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Putting Humanity back in Arts: Introducing Tami

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People who don’t write (other than for school essays and company memos) often think that there is only one way to write.

I beg to differ.

I know quite a few writers and none of us have the exact same way of writing. Also, some writers have different ways of writing depending on what they are writing for and where the idea came from.

When I write, I often see words, pieces of sentences and scene ideas floating around within the bubble of a general idea. My challenge isn’t finding what to write about; quite the contrary, I have two binders full of plots and storylines that I only need time to write about (I doubt I ever will; the binder tend to multiply a lot faster than any human can write).

The challenge for me comes in setting that idea’s foundation then building it up into a story (or, in the case of this blog, into a post). That nebulous cloud of words, sentences and ideas is quite large, and it is only when I have strung them together that they turn into a beautiful story (or so I like to think). Of all the various ways I have of writing, this is my preferred one (which made NaNoWriMo all the harder for me) and makes it only logical that I love beading.

2I was immediately taken with the beauty and craftsmanship of the necklaces Tami makes. However much I love beading, I have never been able to turn into reality the visions of gloriously beautiful necklaces that float in my head. But here was someone who had as much ease with beads as I have with words. And apparently, she works in almost the same way: the final product is already a nebulous image in her mind when she starts, inspired by the beads she has underhand. As she works, the idea becomes reality, adapting to the realities of beading.

Tami’s work area is a colourful, inspiring array of beads neatly organised in rows and rows of little boxes. The more delicate ones, made of glass, are nestled on beds of cotton, making them seem even more delicate. In the middle lies a couple of creations currently under construction; just like I tend to work on three or four different pieces at the same time, Tami doesn’t focus on one thing at a time.

Which is ironic, because beading helps Tami focus; this isn’t something unusual, as the relaxing motions and creativity behind beading have been related for centuries to prayer and mediation. Amongst other, beading is a big part of Native Culture in Canada and the Unites States. A very old craft, beads have been made all over the word using very different materials: from precious to semi-precious stones all the way to sea shells and bones.

“Beaded items for religious purposes are either made personally (medicine pouch, pipe bag), or given by relatives, not bought or sold. Beadwork on such items often reminds the owner of a personal vision or sign or the meaning of a personal name, it is not only to make them beautiful. However, making sacred objects beautiful, especially by taking a lot of time and care, shows honor and respect to the spiritual powers, not only through words and feelings, but through artistry and work. This reality – the work done as itself a prayer or vow — underlies and strengthens ceremonial activities. (source: here) http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/beads/art_bead.html

3One of my friends, a nurse, worked for awhile with children suffering from various psychiatric disorders. He told me more than once of the calming influence of many arts and crafts on the children, and how he was able to connect with them during such soothing, creative sessions.

One of his preferred crafts is beading, which he regularly practices with his older patients. He teaches his young protégés to bead to a certain rhythm. His patients often already resorted to soothing rhythmic motions in times of duress.

Would it be too idealistic to say that beading could be yet another tool used to help carry forward an ever advancing civilization? Native Americans use beading not only as a creative outlet, but also as a meditative tool. They create beautiful art with their hands and, through the meditation, create beautiful peace in their souls. If beading can be used like that, then wouldn’t it help angry, confused, scared people to become at peace, to know what they should do and to gain the courage to take the next step, however small it might be? And couldn’t this bring about a healthier generation of humans who will be able to work together to deal with age-old problems?

In Native tradition, beading enhances prayer and is a meditative process. When used so, Tami and others beading can also use beading not only as a creative outlet, but also and especially as a meditative process. It helps concretely organise abstract, mixed up thoughts.

Seen in this light, beading becomes a lot more than making pretty necklaces. Not only do Tami’s necklaces help us learn to appreciate once again the joys of handmade crafts (as opposed to the mass produced necklaces everyone seems to be wearing nowadays), but they become a symbol of the slow yet steady process humanity could make in putting together the ideas behind the concept of piece which had been floating around long enough for us to make it a reality.

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