I honestly don’t remember where my first packets of beads came from. I don’t remember the type of thread I used, or how I crimped the clasps on to my creations…
But I clearly remember sitting in my living room, watching the nerdy TV shows my childhood self enjoyed (and my adult self still gravitates to) with my favorite Disney themed TV tray across my lap and a bunch of canisters of beads to choose from.
My first creations were… colourful, to say the least. I think (though I can’t be sure) they had no discernable patterns – in shape or size or texture or colour. My fingers wanted to create something tactile and unique, something as appealing to the touch as many things were to the eye.
I remember seed beads – little tiny beads that my little tiny fingers threaded onto whatever wire I could get in whatever combination came out of the film cannister they were stored in. Long tubular beads (for some strange reason I vaguely recall dubbing them “bugles”) were generally silver toned or other neutral colours, so I put them with everything. My personal favourits were plastic three-pointed beads that came in a variety of colours, but when you stacked them on top of each other the points filled out the hollow space of the bead beside it.
Writing this all out makes me a little embarrassed for my childhood self. My vision was such at the time that I could tell colours apart on REALLY big things (like buildings or cars), but not clothes or jewelry. But I was a kid in the early 90s, where you could wear whatever colours you wanted, because anything went (snap bracelets, anyone?). That’s how childhoold me remembers the nineties… or was that just me?
Our local mall had a bead shop, called the Bead Loom. I remember wanting to go in every time I went to the mall (and we went a lot!) to get some new bugles, and – I think in retrospect – just to go to a store where, as a blind kid who was not usually allowed to touch stuff, touching the merchandise was not only permitted, but encouraged! I loved the rows and rows of trays, all filled with beads that I could actually hold in my hands! I was very happy there were so many beads, but sad that there were so many of them I couldn’t afford. For a while that’s where a lot of my allowance money went (I think my parents might have chipped in when my purchases went over-budget… that memory is hazy though).
For a couple of years, that’s what kept my fingers and mind occupied. That TV tray contained (and prevented) many a disaster if my fingers tipped over a cannister of seed beads, or when I trimmed the wire of a completed piece only to learn that I’d cut it too short and my colourful creation tumbled off the wire (for the record, sometimes that still happens, and also for the record I still cry like a little girl whenever it does).
But, as many childhood hobbies, beading fell by the wayside. I somehow understood that the pieces I made when I was six or seven – all splashes of colour in all kinds of directions – weren’t as “acceptable” when I was nine or ten. The bead store in the mall closed down, I discovered my love of music, and started to pursue other things. I had all but forgotten about my foray into jewelry making for more than a decade and a half, when an off-the-cuff comment set me on the path that I’ve been following – sometimes in fits and starts, and sometimes with great gusto – ever since.
Wonderful! What struck me most was your final thought. About an off-hand comment from years ago that prompted a significant change in your life. How often does that happen in all of our lives?
Thanks for sharing your story! Beading is such a wonderful craft.
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