Bead Therapy / by Susie Lubell

Necklace

I have a favorite necklace that kind of looks like this one except it's very, very long and the glass beads are smaller. I bought it for a dollar in Manikaran, India, a small town in the Parvati Valley (far north), well known for it's geothermal activity and a sacred spot for the Sikh population. We were there in 2001 and my clearest memory is going to the public bathhouse where I stood out like, well, a naked white girl in an Indian bathhouse. So when I left the bathhouse I went to the marketplace and found a few things to help me fit in better - about thirty glass bangles and the necklace. It might have worked if I could have stacked the glass bangles all the way up my arms, around my neck and up both legs, so that no one could see my casper white skin. Alas, I still received many stares. And I sounded like a wind chime.

In Santa Fe, at my favorite store, they had a bin with glass beads for $3 a scoop. I got three scoops with the idea that I would maybe make a similar necklace or several (three scoops is a lot), even though I'd never done any bead or wire work in my life. Except for once when I was 16.  I feel a tangent coming on...

Friendship pins (safety pins with beads on them) were big back in 1989 and my friend Andrea and I made a lot of them. So many that we started stringing them through elastic and making them into bracelets. And then we started selling them at the children's bookstore where I worked part time. And one day a lady came in and wanted to buy thirty of them for her daughter's birthday party! So we made thirty and it took forever and our fingers bled and she only paid us $120 which, at the time, we thought was a TON of money even though it was essentially about $2 an hour but then we didn't talk to each other for like two months and it was kind of a disaster. Soon after, Macy's started selling similar items for about $40 each. Let this be a lesson to you readers. ALWAYS PATENT YOUR IDEAS. Our company was called Cheesy Beads. I promise this will tie together in a second...

Lately I have been in a creative rut, feeling a little strangled by my watercolors.  So today, I went to the bead store two blocks from my house with my India necklace and my pile of Santa Fe glass beads and high hopes that a little wire and bead work might kickstart my creativity. The guy at the store sold me a round nose pliers, a bunch of eye wires and a clasp and sent me home to look at You Tube for instructions. Which is what I did. And here is my necklace which, on me, is more of a choker, ironically, but in the bigger picture, might just be what I needed to open up the flood gates.