The Special Language of Beads

Mothers and daughters and bracelets have been a theme for me at Harlequin Beads and Jewelry lately.

The other day a woman comes into the store, and she has her back to me when I come to greet her. I say hello in my best cheerful voice. No response. I think, well, that’s odd, perhaps she doesn’t realize I’m talking to her, so I try again. Nothing. Hmm… maybe she just doesn’t want to be interrupted in her thoughts?

Well, then she turns around and sees me, and her face lights up. She is deaf.

I love communication challenges like this – it’s so stimulating to use other ways to talk about beads besides verbal communication, and I talk a lot with my hands anyway. Beading definitely has its own sort of sign language, and I’m pretty fluent in it. Also it’s apparent this woman lip-reads very well and speaks understandably. So this is going to be fun!

She wants to make her daughter a bracelet to express and celebrate their bond, and this is the first time she’s going to try beading, so we write a lot of notes to each other to find out more of what she has in mind. We find some word beads to incorporate “love” and “joy” into the bracelet.

We go over to our Swarovski crystal mixes. These are great bicone mixes of Swarovski colors that the staff comes up with, and there is always a combination that is just right. The mixes come in the perfect amount of beads to make a bracelet, making them really handy for beginners to choose from without getting overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of color combinations.

Harlequin's custom-designed Swarovski crystal bead mixes

The woman chooses a purple and green mix – one of my favorites. Together we select a clasp, and I attach it to some Soft Flex for her to begin stringing her pattern.

She sits down and strings up the crystals, interspersing the word beads at even intervals. It looks so pretty! By the time I finish attaching the other side of the clasp for her, she picks out another Swarovski mix that has inspired her to make a matching bracelet for herself. Now she and her daughter have matching, meaningful, handmade bracelets to wear and always remind them of a mother’s love.

All this is accomplished with notes, hand gestures, and smiles! It was so fun to work with someone without speaking a lot, to really focus on each other’s facial expressions and gestures and notes. Most of the time, beads speak for themselves, and it is good to slow down and be reminded of that.

by Nome

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