Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bead Benefits

Sterling Silver Shark Tooth Brushed Italian Bead

I've always found beads and jewelery making strongly therapeutic. The focus washes away all worries and I come out of each design session feeling strangely more refreshed and lucid. However, it wasn't until recently that I received some confirmation of the benefits of beads and the girls made little bracelets to keep. It was a hit and they had lots of fun. The beads were very inexpensive, and I was almost appalled they used plastic beads and poorly painted wooden beads. The parents thought it was the best and the kids were thrilled. The bead snob in me decided to show them what good beads look like, and I was going to outdo everyone with the best sterling clasps look like, I thought I could teach them how to finish their own pieces properly. So, it wasn't a bead party that would end all bead parties.

There was a brother (age 6) and sister (age 8) who were part of the group that came out. I actually didn't invite the brother even though he was my daughter's best friend. I naturally assumed that he would not be interested because his parents seemed so gender conservative and dressed him mainly in greens and blues. He had also declined attending parties which my daughter didn't go because he didn't want to be the only boy. My daughter is a tom girl, so he feels she doesn't count as a girl. Anyhow, his mother asked if she could bring him. I was embarrassed of my assumption and wholeheartedly welcomed them. But I brought out my daughter's collection of shark's teeth fossils, boxier sterling clasps and thick leather, just in case if the beads don't go over very well. The boy's mother is a neurologist at the Sick Children's Hospital, i.e. a brain specialist. His father is a paediatric heart specialist at the same hospital. So, they're really into the development of children. While the children are engrossed in the platters full of beads, the mother told me why she encourages her son to do beading. In fact, she has beads at home and she had read many studies that point to the benefits of bead counting and sorting for a child's brain development. Not only will it improve their mathematical skills, it helps develop patience. It also has calming effects on hyperactive children. The size of the beads should vary inversely with the children's age for safety, of course. The little boy is brilliant and very patient. However, I don't know if that has got more to do with genetics than just a lot of bead sorting.

The session was a smash and the mothers were intrigued, and rather dazzled by the array of glass beads, crystals, pearls and stone beads. I find that an easy finish for the bracelets were the lobster clasp . Or for slightly older children and limited budget, one might consider the larger spring ring clasp.

You can certainly contribute to the well being of your friends and family. The necklace making party only took about 2 hours, but it was great for them. The moms wanted to offer money so I'd hold it again. The kids didn't want to go. So, it was worthwhile. I'd recommend larger shell beads. Czech crystals are great. Stringing material can simply be elastic for the little ones.

By the way, the pirate's necklace with the shark tooth was amazing. I used 22 ga sterling wire and wrapped around the tooth, ending in a loop for leather to go through. I think he will treasure the necklace forever.

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