A few months ago, I gave away some jewelry making supplies. I guess I didn’t give away enough of them. I still have too many beads and findings, but I don’t have enough space to store them.
I usually pack surplus supplies in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and drop them off at a Goodwill store. I really would like to give them to someone, but I don’t know anyone in North County who could use them. On second thought, maybe that’s just as well.
About twenty years ago, I gave a small stash of beads and findings to a twelve-year-old girl. I don’t remember her name, so I’ll call her “Nicole.”
Back then, I worked part time in the fabrics and crafts department of a big box store. One Monday evening when customers were few and far between, I spent ten or fifteen minutes hanging out at the cutting table, discussing the pros and cons of polymer clay with Nicole and her grandmother. I’ll call the grandmother “Ellen.”
When Nicole wandered off to explore the crafts area, Ellen confided that she had temporary custody of Nicole and her thirteen-year-old sister. I won’t share the details here; however, Ellen did share them with me that evening.
The girls’ immediate family was, to say the least, dysfunctional. The parents were divorced, and the sisters had a really contentious relationship. Ellen claimed that the girls couldn’t stand being in the same room with each other.
Ellen supported and encouraged her younger granddaughter’s interest in making jewelry using a variety of materials. She said the hobby distracted Nicole from fretting about family problems and the impending permanent custody hearing.
Nicole had just started making polymer clay beads. She also had created a large inventory of earrings using glass beads. Nicole had sold several pairs of those earrings to a local woman who owned a store.
I told Ellen I planned to sort through my beads and findings and give some away. I asked her if she thought Nicole would like to have them. Ellen gave me her phone number and told me to call her when the supplies were ready to be picked up.
Later that week, I went through my stash and came across a sad looking beaded bracelet I had made a few years before. I had strung the beads on tigertail (inexpensive beading wire) and finished it with the cheapest crimps and clasp I could find. The tigertail had kinked, and the base metal crimps had split.
The bracelet was unwearable, but the small glass pony beads were salvageable. I thought about taking the bracelet apart, but decided to just toss it into the bag as is. When Ellen picked up the supplies, I handed her the bag saying, “There’s a really ugly bracelet in the bag. Nicole can take it apart and use the beads to make something else.”
I never saw Ellen or Nicole again. However, several weeks later, I visited a local consignment store. Upon entering the store, I noticed an earring display with a sign that read, this jewelry was made by Nicole, a twelve-year-old [name of town] resident. I don’t remember how much the earrings were selling for, but that ugly bracelet hanging in the middle of the display had a price tag of $1.50.