Blog: thinking out loud

  • The design emerges....slowly

    I am always looking at patterns and designs; colors, fabrics, scenery, cultural artifacts, advertisements, all are sources of ideas for me. (I know I've mentioned this before.) A few months ago, I saw an advertisement for some enameled jewelry. I don't do enameling, but I liked the swirling patterns and bright colors. What could I do with woven beads?? I admit that the colors are a bit out of my usual range, but they were playful, happy. I thought, why not??

    Next I played with the software I use for woven bead design; the ideas and the particular stitch have to fit with the size of the bracelet I hope to make. Several false starts here; I tossed a couple of designs before settling on this one.

    At this point, the hard work begins. Needle and thread, magnifying lens, weaving the beads, constantly checking to get the pattern right. The blue tape helps keep the beads in line at the start.


    About 15 hours later – stretched over many days – the project is done. I am happy with the result. 

  • Hand of Fatima

    Once again, I vow to post more, in an effort to bring traffic to my website.... sell some more jewelry, and donate additional dollars to Room to Read. The "official" Room to Read perspective is that these dollars are investments rather than donations. Makes sense to me! Room to Read does indeed invest in children and their futures.

    A long time ago, I travelled to Morocco, and was intrigued by the culture and people, captivated by the decorative arts. I brought back a Hand of Fatima pendant and earrings, which I wear to this day. The Hand of Fatima is ancient Middle East protective symbol, defending against evil and bringing health and good fortune, varying slightly in meaning depending on the culture.

    Typically, the hand is stylized, five-fingered, with two symmetrical "thumbs" on either side of the three middle fingers. It appears with the fingers pointing either up or down, sometimes includes an eye in the center of the palm. In Arabic it is called the Hamsa Hand, in Hebrew the Hamesh Hand; depending on the culture it is a reference either to the hand of Fatima, daughter of Mohammed, or Miraim, sister of Moses.

    As I slipped my Hand of Fatima pendant over my head a few weeks ago, I decided to see if I could use the symbol in one of my beaded bracelets. It was a challenge, but I am pretty pleased with the results... always room for improvement. What do you think?

  • A New Leaf

    I have been away from the ecommerce dimension of my jewelry for too long! I am working on a little less perfectionism in published material (not to be confused with the perfectionism that is in full force when I sit at my work bench, planning or creating a piece), and a little more communication and focus on this website, my Etsy site, and my Bead Dreams Design on Facebook.

    Planning the designs and creating new work is a joy. I've had fun with some new ideas over the past months, and hope to share more from the workbench in the future.

    I was pleased with this bangle. It felt good on my arm - light and easy-to-wear. I even stepped away frommy usual subdued color palatte to include .... red. Imagine that! When this piece was finished, I immediately thought of letting it settle on this little ceramic bird, befriended on a long-ago trip to the island of Paros. 

  • I understand Annabelle

    I volunteer in a wonderful school library. One of the many bonuses of my time there is the opportunity to discover new and inspiring books - yes, books written for younger readers can be inspiring. (A plug here for Room to Read, an organization that clearly understands the power that books and reading have for children, and which I support through sales of my jewelry.)

    Recently, the cover of Extra Yarn - the color and texture of the knitted letters - caught my eye. I opened the book and read on, enchanted by the story and the fabulous illustrations. Come what may, Annabelle just keeps on knitting ...for fellow villagers, their pets, village buildings, vehicles - you get the idea. The girl just kept on covering it all with colorful knitting, thanks to an endless supply of yarn.


    I am so NOT a knitter, but I do have this thing for beads. As I wrap my woven beads around hoops, discs, bangles, or wrap the woven beads into other shapes, I think of Annabelle and smile.

  • Fund Raising Goal Met

    When I began this fund-raising effort in August, I had no idea how it would turn out. I set a modest goal..$250, not at all sure I'd be able to do it. Well, I am very happy to say that I did raise that amount, and I was able to accomplish it in less than 9 months. Many thanks to the people who purchased my jewelry and supported this cause.

    I received this email from Room to Read this week. While I've met my first goal, I'll be setting another. I plan to keep investing a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of my jewelry to this amazing organization.

    Thank you also to Kaitlin at Room to Read for helping me give credit to those who contributed via the purchase of my jewelry -

  • New Portland Location

    I was excited to learn that Modo Boutique in Portland was interested in adding some of my pieces to the work of local jewelry artists for sale in their shop. located at 729 East Burnside. They have a great collection of clothes and jewelry - unique styles, current fashion, good selection. Every time I've been in I have been impressed by the quality of the merchandise, and the friendly staff.

    In addition to good shopping at Modo Boutique, that block of East Burnside is home to an excellent coffee shop and there are several restaurants nearby. It's an area worth exploring.

