others do while I researched techniques and styles and aesthetics of the current trends, that I failed to see how I could affordably translate those styles and trends to jewelry. But let's be real. I didn't need a $50 larimar cabochon and 14k gold wire. I didn't need torches or tumblers or dapping sets (I'm still not quite sure how to use those things). I just needed a $2 strand of freshwater pearls from Michael's Arts & Crafts, and a pile of recycled electrical wire. And, ahem, the pliers I'd confiscated from my husband's tool box.
So yeah. Beads.
Glorious beautiful beads. The local craft store was awash with them. And they were pretty and sparkled and, despite a relatively low price tag, allowed me ample opportunity to test the waters of this new creative endeavor.... and, along the way, offer my anxiety a little reprieve. $2 bought me 16 beads. 16 awesome opportunities to create. And yes, even $2was sometimes a stretch for our budget, so I learned to allow the wire (mostly free and fairly prevalent) to represent my vision and used the beads to accent that vision.
And to this day, I am an advocate for the use of beads in wire and metal work. I was recently offered a spread in an un-named prolific magazine on the condition the work submitted utilized no beads. "Beads", they said "are not representative of the quality of our aesthetic".
Well, okay then.
Needless to say, I declined their offer. Because I love beads. Beads were my gateway drug. They were the snowball before the avalanche. They were the tiny balls of beauty in a life that once couldn't afford much else.
So to those who say beads are not for "artists", I say who are you to define for me what art is? Art is a salve for the soul. And for every strand of beads, I had a palm full of remedies.
Use your beads, my friends. Go and create.
3/9/2017 12:20:10 pm
Thank you for this. Especially the paragraph about defining art. I was just informed by another artist yesterday that I'm not doing it the "right" way because of the type of copper wire I use. I was under the impression that I get to choose what's "right" for me and my creations. Thank you for all you do and share with us.
3/12/2017 11:41:40 am
YES!!!! (I've gotten into this discussion before) That is my point with the wire I use. It's my art. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone and I tell them exactly what type of wire it is than that's all that matters.
3/9/2017 01:07:00 pm
Hi, I love going into my local bead store! I tell my husband who sits out in the car "I'll just be 5 minutes, I only need one thing". Ahem. I see the beads as the frosting on the cake. Thank you for all your sharing. You are so generous with your knowledge!
3/10/2017 10:57:56 am
Beads, cabochons, beach glass... if I like the way something looks and feels I really don't mind the shape or how many holes it has drilled through it. And if the same stone is more affordable in the bead form rather than cabochon, then I'm even happier ;)
3/12/2017 01:46:47 pm
I remember well a comment on one of your posts a few years ago where someone attempted to shame you for using beads. Your last few sentences in this blog post are a good echo of your reply to that person. I applauded you then, and do so now. I admire everything you do. Thanks so much for sharing your voice. And talent.
3/12/2017 07:33:00 pm
I too, am a lover of beads. I don't understand the use and expense of a cabochon. AlthoI have dabled with cabochons, a bead the same size and quality is a fraction of the cost and is beautiful. Also, its so much fun to be able to incorporate several beads into a single piece.
6/1/2017 07:34:03 pm
beads,cabs,just wire..weird stones and branches,silver,copper?
5/4/2021 10:03:47 am
I am going to continue to work hard on the tuts I purchased until they are as flawless as yours.
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