Poem about beads

I could lie
and tell you
an amazing story
about these beads,
the far reaches of the world
I travel to get them,
the famous people
who previously owned them,
the magical powers
they have.

Instead,
I’d rather spend
my energy
making the necklaces
than making up
stories
about them.

If you want stories,
read my books.
If you want beauty,
buy my jewelry.
I won’t lie to you
ever
but especially
to sell you something.
Beware of people who do.

The bead poem at Bead Box in Boone, NC.

bead box

THE BEAD
alone and complete is a prayer.
A strand of beads or fringe is a reminder to pray.
The hole in the center, a negative space
is to make us aware.
It is a balance of positive and negative
that sustains our lives each day.
To know the bead
is to understand the apex of creation.
To wear the bead
is to acknowledge the gift of life.

(This poem was behind the cash register, painted as a huge mural, at a bead store in Boone, North Carolina on King Street. The store has changed hands and the mural is now gone. I’m grateful I took a picture of it when I did, so I could share it here. I do not know the author.)

Sea of Stars

Here’s something I’ve been working on recently.

Front view. Acrylic paint, oil pastel, decoupage glue, metal foil.

stars4

Top left side. Chinese fortunes, Czech glass stars, glue

stars3

Another view of the same.
stars2

Top right view.
stars1

I’ll need to paint matte medium over the top sides again so that it all has the same sheen. But it is mostly done. It hangs like a diamond – it isn’t horizontal. One nail in the wall and then pop it on.

Changing gears

When I made a lot of jewelry in college, I would go on binges. I’d feel really creative and make just one earring of each set. I’d make about twenty different single earrings like this. To slow down long enough to finish out the pair would stop the flow. I’d leave the tray of singles aside until another day, when I wasn’t feeling as creative but I wanted something to do. Then I’d make the other one.

I’m finding it is the same with writing. I’ve reached a slower part. It is now time to condense everything and sift out what needs to go into a book.

There are plenty of contenders for the first book. I feel like I’ve written about three, all at once, over sixteen months. I certainly hadn’t planned on writing this much.

It isn’t all awesome. Some of it is rambling. Some of it is just a warm up for the rest. Some of it is pretty worthwhile. Some of it surprises me. Some of it I don’t remember writing.

The funny part is that with writing and jewelry it is the same. The stuff that I really like, that I poured a lot of work into, is the stuff that gets ignored. My “throwaway” pieces get far more notice and attention. Well, except for the stuff I publicize. When I’ve posted stuff on well-trafficked pages on Facebook, I’ve gotten thousands of hits.

For a while I was writing three posts a day. Sometimes five. For a while I’d wake up with a new idea for something to write every morning. Then I’d get new ideas during the day and I’d jot them down in my notebook. For a while I felt like the ideas were wrestling for my attention, demanding to be written. For a while it was overwhelming.

It has slowed down quite a bit, and I’m glad in a way. I’m a little concerned it means that things are drying up, but I still have my notebooks full of ideas. They are like little seeds. Just water them with a little time and they will grow into full sized posts. They are like zip files – compressed information. The ideas were coming so fast it was almost like I had to take shorthand in order to catch them.

Now is the time of sorting. I’ve sort of pre-sorted all along. I’ve put posts into categories and I’ve tagged them. The only issue is that some posts are in multiple categories and some have multiple tags. While this is fine in a blog, it isn’t fine in a book. Books are very linear. Blogs are very, well, not.

I’m not a big fan of sorting, but it doesn’t do itself. Sometimes I think I’d like to have minions. It would be nice to have an assistant to sort and sift. But then whatever comes out of this is going to have my name on it, so it needs to be all stuff that I not only like but can stand behind.

I’m sorting things roughly now. I’ve created a separate blog just for the religious/spiritual pieces to help me organize. Interestingly, that blog has its own set of followers. I don’t advertise it. But creating it gives me a different way to look at what I’m sorting out. I put the posts in folders on my computer as well. Then I’ll go through and look at them again, closer, and weed out what isn’t quite useful at this time.

It is kind of like making a jigsaw puzzle, except it doesn’t have the ease of visuals. I can’t just look at a post like I can with a puzzle piece and tell that it has a bit of sky in it, so it goes over here. I have to read the posts closely for themes. It takes longer.

Just getting them from one blog to the other (and the folders in between) takes a long time. It was really slow going for a while but I’ve finally learned to open up two browsers. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how I was doing it before. It was quite clunky and I was losing posts. I was also getting confused as to how I was sorting them.

This work is pretty dull in some ways, and interesting in others. I’m coming across some posts that I’ve forgotten. I’m also a bit amazed at how much I’ve written. I have no idea if this will do well as a book either. I may spend a lot of money self publishing it and nothing will happen. Sure, it is already “published” on the web, but there is something about having an actual book that says “real author”. Of course, having it published by a “real” publishing company versus self-publishing says that.

The stigma is going away for self-publishing. People don’t look askance at it. There are plenty of stories of authors these days being turned down by major publishing houses, only to go ahead and publish their work on their own. Then they make a lot of money, and the publishing house begs their forgiveness. Then they show a contract to the author, and the author realizes that she would lose a lot of money to get her book published by them. It is kind of like going freelance versus working for a company. An electrician who works on his own charges a lot less and takes home a lot more than the one who works for a business. Plus, people seem to like the renegade, the rebel, the self-starter. People cheer on the underdog.

I’m reminded that Emily Dickinson’s poems were unknown to anyone other than her in her lifetime, and that Mozart wasn’t acclaimed anywhere near what he is now. I’m also reminded that even Thoreau self published a book.

Do I want fame? Not really. Do I want the ideas that have come to me to change the world? Yes. Do I trust that God’s hand is in all of this? Yes, and no. But this is normal for me. I want to make the frog’s legs grow faster, because the tadpole is too slow. I feel like my “push”, my desire to get things done, is from God. Is it, or is it just me being impatient? A lot of it is trusting the process, and just showing up, right? I think if I pray hard and work hard, then what will happen next is what is meant to happen. I think that if I work to align myself with God, then I’m on the right path no matter what happens. I think that even if I think I’m off the path, it turns out that is part of the path too.

Bead Shaman

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.