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Monday, February 21, 2011

Beautiful Beads

A couple of months ago I bought beads from Beads for Life, an organization that teaches Ugandan women how to make beads and other products, giving them a way to earn real money for themselves and their families. It's exactly the kind of program I like (see also microloans, which I think can offer direct, tangible results that cannot always happen with large-scale charities, institutions, and governments [not that those aren't also capable of good]), and anything that helps women around the world and provides me with pretty beads is win-win.

I bought the assortment of multi-colored beads (why have one color when you can have many?). These are rolled paper beads, a technique that's been around for a while. Many moons ago I went to a private school for grade school, which was run on a trimester basis. The three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas were a mini term, with a different schedule and classes focused on a particular topic such as the Medieval era. When I was in fourth grade, the topic was ancient Egypt, and one of our activities was making paper beads by cutting long skinny triangles out of magazines, rolling them around toothpicks, and gluing them. I loved it, of course, but I found the colors from the magazines too muted for my taste. I don't know what this had to do with ancient Egypt, but I wish I'd kept those beads.

Yesterday I made a necklace from an assortment of the beads, interspersed with cheapo, light-weight brass beads:
It is long enough to wear wrapped once or twice around my neck, or four times around my wrist.

Beadboy2 became fascinated with the project, and even helped pick out some of the beads, so today I helped him make necklaces using black cotton cord and a heap of plastic beads. For himself:
For his pre-school teacher:
He got overly-ambitious, and started necklaces for Beadboy1 and several of his friends, but after he knocked over the box of beads I called an end to the activity.

(The colors in the pictures are washed out, which is driving me nuts. This happens sometimes with my camera, and recharging the battery didn't seem to make a difference this time. I hope this doesn't mean I need a new camera.)


  1. I love these beads!! A colleague sold some already-made necklaces from a similar organization. I wear one of the necklaces I bought all of the time. It would be fun to play with the beads to make something myself. Your necklace is lovely!!!

  2. Thanks! I do recommend getting the assortment if you are interested -- you get an awful lot of beads, enough to make several necklaces or lots of bracelets. They also have instructions on how to host a "bead party" for one's friends.