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.
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