    Who knows whether anything will come of this opportunity, but I am grateful to Myla & Alison for the chance to have some of my pieces in another brick & mortar location in the city. To find out more about Modo Boutique, check out the photos and the link to their website on my Portland locations page.

  • A new year

    A good way to end 2013. . . 

    I was pleased to see sales from just the first 6 months of my efforts have moved me 70% of the way toward my year-long fundraising goal - $250. It's a good feeling.... maybe I'll have to raise the ante.

    A good way to start 2014. . . . 

     What a great place to work! Warm weather, gorgeous scenery... adds to the fun to creating new pieces.



  • Christmas preparations

    Christmas preparations are always crazy, but enjoyable – the familiar too-many-things-to-do, too-little-time scenario. Somehow it all got done, including what you see below. I have been playing around with these tubular shapes and geometric patterns. I really like the play of light - matte and gloss. These beads are so much fun. First one bead, then many.

    One bracelet, then more.

  • Literacy at Home

    Home is Where the Books

      Are I was fortunate to grow up in a home where books and reading were a big part of our lives. We all had cards for multiple libraries. Books were always stacked on the tables and floor; it seemed we were always reading. I remember one summer evening my parents, my sister and I were sitting on our front porch - each of us wrapped up in a book. A neighbor boy walked by, surveyed the scene and said he was sorry that our tv must be broken. Nothing could have been further from the truth. My parents just liked to read, and that love of reading was passed along to us.

      My appreciation of that gift is one of the reasons I am so taken with Room to Read’s efforts to promote literacy, and am donating a portion of my jewelry sales to support their work. My love of books and reading inspired my early career as a school librarian, and these days brings me back to volunteer in a school library every week. I am dazzled by the wonderful array of children’s literature available today - even in our digital age, and heartened to know that kids are still reading and reading good stuff, especially when helped along by parents, grandparents, librarians, and teachers.

      Recently a new resource has arrived for those of us interested in promoting reading and literature with the children in our lives. Friend and former collelague Ruth Shagoury has co-authored a wonderful new book, Home is Where the Books Are: Creating literate spaces, choosing books & why it matters. This thoughtful, useful, and thoroughly enjoyable volume is all about raising readers in the 21st century. There are annotated lists of titles for myriad interests, occasions and developmental levels; rafts of ideas to encourage reading, making it part of the fabric of everyday life with your child - or grandchild. Ruth and her co-author (daughter) challenge preconceptions and assumptions... alphabet books are only for little kids or are valuable in English only. The authors expand our thinking, including book choices for math literacy; they grapple with the thorny issues presented by electronic media; and they present any number of ways to enjoy books and reading with the children in our lives.

      A worthwhile purchase... available at Amazon, and Powell's Books, Portland.

  • Room to Read: Providing opportunities to learn

    Room to Read

      I’ve finished reading John Wood’s second book mentioned in my last post. The stories he shares about the young students he meets are so inspiring. (Why am I writing about this? Besides the fact that this non-profit is an amazing example of good work well done, a percentage of all sales from my jewelry goes to support Room to Read's efforts. During the holiday season, I will be sending them 50% of all sales.) Back to the Room to Read story.........

      In one school in Zambia, girls sleep at the school because the walk home takes hours; they make the journey home only one day each weekend. In South Africa, a young boy was so driven to read and learn, that he collected discarded magazines and books from garbage in wealthy neighborhoods where his mother worked as a maid, so he could improve his reading and learn. He taught himself math using the books he salvaged. In Vietnam, Anh walked to school - 2 hours each way - in ankle deep mud during the monsoon season. Her Room-to-Read scholarship paid for boots and a backpack so she could make the journey in ankle deep mud during the monsoon season.

      His book is full of stories of children and their supportive parents and neighbors who were given the opportunity to collaborate with room to read.

      There are many things about the Room to Read organization that I admire and affirm my decision to support their work. To name a few:

    • Collaboration: Room to Read builds partnerships. It buys the books for a library, the community builds the shelves and/or the school. Any place in the developing world where you find a Room to Read school, library, or scholarship support for students, you know that the community is contributing to the effort in no small way.

    • Evaluation: Room to Read evaluates its programs and makes changes based on what it learns. When students told Room to Read that they wanted books in their native languages, Room to Read worked with writers and illustrators in the countries where they operate to develop a children’s book publishing industry. In 2011, Room to Read was awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy for their efforts: 553 original children’s book titles in 25 different languages and printed more than 4.1 million books in eight countries (Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam). 

    • Fiscal Responsibility: Room to Read has achieved Charity Navigator’s highest 4 star rating for sound fiscal management for seven years in a row. When you make an investment in Room to Read’s programs, 83% of what you give goes to program support. How often have you made a contribution to a non-profit, only to be inundated for requests for additional donations? When that happens to me, it feels as though my contribution is paying for additional solicitations, rather than the actual programs I thought I was helping. That doesn’t happen with Room to Read.