LAURA SNYDER: Going Through Stages of Beading
My daughter and I share a love of beads and beading. However, we shop for beads a little differently.
I usually decide what I want to make, then go into a craft store and buy the right beads for my project. When I'm finished with my project, I throw the leftover beads into a bin.
My daughter, however, goes into a craft store, buys the biggest bin of assorted beads she can find and decides what she can make with them after she gets home.
"Mommy, I need 10 of these little striped-y beads and six of the gold flowery ones. Can you help me find them?"
"Why didn't you just buy little striped-y beads and the gold flowery ones?"
"I didn't know that these were the ones I'd need."
"What are you making?"
"I don't know yet. It depends on how big it is when I'm done."
I've learned to accept these little beading quirks of my daughter's, though. Besides there is something about going through a random bin of beads that makes me feel as if we're on a treasure hunt.
You've got your typical opaque beads that I regard as "fillers," the plastic faceted beads, the round beads that get away from you on a surface that isn't flat, the requisite gold and silver beadlets, and then all of a sudden:
"Wow! Look at this! It's a starfish bead! What a find!"
Most serious beaders know this beadly fact: There are definite stages of beading proficiency.
The first stage is characterized by one-inch wooden beads and colored shoelaces. The beginner beader doesn't have the eye-hand coordination to work with anything smaller. My daughter and I are well past this stage, but to illustrate this stage I will tell you what I witnessed when she was younger.
My daughter has always loved "cats and cats," which were her words for "arts and crafts" when she was three. I have a whole room devoted to "cats and cats."
One day she got into this room without my knowledge. She hadn't made it through stage one yet, but she was thrilled with the many beads she found there. Because they were too small for her to pick up one at a time, she proceeded to dump all of my carefully separated seed beads into one big bowl. When I found her, she was cheerfully mixing them up with her little hands.
I knew that I would spend hours re-separating those tiny beads later, but then, I looked at her happy little face and took comfort in the knowledge that a future beader had just been born. I looked forward to her future stages when she might understand that what she had just done was a major beading no-no.
The second stage is a little awkward. There is an understanding as to why you don't mix beads, but patterns, bead size, and symmetry are still foreign concepts. I once received a bracelet from my daughter that included, in this order, three opaque white beads, a red button, a black button, an orange sea horse, six pink hearts, a gold rose bead, and a white, flat bead with the letter "V" on it. All of these were strung very loosely on a wire that was too big for my wrist.
When I asked her why she chose this particular assortment of beads she said, "They were my best ones, and V is in the word love." It is still my favorite piece of jewelry.
Stage three is when you understand patterns, symmetry, colors and size. You understand that silver goes with pastel beads and that gold goes with bolder colors. This is the stage where you make your best stuff and consider selling it at flea markets and consignment shops.
Stage four is when you can no longer see the hole in the bead, and the end of the cord keeps disappearing. It becomes a game of hide and seek or, more appropriately, poke and miss. Unfortunately, this is the stage I am in now.
I always wondered why the older a woman is, the chunkier her jewelry becomes. By the time I reach 80 or 90 years old, I'll be wearing the one-inch wooden beads on colored shoelaces again.
Whispering Pines writer Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and speaker. Contact her at email@example.com, or visit her Web site www.lauraonlife.com.
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