Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spreading Love with Beads

I adore artisan lamp work beads. Colorful balls of light, each individual, carrying the remnants of the soul of the artist who pours their creative hearts and their sweat into them.  The beads are as unique and individual as the artists themselves.  A reflection of their very best selves, moment by moment in melted and hand formed colored glass. 

I moved from pastel painting into jewelry design about a year ago and it wasn't long until I found what I refer to as "the glass masters".  Moreover, time  has lent itself to the pure delight of friendship born of admiration and appreciation for what these artists lend to other beading artists and metal smiths in the prospect of design using these new gemstones.  It was through one of my new friends, Artist Jan Thompson at  JanZartGlass,   that I heard about Beads of Courage.

I suppose it is every general beaders lament at some point as to the absolute requirement to de-stash.  How one goes about that seems to be limited and vague, but for the lamp work artist there exists an amazing program called Beads of Courage, Art-In-Medicine for Children with Serious Illness.

Here's how it works.  Doctors and hospitals nationwide have implemented this program for children suffering through illnesses that require different and progressive treatment series.  In an amazing integration, children enrolled in the program receive a Bead Guide outlining bead colors related to treatment milestones.  To start, they are presented with a string of beads which spells their names, and a membership card.  After differing treatments, the child is given the appropriate bead color by the provider.

So, if you are a glass Artist, what an awesome way to de-stash!  Just box up those goodies, those crazy experimental color and heart filled gems and send them off to Beads of Courage!  The shipping address and a donation form to print and fill out are here.   They also accept polymer clay beads and even manufactured beads for their Arts-In-Medicine workshops.  Thanks to my friend Jan, and Beads of Courage, I will never have to worry about what to do with my extra beads!

Artist Jan Thompson Bead Ruffle Dance

If you're not a glass artist, there are other ways to get involved.  To sponsor a child is only $25.00 and can be done at Beads of Courage on the Donate/Sponsor page.  If you would like to purchase a bead for donation, there is an Artist Gallery where you can choose something special for a child.  There are also collector beads for sale from the Beads in Space program.  In two shuttle missions, May of 2010 and again in May, 2011, specially created beads were taken into space.  Certificate bearing, limited edition reproduction space beads are also available for sale, with the proceeds going to Beads of Courage.  There are other options too, all outlined at their website. 

Beads have been used throughout the span of history for counting, for trade, to signify royalty.  Now they can be used to support and encourage children who are suffering.  Think of yourself as Johnny Appleseed, and spread some happiness by sending your beads to the Beads of Courage program.  Art which represents the gifts of the heart can heal ourselves, our friends, our children and our communities.

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