it’s o f f i c i a l

It’s MARCH. Whoa. Am I the only one wondering how the heck that happened? I love March because I feel like spring is ‘officially’ just around the corner. The light has been brighter for a while, but the word ‘March’ kind of spells relief.

You know what I was thinking though? Pretty soon it’s going to be SOOOOOOOOO freaking hot in my studio while I’m torching. I don’t know if you remember but I said I would not truly complain about the winter cold, or wish it away, not even once (because it’s so lovely to work without sweat pouring down my face…) and I didn’t. Not once. And it is COLD in the winter in Edmonton. Real cold.

Come spring and summer, all bets are off. There WILL be a lot of howling up in here when the temperature starts to climb.

Today will be my first day back at the torch post-vacation. I’m mostly caught up on all the non-torching stuff. The plan is to spend one or two days working on some new things to send to Beads of Courage. It will help me get back in the swing of things, and I get to do some good at the same time. If you don’t know about Beads of Courage, it’s a beautiful arts-in-medicine program that provides beads to seriously ill children in hospital, to help them stay strong and to honor their journey. http://www.beadsofcourage.org

I love to donate beads when I can, and in the past what I’ve done is a ‘one-for-one’ system. Whenever I sell a ‘cutesy’ bead – a ladybug or a turtle, for example, I donate one just like it to BOC. July 18 Beads of Courage envelope

I’ve done some other fun things too 🙂 The hungry caterpillar…Sept-26-beads-of-courage-caterpillar

Crazy butterflies….Sept-26-beads-of-courage-crazy-butterflies

Wise owl…Sept-26-beads-of-courage-owl

And fun, bright, bumpy beads…Sept-26-beads-of-courage-set

It’s fun for me to take some time out once in a while to make things that are really outside my comfort zone. I am NOT a sculptural beadmaker, that is for sure. But when I make beads for kids I can be for a day 🙂

I loved all those beads, and I’m sure they were appreciated, but I was thinking… what kinds of beads do the kids actually WANT? What kinds of beads are they really hoping for?

I’m not totally up (down?) with what’s cool these days, since I’m not a parent, or a teacher, or someone who spends a lot of time with the younger set. But I was curious. I hadn’t seen a good list of recent requests anywhere, so I put out a plea on Facebook the other day.

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The response was amazing!! There were over 70 replies, mostly from parents of the amazing, brave BOC kids. I wanted to share a few of them, to give you a glimpse into the value of this special organization and what it means to the parents of the children who participate.

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And man, ideas, ideas, ideas! No shortage of inspiration! Parents are full of good ideas. Fellow beadmakers, take note!

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[As a side note – I wondered about the legalities of making and donating beads that feature copyrighted/trademarked characters like Spiderman, Mine Craft, Elmo, Minions, etc… and had a little chat with someone from BOC about it. There was no ‘official’ answer, though the feeling (and my feeling too) is that if you are gifting them to the program, and not selling them (which is a BIG BIG NO-NO), that is ok.]

Some things are hard to find, I think because they’re REALLY hard to make! I hope that someone out there will take up this challenge:

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At the end of the day, I was feeling very humbled that I’m able to make a small contribution to such a special thing. I’m always saying that beads are never ‘just beads’ and if this doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

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EACH one of those beads – every single one – represents a treatment, a procedure, or a milestone in little Luke’s journey to recovery. More than 1400, and this adorable little guy is 2 years old. Now, that is BRAVE. That is COURAGE.

If you’re a beadmaker – I highly recommend donating some of your time to this amazing program. Making beads that are used to create beautiful jewelry is very special and very rewarding, but knowing that your bead is being held by a child lying in a hospital bed, helping them heal… Well… that is beyond words.

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Feeling teary? Me too.

If you are thinking of donating beads, it could not be more easy. All the guidelines are covered in detail right here: http://www.beadsofcourage.org/pages/donatebeads.html. There are a few little technical things that you need to know about what kinds of beads are allowed (ie. no unencased silver glass, no ‘sticky-outy’ bits that could break off, preferred hole size, etc.).

For the Canadians in the crowd, there is a Beads of Courage Canada website that you can visit for information on where to send your bead donations! Click here: http://www.beadsofcourage.ca

If you are not a beadmaker, you can show your support too! BOC has a ‘Beads From a Distance’ program, which provides beads to children who are not located in major centers where the program operates. From time to time I donate a portion of sales to this program, and customers and friends have matched those donations, which is amazing 🙂 It’s an easy, 5 minute process to make a donation:

https://www.crowdrise.com/BOCGivingTuesday/fundraiser/beadsofcourage

Don’t forget, if you’re a fan of Amazon, you can shop through their ‘Amazon Smile’ program to support your favorite charity. Beads of Courage included!

Well, I’m inspired! And motivated to make some fun things. I guess I’d better get busy!

Wishing you a joyful, creative, inspired month of March.

xo

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one for one

July-11-beads-of-courage-bug-and-turtle

It’s me, back to the cute beads again. You probably know all about my weird relationship with cute beads. I blogged about it a while ago (here) so I won’t bore you with the details again.

I think I’ve finally found a way to make peace with those gosh-darn-it-they’re-so-cute little critters. From this day on, they’ll be made not just for their ability to make people smile, but also, for their ability to – well – make people smile. Hear me out.

It’s always nice to feel like you can give something back to the world. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do to in that department. Looking at various charities… reading… thinking… waiting for something to grab me. After thorough exploration of the options, I realized that what I was looking for was right in front of me.

I like and appreciate and support businesses who’ve worked some kind of charitable giving into the way they do things. One model that I really like is the ‘one for one’ approach. When someone buys something, the company gives one to someone in need. TOMS does it with their (awesome) shoes. Warby Parker does it with their (awesome) glasses.

You might be thinking, who really NEEDS a bead? Well, actually, there are people who do. Brave little people, undergoing treatment for serious illnesses in hospital, need beads. There is a wonderful program called Beads of Courage that provides beads to these children in an effort to support and encourage them, and to celebrate milestones in their treatment. More information on the program is available at their website here: http://www.beadsofcourage.org. There are a lot of different facets to what they do for the kids, their families, and for health care providers involved in their treatment, but the basic description is as follows:

“The Program is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen children and families coping with serious illness. Through the program children tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path. Upon enrollment each child is given the Beads of Courage bead color guide with a detachable membership card. Their Beads of Courage journey begins when each child is first given a length of string and beads that spell out their first name. Then, colorful beads, each representing a different treatment milestone are given to the child by their professional health care provider to add to their Beads of Courage collection throughout their treatment as determined by the Beads of Courage Bead Guide (available from Beads of Courage, Inc.)
The Beads of Courage® Program is available for the following:
  • Cancer and Blood Disorders
  • Cardiac Conditions
  • Burn injuries
  • Neonatal ICU Families
  • Chronic Illness

The amazing thing about this program is that the most special beads that the kids receive are handmade by glass beadmakers. Those of us who love beads know that there is a certain kind of joy that comes from adding something new and special to your collection. Imagine if you were lying in a hospital bed, being poked and prodded and monitored and fussed over, feeling crappy and sad… and then… and THEN… somebody brought you a whole bunch of cool handmade glass beads to choose from?

The thought of that kind of makes chills go down my spine!

So, from now on, whenever you purchase a ‘cute’ Uglibead, I’ll donate one just like it to the Beads of Courage program.

One for one.

And double the smiles 🙂