Friday 4 May 2018

A glimpse into my crazy

Yesterday was a bit of a meh shed day. I just couldn't seem to get going. I had a colour combination all sorted and I knew what I wanted to make but my brain and hands were engaged in some kind of conflict, as described in this tweet:

Applying a trail of fine stringer in a spiral around a bead is a pretty straightforward technique and it's one that I've done thousands of times, but yesterday it just wasn't working. Well, it was, but as far as my brain was concerned, it wasn't working correctly.

I've written umpteen times about how picky I am with my work. Every time I do, people leave lovely comments and assure me that my work is fine and that the beads are handmade and they're not supposed to be 'perfect' and all that. I put the word 'perfect' in inverted commas then because I've personally never described my work as such. I'm a perfectionist, yes, but in the sense that I try to make a bead as best as I can possibly make it; I'm not actually striving for absolute perfection.

Yesterday, I tried and tried to make a 'correct' spiral bead and after the five failed attempts which ended up in the water jug – and that's not counting the attempts that didn't make it past the base bead or encasing stage, then through to the stringer application one – I eventually made the spiral bead I was after. I did put three not-quite-right attempts in the kiln, though, as I knew I wanted to write about this ridiculousness in order to give you a glimpse into my crazy.

Here is the 'correct' bead:

And here are the three beads that I rejected but didn't kill:

At first glance, these three probably look alright. Chris did his usual "WHAT? They're absolutely fine. Get them sold, missus!" about them. But no, they're not leaving the house. You might be able to see why I rejected them, but if not, I'll explain. From left to right...

The first bead was rejected because the spiral is not 'tight' enough; the gaps between the wraps are too wide apart for my liking.

The second bead is okay stringer-wise but the base bead has an irksome glitch in it where the grey glass did a striation thing.

The third bead was rejected as it just doesn't look balanced to my eye. I also wasn't happy with where I melted the stringer off; the tail end on the left hand side isn't close enough to the bead hole.

So what am I trying to illustrate with this post? Am I writing it to get an "Oh, Laura, you're such a perfectionist" reaction? Or am I in some way being superior, trying to say that I'm so pernickety – far more pernickety – than other beadmakers? No, absolutely not. I'm trying to show you that this is why I say no so much. It's why I say no to commissions and no to remakes. If I can spend so very long trying to make what is a very basic-looking bead, which I will sell for about three quid (you do the laughable maths there; minimum wage doesn't come anywhere near it) how can I possibly commit to commissions and remakes?

Am I complaining? No. Because this is just how my brain works. It's what makes my beads my beads. Is there a medical term for my prohibitive bead pickiness? Probably, yes. Is it tied up with all the other annoying things my brain puts me through like my constant anxiety and my awkwardness when doing general life things? Almost definitely. I accepted these annoying aspects of my me-ness  long ago; some days I struggle with them, but other days I embrace them. Just as these complicated brain quirks make my beads my beads, they also make me me, and I kind of like that.

Today I'm intending to finish the set that this spiral bead is part of. Will it happen? I'll keep you posted...


  1. That was absolutely fascinating to read Laura, thanks! As you say, that's what makes your beads 'you', and if handmade beads can't be a refection of who you are, what's the point ? (unless for pure commercial gain I suppose, but if that was your sole purpose, who would choose to MAKE BEADS?! Just explalns why my own beads are chaotic & unstructured, and why I have thousands!! ) Thanks for posting :)

  2. I totally understand - if it's not right, it's not right...

  3. I am in awe of your skill... I long ago realised I will never make beads as “perfect” as yours - I wish I could but it’s never going to happen, so I go organic instead and have fun in a different way. I really love your beads though! 😊


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