I'm a collector of many things and I'm passionate about beads. Oftentimes, I tell people I've been beading for a hundred years. But it's really only been 60. My grandmother, Emma, starting me on all things crafty. Born in the 1890's, living through the violent Roaring 20's, and trying to send her children off into the world during the Depression, she learned to create with an artistic flair. With very little money, she became very innovative and industrious, doing what she loved in whatever ways she could. So here I am. Everything I am today, I learned from her.
In 1950, she started me on sewing and then embellishing with snippets of yarn, fabric scraps left over from her quilts, and seed beads from tiny glass vials with a cork stopper. In those days, there were no bead stores. I remember seeing at least a dozen colors ( yes, I said a dozen), of those tiny vials at the 'five-and-dime'. Woolworth's, and ..... If you know what I'm talking about - I now know something about you.
My grandmother took some leftover 'clothes line', dyed it in food coloring, then stitched it together to make a necklace. She and I would spend hours sewing on beads - just here and there - just to add some sparkle - talking and laughing together. She told me about how hard her childhood was - having to walk to school.....for miles...through the snow.... all the while still laughing and beading.
Because we didn't have everything we needed to embellish our treasures, we made our own beads. Sometimes out of paper - cut and rolled - then glued with paste made with flour and water. To make bracelets, we laced these paper tubes together, between old leather shoe laces. Those bracelets have now become the 'new' ladder stitch wrapped bracelets of today, made popular by Chan Luu.
We made beads that looked a lot like very fine porcelain. From crumbled up bread (that my grandmother baked a few days earlier), she added liquid white shoe polish (do they even make that any more - huh, white shoes?). She also added a little glycerin, which in the 'old' days was used as hand lotion. We used this 'dough' and crafted the most beautiful tiny flowers that remarkably looked like porcelain. We punched a hole through the back with a tooth pick and strung them on braided dental floss. I thought they were amazing.
So my love affair with beads started with my grandmother's love. Today I feel so fortunate to have the selection of beads that are available. I am also fortunate to have met wonderful people along the way. You 'beaders' who do such exquisite work in breathtaking colors - you brighten my days with your artistic flair. And the creators of beads - the owners of the companies - who oftentimes make me what I want - just because I ask.
My advice to all of you - is to just create - with whatever materials you have - with whatever colors of beads you may have. And if you don't have what you need, and can't afford to buy it - then make it. Creating is about feeding your spirit.
My wish for you for the new year is that you have the time to be creative, to have the time for yourself - to do whatever it is that you love. Stay safe and have a great 2012 - you are all much loved, Eileen