It’s the first craft we learn, isn’t it? Big wooden beads on a shoelace are my earliest memory of making something short of paper and crayons. There’s something so essential, so fundamental in stringing beads. I was startled by how deep and peaceful I found the process.
I knew that essentially this had to be random. I wanted it to have that “just short of a kaleidoscope” look I saw in the bottom of my Tupperware. It’s just that I never seem to be able to do “random.” I don’t have the artist’s instinctual eye for it--it always comes out looking messy rather than casual.
To compensate, I devised a near-random pattern: two silver beads, then a colored small one (any colored one), then two more silver beads and another small colored bead, then two more silver beads followed by a large colored one. There’s some randomness born of the colored beads, but a bit of pattern for the control freak in me that needs instructions to follow.
I, who make up things--whole novels, and over twenty of them--on a professional scale, can’t make up a random string of beads. What does that say about me? I think it says what I’ve always known; words are my mother-tongue, and yarn is my accent. Beads are a venture outside my basics, like a new cuisine you try occasionally but could never eat every day.
A brief bead-aside here: my very favorite string of beads are the Beads of Courage my son received while in the hospital. Every bead denotes a procedure, a milestone, a challenge, a step in his journey from diagnosis to remission. We dismissed the project as “little kid stuff” and “silly” at first, only to later realize what a powerful memorial it had become. My boy’s strand is over six feet long! My deepest thanks to those who make these lovely beads for kids battling illness.