I have always had an irresistible interest in crafts of any kind – knitting, macramé, basket-weaving, etc. For the last two years, upon retirement as the CVI STARS program director, my interest in craft projects expanded to include jewelry making, which is a skill that has proven to be extremely creative and challenging. The first thing I had to do was find an instructor who could teach me the craft. She was easy to find, since she is the same art teacher that I used for the STARS program, Linda Seay. She has many years of experience working with and teaching art to the visually impaired. I contacted Linda who agreed to teach a 4-session course in my home. To keep the cost low, I rounded up several neighbors to enroll in the class along with me.
I discovered right away that this craft was extremely visual and that I would have to come up with creative ways of handling and finding tactually the tiny beads. I also discovered that the more expensive beads are easier to handle as far as locating the wholes for stringing as well as for beautifying a piece. Variety in beads and spacers enhance pieces allowing for better creativity in design. When selecting beads, I always have a sighted shopper along with me, be it my daughter or another jewelry designer. I touch the beads to determine whether the shape and texture are what I am looking for, or what I like. Also, I select some colors based on what customers are asking for. When I finish making pieces, I store them in Ziplock jewelry bags and show them to friends or family members who are visiting. I give away a lot of it as gifts, or as a means of advertising.
To stimulate my creativity and shop for the best bead products, I attend national bead shows, which come to the Atlanta area often. I walk around examining jewelry designs by craftsmen and purchasing materials at a lower price and with a wider selection. Sometimes, I sign up for a booth selling my own jewelry.
When I first started this journey I was working with fish line to string the beads, but today I am working with wire and chain as well. I have also graduated from single strands to multiple strand pieces. I am making necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pins, barrettes, and more. It’s a grand hobby!