It is so good to get involved with something outside of my own business with my art! A phenomenal inspiration is the Beads of Courage art-in-medicine program (www.beadsofcourage.org). I learned of this program some years ago when it was introduced at an international bead conference I was attending.
Beads of Courage helps children chart their journey in battling life-threatening illnesses like cancer and heart disease through their own collection of beads. The child gets a bead for every poke and procedure he/she endures with a special glass/lampwork bead chosen for an Act of Courage: for example, the first time the child doesn’t cry when getting blood drawn, a surgery, speaking about the program, and so on. Children in this program literally amass ropes of beads to chart their journey.
Members of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (I have been a member since 2000) have embraced Beads of Courage almost from the outset of the program, from individual members donating beads to groups challenging each other to make the most during the Bead Challenge Days to raising funds to start the program at local hospitals. The local group to which I belong, the Midwest Lampworkers Guild, not only donates beads but also has also raised the start-up funds and sustaining funds for the program at our own Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha NE.
For me personally, I start each torch session by making a bead or two that I collect and donate through our Guild monthly. I love to create bright fun beads with graffiti stringer as well as critters like frogs, turtles and fish. From talking to some of the kids in the program, I understand that big bumpy beads are popular, so those get added to the mix as well.
Last year during the National Bead Challenge Day, I got a request for a Dream Bead from a local patient, Mallory. She wanted an aquarium bead. A friend donated a different fish murrini from the one I had made in a recent lass so the aquarium would include fish, and I went to work. Needless to say, I was thrilled to create an aquarium bead complete with seaweed, shells and rocks as well as several clown and yellow tang fish!
I am so happy to be able to help kids with my art in this way.
Our local Guild raises sustaining funds through Art in the Bag, a benefit auction held yearly in October.
More info can be found at www.artinthebag.com