Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year always makes me want to start something new - a new project, a new challenge, find a new friend, try out a new recipe, or even do something as small as changing my daily schedule.

Maybe you have occasionally admired some bead work and wondered if you could make something like it. My answer would be a resounding "yes."

Yes you can easily begin with beads. They are so simple - just a ball with a hole through it. Even kindergartners string beads! Why should they have all the fun?

As an adult there are other reasons for taking up bead work:

1. No other material you can work with rivals beads except perhaps stained glass. Even that does not have silver-lined beads (love that shine!), or sparkling crystals (how to feel rich on a moderate budget). Beads offer a wider range of materials than just glass and crystal when you stray into bone or wooden beads, or polymer and ceramic clay beads, lamp work (the bigger glass beads with colors and images within the globe), or shells of every sort and kind. As the beads move through your hands onto the object you are making, their beauty becomes your beauty. What more can you ask from an art form?

2. Working with beads is neat and clean. No messy mixtures, no water to spill, no paints to smear on your clothes, no fibers to make you sneeze, no snippets, no glues (well hardly ever), no obnoxious smells or fumes, no ink on your fingers, no goop under your nails - just piles of sparkling shining beads. The most mess they will make will be the occasional spill and that is quick and easy to clean up with a scoop or vacuum cleaner.

3. Beads do not need a lot of room. A small try on your lap is all you need. How many hobbies can you do in an airplane? Maybe I should qualify that "beads do not need a lot of room" to say working with beads. . . As you begin to buy beads, you may be led astray and end up buying more. As with any art material there is the need to sort and store your beads so you can find them when you need them. Finding this method that suits you is another of the joys of beading.

4. Beads can be inexpensive. There are no expensive tools to buy, no kilns needed, no easels, no new studio, no machinery. A few vials of your favorite color beads, thread, good scissors, a tray (or box lid) and a good reading lamp. Beads, unlike canvas or fabric, are completely recyclable. If you made a piece that later is not up to your standards, you just snip the thread and your beads are ready to become something new. It is much easier than unraveling a sweater and the beads will still look like new.

5. People love beaded works. No more trying to sell those walls of canvases or shelves of pots, or baskets of knitted hats. People buy more beaded works than any assessory. No woman has too much jewelry, and there is always room for one more piece.

6. Working with beads can be as simple as stringing necklaces and bracelets or as complicated as sculptures. This one shown at Gualala Arts Center in November, 2008 was over ten feet tall. The top is not included in this photo.

7. Beaders are companionable and generous. They love giving you new beads or showing you a new technique. Because we all do things so differently there is rarely any competition. Any idea one borrows will probably look totally different from the piece that inspired it.

Now what reason do you have for not heading out to the bead store tomorrow? Or go online? Fire Mountain Beads and Gems is still my favorite one-stop shop online. And you? Where do you find your treasures?