Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Successful Beading


While I was waiting for the train, which is actually a bus (it's complicated, as they say on Facebook), to Tacoma in Bellingham, I made a bracelet out of beads for someone I've known a long time. I'd ambled past many a bead-shop before, but this was my first venture into one of the shops.

I didn't have a lot of time before the train left, so I set a brisk pace as I selected beads and politely pressured the person in charge of the shop to show me how to put a bracelet together. I had the sense my speed-beading was not a customary part of bead-culture. I chose beads of a similar color--light brown, tan, burnt umber, that sort of thing. And I chose three different kinds of beads and arranged them in a pattern, a kind of visual representation of Morse Code--a simple repetition of a simple series. I also went with the wire, not the nylon string.

Crimping proved to be a huge challenge because I couldn't see what I was doing, even with glasses on. I think next time I'll make a gigantic necklace.

People usually pretend to like something you make for them yourself more than they pretend to like something you bought for them, in my experience.

I predict bead-shops will thrive in this economy, which is starting to take on Herbert Hooverish characteristics. I'm not sure Bush even knows what country he's presiding over, but I digress.

According to the OED online, "bead," spelled "byd" and then "bede," originally donated "prayers," and if I'm inte-preting things correctly, it had nothing to do with prayer beads. "Bead," as referring to a small object with a hole in it (for stringing) didn't come into the written language until about 1377, whereas bead (bede) as prayer came in about 855.

It's too bad "beady eyes" is now a cliche. It's not a bad description.

I know what "draw a bead on" means with regard to sighting something and shooting at it, but I'm not sure precisely how the metaphor was supposed to have worked originally. A lot depends upon "draw," which can mean to pull but which can also mean to mark. So maybe the phrase meant to mark, figuratively, a bead on the target; or maybe it meant that once you shot a hole in the target, you would have, so to speak, drawn (marked) a bead (a wee circular image) on the target. I think it's too much of a stretch to link "draw a bead" to the tiny sphere that used to be on the front sight of some rifles; one would visually place that "bead" in the notch of the front sight and align both with the target.

Luckily, beading is now a completely nonviolent pursuit, although I suppose patrons of a bead-shop could get into a bead-throwing fight, but judging by the customers I saw in the Bellingham shop, this is unlikely to happen.

I do have to improve on my crimping skills, meaning I have to bring a magnifying glass next time. My eyesight has become too beady. The bracelet had to be recrimped, I guess because there was a crimp in its style, nyuk, nyuk, but everything is fine now.

In any event, I encourage all poets and readers of poetry to try to make something out of beads. In some ways, a line of poetry is like a string of beads, yes?
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