Sunday, August 09, 2009

Made by hand

I love having around me things that were made by someone's hand. Things made by machine certainly have their place, especially when you need something smooth, easy to clean and utilitarian, but the things that really lift my heart are almost always things made by hand. Art, craft—whatever you want to call it, I like the spirit of handmade things. I thought I might share some of my favorite handmade things here and invite you to share yours.

These beads were made by my daughter from polymer clay. She went through a phase of beadmaking as a teenager. It was a stressful time for her and I think—or maybe I'm projecting my own way of dealing here—that it was calming to work with the clay, create the tiny patterns. I remember during this time she asked me once what I would like for Christmas and I said I would love a necklace made from some of her beads. The necklace she made for me is beautiful, but I was a little disappointed that it was so tasteful and the beads all perfectly matched and coordinated. What I really liked were the random, mismatched beads that you see above. (To give you an idea of scale, the largest ones are about an inch in diameter.)

She stopped making beads, went off to college, traveled, came home, went to graduate school, traveled, came home, moved into the adult world and the beads were forgotten. About 8 years ago she spent some time with us and went through boxes we had stored, getting rid of old clothes and papers and things she no longer wanted or needed. After she left I was emptying wastebaskets and saw the string of beads in the basket from her room, tangled among old papers and notebooks. I pulled them out and hung them on a doorknob. They now hang on the doorknob to my work room and I often stop to handle them and admire the patterns and color. Like so many things, each bead by itself is nice, but not especially notable. It is when they are strung together like this that they take on a life and richness that pleases my eye so much.

It didn't surprise me that my daughter had thrown them out. I'll never know what meaning, if any, they held for her. But probably the enjoyment of making them was what counted for her. But, for me, I'm glad I saw them before they were gone forever.


  1. Oh, this is excellent! I have worked with polymere clay since my teenage times, but my things were primitive, compared with what she does. A truly admirable piece. I can tell, I know the technique.

  2. I love the wisdom of a Mom.

  3. Pretty. The colors are very you. Good for you for saving the beads you loved, even if your daughter had moved on.

  4. I see my own first-year-of-college-bound daughter needing to work in a creative area too now. [she is making jewelery from 'found' things she can take apart and use the innards for, like clocks, computer hard drives, etc. times have changed a bit, in that respect.]

  5. The beads are beautiful ... I cherish every little thing my son makes for me.

  6. Hello,
    just found your blog and popped in to say hello. I love those beads and I bet one day when your daughter is older she will revisit
    this craft or teach her children how to do it. I adore beads and had never tought about making my own mmmm......
    Just new to blogging please pop over and say hello.

  7. These are such special beads! Now I have a bead question for you and your readers since I know you have a big following of clever people. I promised a little girl at the shelter where I read that the next time I come we will make bead necklaces. Where can I find affordable beads for 10 kids and how should they string them (safe, low hardware requirement, etc.)? I was thinking of trying to get donations from local bead stores. Any ideas? (She had noticed my homemade necklace consisting of a single red wooden bead on a black string.)