I love to invite people to my home to help them create their own custom jewelry, or to take orders for it. I am like a shaman, but with beads. I use beads this way for myself, and I know there are others who have this need but don’t know how.
This is about more than just making a necklace or a bracelet. This is about making beaded items that have energy and meaning.
Making jewelry for the beginner isn’t easy. Perhaps you need only three beads, but you have to buy the whole strand. That is way too expensive for individuals. Perhaps you have an idea in mind but you aren’t sure how to do it. Perhaps you don’t know how to use crimp beads or clasps.
This is where you need expert help. There is an art to making things look simple.
Now, this doesn’t mean that making jewelry is simple.
Sometimes I’ll try to get across an idea and I just can’t do it with one design, so I’ll try with another. Sometimes even that doesn’t work. The beads are beautiful, they just aren’t beautiful together. This happens a lot more than I would like. When things happen in my head they work great. In reality the colors don’t work together or the proportions are off or the textures clash. I’m starting to realize that I’m better off if I just don’t think about it too much and just start trying it out in reality.
Sometimes I’ll buy a strand of beads just because I want to work with them. They are beautiful or rare or have a texture I’ve never seen. This happens a lot. When bead shopping, it is best to buy whatever catches your fancy then, because you won’t see it the next time. I’ll make something, and then have beads left over.
But being a bead shaman is more than that. Perhaps it is pretentious to say the word shaman, but I can’t think of anything else that comes close. How else can I describe an ability to create exactly what someone needs and I’ve not even seen them? How else can I describe being able to use beads as medicine?
If someone is grieving, giving them beads that are sharp or angular will only make it worse. Smooth beads, and ones that are oval or round, will be more soothing. Giving them beads that are neon colored will only make them hurt. Colors need to be muted.
This is part of what I mean. It is about knowing the effect that color and shape has on a person.
Knowing the history of beads is important too – where did they come from? Who made them? Are they used for any ritual purposes? What is the material? All of this knowledge comes from years of study. Beads aren’t just beads. They have layers of meaning.
Sure, there are books that talk about the powers of gemstones, and I know some of that. But I’m more interested in the other layers of meaning. For example, knowing that the majority of beads in one necklace were made by refugees gives the necklace a certain kind of beauty that isn’t apparent to the eye.
I love making power necklaces, and that other people can sense it. I love that I made a necklace in honor of the Holy Spirit and a lady wore it to a meeting in defense of her disabled child and prevailed.
I have studied beads over half my life, and there is always something new to learn and share about them.
The best thing anybody can do is give me a rough outline of what they want – a color, or a particular stone that they like – and then let me do the rest. A lot of this is by feel, and for that to work the person has to trust me. I’ll make exactly what they need, even though they may not realize it at the time. And when I make it, I pray for them. That energy goes into it too.
Beads are prayers made visible, and are stories in miniature.