The Bead That Binds ...

By Cheryl Koontz, Beading Enthusiast

Across all craft media there is one common thread--or should I say, bead. More and more, you are seeing beads pop up in the most unusual places. Scrapbookers seem to be the most notorious bead users. I popped into my local craftstore on a Thursday night to pick up one last item I needed to finish a project. As I wandered the aisles, I noticed a mother and daughter in one of the scrapbooking aisles. They were throwing these wonderful embellishment kits into their basket. While I was pretending to look at other items nearby, I stood back and watched them. I was shocked at how many of the items they were choosing had beads in them. They were cooing and giggling about what scrapbooking project they were going to use this or that for; this created such excitement for someone who is in the "beading business."

Scrapbooking seems to be one of those crafts that is cross generational. As crafts come and go, pictures and the warm, fuzzy feelings we get from them carry us through the darkest times. In our post 9/11 world, home and everything about it is pulling us together. As I watched this mother and daughter, I could take myself back to my youth. During that time, my mother's medium of choice was yarn: she crocheted up a storm. I started to think about some of the craft media that I enjoy and crocheting has been one of them. Yet, once again that little bead rears its ugly head--with all the new books over the past few months (Knit and Crochet with Beads by Lily Chin is one of my favorites), I have used beads to make some beautiful crocheted pieces.

Beads seem to work with multiple media because of the size and versatility. You can always add that little bit of sparkle to anything; who doesn't like a little bling? Scrapbookers use charms, seed beads and multiple findings just to name a few. The fiber crafts use similar products, but they seem to be a little more adventurous. Scrapbooking is a fairly young craft; although we have always saved our pictures, the art of embellishment is new. The fiber arts, however, have been around since, well, forever. This is the reason for the adventurous nature of the fiber artist: with age comes the ability to let go.

I now look at my daughter; she is just beginning her journey into the artistic world. I have exposed her to the various craft media that I have explored and enjoyed over the years. It seems that beads are the common thread. She--of course, loves jewelry and is beginning her adventure into the beading realm. This is the ''bead that binds.'' As I stood there, watching this mother and daughter and the growing excitement over their scrapbooking finds, I realized that beads are enjoyed by everyone, no matter the generation.

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