Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How to Solve any Problem with Beads

Some of the beads I've gathered abroad,
or just from a trip to the craft store.

How to Solve any Problem with Beads. Really? Well, that's the title/theme I've just been given from my latest discovery: a blog post generator! 

Back story: I was scrolling through Twitter (when I was supposed to be editing my poetry manuscript) when I read a tweet that totally intrigued me, a reference to using a blog post generator. Naturally, I had to check it out, mainly because I've never come across a creativity generator I didn't like. Whether it's been to name a foreign character, find a setting for my National Novel Writing Month plot, or match a profession to a villain, generators are fun. 

The blog post generator I found was no exception, the only difference being that I had to enter three nouns before the generator could assign my topic. My choices were: creativity, beads, and writing. I then clicked on "go" and ta-dah: How to Solve any Problem with Beads. 

I had a good laugh, and then thought, hey, why not? That's a great topic! The only trouble was, I didn't know whether it meant how to solve big problems, like, how to bring about world peace, or how to get your neighbor's dog to stop barking; or did it mean, how to solve any problems you're having with beading, such as how to correctly fit those pesky crimp covers used for finishing the ends of necklaces and bracelets. If so, I have to admit I don't have any solutions for crimp covers (the bane of my beading life) other than try, try, try again, but I also know that in the trying I've been able to zone out and solve (or at least meditate upon) quite a few day-to-day challenges including writing and painting problems.

My (tiny) bead table.

I know I'm not alone in my fascination with beads. Beads in all forms and shapes have a long history of decorative and spiritual use, from Buddhist malas to Christian rosaries and burial relics in ancient grave sites.

5000-year-old beads I saw at the National  
History Museum in Taipei, Taiwan.

I've always been particularly intrigued by a story I once heard on NPR about the tradition of making rosaries from actual rose petals. The petals are boiled, rolled and formed into beads for drying and stringing. Holding the finished rosary in one's hands supposedly emits a strong scent of roses, something that must be quite heavenly to experience.

Unfortunately, I can't get a rose bush to thrive long enough to bloom, let alone think of gathering its petals for bead-making. On the other hand, finding beads while traveling, even if it's only to the next town has solved the  "what to bring home as a souvenir or gift" dilemma nicely. 

More than anything, beading has been a way for me to take a break from writing or painting, although there are some nice parallels to the visual arts, especially when it comes to working with color. I often like to start with a single shade and then search out whatever in my collection matches or complements that choice. Once I have all the beads I think I might want to use, I rarely settle on one design; I change, rearrange, or completely re-think the entire scheme several dozen times before I'm satisfied with the outcome.

Works-in-progress! Note the tiny gold crimp
covers lying there all on their loathsome lonesome. 
I'll get to them . . . soon . . . 

Right now I'm doing my best to solve my bead storage problem. It's amazing how many little containers and boxes are required to keep everything in order. For a born-minimalist like me, it's a nightmare. To make more room I've decided to use up all the beads I have before I buy anything new. Part of this clean-up effort has been to toss the less-attractive beads I've been hanging on to for no good reason other than they were part of my favorite way of buying beads in grab bags--random assortments that suit the puzzle-solver in me to a T. Now if I could just get those crimp covers to work . . . 

Tip of the Day: Try beading! A simple way to dive in is to visit your local bead or craft store and buy not only a grab bag but a few "focal beads," the larger, flashier beads meant for the center of a necklace or bracelet. You don't have to make jewelry or buy expensive tools to get started. Instead, string a few beads together to tie on to gift packages, the ends of bookmarks, or to decorate your journal. After that, you might want to carry on to the real thing, thereby giving yourself all kinds of interesting problems to solve. Happy Summer!