Tuesday, November 12, 2013

7,000 Bracelets of Hope

Hope from Znetshows sent out a little challenge to the designers, asking if we'd consider using some fabulous Znetshows beads to make bracelets for the Global Genes/ RARE project, which is an advocacy organization for individuals with rare and genetic diseases. (Their symbol is a denim ribbon, a play on the word genes.)  Every year, jewelry designers and artists from all over create and donate a bracelet (maybe several bracelets!) for the "7,000 Bracelets of Hope" project, showing support for families affected by (you guessed it) rare and genetic diseases. 

There are a few guidelines...but 0not many; the idea is to create something unique to showcase each designer's aesthetic or "style".  It's a good idea to make something that could fit almost anyone; we have no idea who will end up with our bracelet, and it would diminish the pleasure for the recipient if the bracelet was unwearable.  Also, of course, the main color should be blue.  The designers are encouraged to write a note to the recipient...just a little something from the heart, possibly explaining how we were inspired to make this particular bracelet, and certainly expressing our empathy and support. 

Each of the Znetshows designers was allowed to choose two items, from the sea glass, glass pearl,  and/or crystal lines.  We were supposed to take pictures of our beads before taking them apart to use in our bracelets, and naturally I forgot this step and immediately parted out the strands of beads (in my case, a strand of double-hole sea glass beads in light sapphire blue, and a few strands of mixed blue and clear crystal rondelles).  After my piece was complete, I realized my mistake, and tried to rectify by taking this picture:

There were several other colors of blue crystals (aqua, turquoise, and a super-sparkly almost green color), but upon inspection, I didn't feel that they would set off the gorgeous sapphire blue of the cultured sea glass beads.  And I assure you, this is a picture of just a few of the "leftovers"...my selection of beads was very generous!
I played around a bit, experimented with some antiqued brass beads from my own stash, and liked the combination.  I used two equal lengths of memory wire, and started stringing...oh, the first few inches was torture!  Memory wire is essentially a spring (think of your childhood Slinky toy), and with two separate pieces, the snapping and slapping is doubled.  Painful...seriously.  Anyway.  I added and subtracted, changed things around many times, and finally ended up with a bracelet I loved.  To finish off the ends, I used two pieces of beige silk ribbon from the incredible Marsha Neal, and tied a few little charms to the ends.  Here's what I sent to the Global Genes Project:

And maybe another view...
As the mother of an adult son with autism and severe mental retardation, I have a special place in my heart for families who struggle with diseases and disorders of all types.  My family is one of those families.  For several reasons, I have been convinced for almost 40 years that autism is a genetic disorder...and I believe that medical science is finally coming to that conclusion as well.  When my son was a child, a psychiatrist at Stanford University Hospital told me that I was fooling myself if I believed that Michael recognized me, or had any sort of bond with me other than, say, a stray cat who came around to be fed. That man broke my heart...but even then, I knew he was wrong. 
I plan to participate in this project every year...it is very dear to my heart.  Thank you Hope, and thank you Znetshows, for giving me the nudge and the beads so that I can show my support to another family like mine!




  1. What a beautiful bracelet and touching words about your son. I cannot believe that doctor said that to you. I am appalled He is blessed to have such a caring mother, not all kids with Autism are as blessed. Hugs to you and to Michael!

  2. Back in the day (Michael was born in 1975) there was a belief that autism was caused by the fetus somehow figuring out that he was an unwanted child...and by a cold, detached mother. Dr. Bruno Bettelheim started a group home for autistic children, and in the front yard was a large (very large) rock, which he called "Mother". The children were encouraged to hit the rock with sticks and throw smaller rocks at it, to release their inner rage toward their cold, uncaring mothers...who, of course, had caused their autism. Hope, we have come so far in the last 40 years...so very far! And to be perfectly honest, although the challenges were many...and some of them really terrible...Michael added something to our family that helped us all become much more compassionate than we might have been otherwise!

  3. Wow, I can't believe that it was thought the mother didn't want the child. I wanted Spencer more than anything. After having my first, I cried for years with yearning to have another!

    The bracelet is gorgeous! Clever to use memory wire to make it adjustable and fit anyone. I sure hope znetshows changes their policy about Canadian designers sometime soon.


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