Great News – About Playing for Change

I promised myself I would write something in each of my blogs before I opened any of my e-mails. As always, I opened my emails first. But this time I’m glad I followed my usual pattern of morning coffee and emails. This time I found an email from ‘Playing for Change.’

That’s one of the charities I subscribe to: building peace through music. They are almost ready to open their first music school/recording studio: the Ntonga Music School in the township of Gugulethu, South Africa. 

Why have I chosen to follow this foundation instead of so many other worthy causes? Because I am a failed music student: I studied piano for about 15 years and came away hating the piano. Even today, I choose classical music that is distinctly non-piano. But the experience did give me a love of good music. That’s what is so wonderful: there are all kinds of good music. And these music schools teach good music.

There is music in all of us ~ we just need a way to express it. I have chosen to express my music through needlework and artisan jewellery. Playing for Change does it through music. It offers a safe environment and the tools (education, instruments, recording equipment) to produce the music. While developing the distinct style of each area, it is offering an alternative to bloody war, sectarianism and hatred. Indeed, this group, Playing for Change, is making a difference in the world. It is making this world a better place in which to live.

At least, that’s what I think.


Notes to Self: A New Direction

Well, I did vent some hot air in my last Notes to Self: Bead Journal Project. I felt better after doing it, so the venting did some good. I still don’t apologize for the bombardment. If anything, I am grateful for the individuals who challenged the worthiness of my September bracelet submission.

The Spanish Bracelet that WON

The Winning Bracelet

The bracelet that didn't pass

The losing bracelet


It made my brain work ~~ always a painful process. Well, for me it is.

I have over 40 years of experience in the needlework arena. I don’t sew, and it takes me months to get around to replacing buttons that have disappeared into the recesses of coat pockets. But I do use needle and some form of ‘thread’ and I embellish, using many different techniques.

An embellishment in its own right, glass bead artisan jewellery when well done invites compliments and conversation. And it takes humble things, like wire, and makes something beautiful using many different techniques.

It is the marriage of embroidery techniques and my version of glass bead artisan jewellery techniques. What is born of this union is the Tips and Techniques thread I started some little while ago and have been ignoring shamelessly. It has been given a new lease on life.

So. I’ve decided to thank the naysayers for shedding light upon my path. They gave me lemons and I’ve given you lemon meringue pie.  MMMMM~Good.

Yours in beads ~~Helene

Design Play – Introduction

Hiya, all. We are starting a new class. Today we begin playing with design. I am going to share some of the things I’ve observed, some things I’ve been taught myself, and some things I’ve learned all by myself.

We will be discussing colour and texture. And we will be discussing shapes and spaces. There will be exercises to help unblock ‘designer’s block’ – you know, the same as writer’s block only relating to design.

By the end of this class, made up of however many lessons are needed, you should be able to draw on your own imagination and apply some rules to it and be left with a reasonable piece, ready to be worked.

These lessons can be used no matter what your milieu. They are  equally useful to needlework and to beading, to fashion design and interior decoration, to anything at all.

Questions? Comments? Please add your observations to this set of lessons: it helps make the classes more interesting.

That’s it for now –    … Helene …