Hello everyone! I'm back from my lovely oceanside holiday, and it was absolutely wonderful. So much beautiful inspiration, so many amazing people to share special moments with, and a lot of food for thought. We all need that sometimes - to find a way to plug in, to feel more alive, to get deep into what our hearts need to be happy.
At the moment, my creativity is in one of those 'ebb' phases. Not so much 'flow'. And frankly, I'm ok with that. I've really enjoyed taking the time to reflect. When you're caught up in filling orders, or dreaming up the next best thing, it can be hard to remember to do that. The creative spirit needs time to breathe.
So I've been spending some quality time thinking about the 'little things'. About how crucial those tiny, unassuming, easily overlooked details of life and the world really are. And I think that's what artists do. It's our job to bring attention to the beauty, wonder, and importance of things that are easy to miss... if you look without seeing.
It seems a tad poetic that in my beadmaking life, I've been feeling the most grateful for and inspired by and connected to others by beads that are... little.
I've made thousands of these tiny beads now (my beloved weenie beads!), and I keep coming back to them. During times when I'm feeling a bit untethered, I can always steady myself against the calming repetition of making these simple, tiny beads. One at a time. One after another. Like tying knots between pearls, passing a needle back and forth through tiny seed beads, or soldering links of chain together.
In the beginning, I struggled with the fact that I enjoyed making these beads SO much. Shouldn't I be spending my time making 'important' beads? Big, fancy beads? Really-super-beautiful, technically difficult beads? It was a bit agonizing, really.
But as I started to send the weenie beads off into the universe, I very quickly realized that I needed to rethink my ideas about what makes a handmade bead 'important'. I saw people using them in the most beautiful, clever, creative ways, and I'm so happy (and proud!) that I get to play a part in that.
Karin Grosset-Grange of Ginkgo et Coquelicot created these beautifully serene earrings - "inspired by the hidden treasures of the sea, a ship at the bottom of the ocean, maybe..." using two pairs of my tiny weenie beads, along with gorgeous headpins from Genea Beads:
Angela Gruenke of Contents Jewelry does the most amazing things with metal, and here, she used a tiny etched pair of grey weenie beads to create these fantastical earrings, full of movement and energy:
As I'm sure you are guessing, I could share weenie bead creations with you all day, but just one more - from Sarah Ostriyznick of Sarah O Creations. Timelessly elegant, these feel so perfect for fall! She used a pair of etched transparent olive weenie beads, perfectly complementing the stunning ceramic disks by Mari Carmen of Majoyoal:
I've absolutely fallen in love with the fact that there are so many wonderfully tiny handmade beads out there, and I'm willing to bet that you already have a few in your collection that could use some attention! Perhaps you'll be inspired to have a dig through the bead stash (or do some shopping) a bit later...
In celebration of small, here are some of my favorites. First, these 'Mini Round' ceramic beads by Robyn Cove of Ragged Robyn. The colors and the textures of these beads... the lovely hand-formed, organic shapes... Just absolutely bursting with life, aren't they?
As I was putting my thoughts together about this whole 'tiny but mighty' bead thing, I discovered via her Facebook page that Robyn had been working on listing a whole pile of new work, including this set. I managed to borrow a moment of her time during a busy update day to get her take on things. Robyn said,
"Small beads are what make the more elaborate designs blend and work with other components, especially with my work; the painted surfaces seem to really need a smaller bead with a similar finish elsewhere on the piece. I adore making the small ones because they continue to change throughout the making process. It's the small beads that absorb me into the jewellery making because they can look so different when paired with other colors or textures. I gather them around me in bowls and baskets when making jewellery and scatter them out next to the big pendants to see what ones highlight the more subtle aspects of the work. They are ever changing."
Let's hear it for small beads!!
How about these gorgeous ceramic 'Seed Beads' from Bulgarian art bead maker Nadia Karapencheva of NadiaTerra?
The beautiful, soft, subtle surface treatment is engobe (a white or colored slip / liquid clay - and YES, I definitely had to Google that!) fired at 1200 degrees Celcius. Nadia says, "The material is timeless, is not affected by sunlight, water, heat..." and perhaps that is part of the reason that these beads have such a grounded, soothing quality about them. As a glass beadmaker, I'm so drawn to their warmth!
I'll leave you for today with these incredibly beautiful, tiny ceramic beads from Kylie Parry of Kylie Parry Studios, who will surely be familiar to many of you. She made these after returning from an inspiring trip to Costa Rica. Reading her blog post about this series of work absolutely took my breath away - I could nearly smell the earth and the trees and the forest as I looked at her beautiful photographs...
Before I go, a confession.
Most artists wouldn't choose the 'in hand' photo as their favorite way to show off their work. Typically, it's meant to be useful - a way of communicating the size of the object(s). Of course I chose these photos, in part, to show that these are some seriously beautiful, seriously SMALL beads! Our eyes need a sense of scale so our brains can process these things.
But there's more to it than that. So much more. When I look at these beads - in my hand, Robyn's hand, Nadia's hand, Kylie's hand - I'm reminded of what is SO special about them, and I get a little excited about it.
So yes. A ruler does the job. Or a coin, that works too. But I'm in favor of showing off your stained, dry, scarred, bashed up, wrinkly, paint-covered hands. Because - they're beautiful.
They made something.
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i n s t a g r a m : @jules_sontag