The Magic of Making

I imagine we beaders feel similarly – take our beading away and our bead-i-ful smiles turn frowny! LOL I’ve often wondered, what is this human draw to handiwork?

Beaded Bead Tassel by Cath Thomas
Beaded Bead Tassel by Cath Thomas

So, I did a wee bit of research. It turns out that the earliest evidence of beadwork dates from about 75,000 years ago. These earliest beads were made of snail shells, deliberately pierced. (Which led me to think – the lowly bead has evolved, but basically, it’s still an itty bitty pierced thingey!)

By contrast, cave paintings date to 40,000 years ago, the sewing of garments dates to 20,000 years ago, and pottery dates back only 18,000 years.

We bead lovers have a claim to historical fame in the emergence of creative arts. High five!

Back to the question of why humans are drawn to handiwork.

More research and I learned what I already know: creating with our hands puts us into a meditative state, suspends anxious thoughts, absorbs our brains with something healthier than ruminating, fuming, and agitating (likely about the state of the world these days, sigh!).

Rainbow Hoop Earrings by Susan Sunde

Handiwork makes us feel calm. Prisoners who are taught knitting or cross stitch, for example, use words such as “transforming, brings light into darkness” about the art of creating something with their hands. That is the power of handiwork: it makes us feel good! At least it’s one of the reasons we humans love to create.

Necklace Happy by Akke Jonkhof

If you need beading motivation, check out a wonderful online resource of free beading patterns, a few of which are featured in this blog, from the UK-based Beadworkers Guild. It’s part of the Guild’s International Beading Week activities. New patterns have been added to this free collection every year since 2015! A sincere thanks to The Beadworkers Guild for permission to post photos from their collections, with tribute to the contributing designers

And just for fun, here’s a link to another UK resource – a TED Talk by Mr. X-Cross, a fellow who discovered cross stitch embroidery and is on a mission to share the power of handiwork.

Be(ad) calm!! Cathy

(Originally published July 31, 2022)

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