Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cross Ornaments Available Online!

As some of you may know, Bead Amigas was fortunate to work with Cross International last year creating a cross ornament for their donors. This ornament has not been available to the general public...until now!

We are excited to have partered with Charity Gift Market, a marketplace where you can shop for gifts that tell stories. This site, which is growing everyday, offers a variety of products which support a variety of causes. For now, Bead Amigas will be selling our crosses exclusively on this site along with some other select products.

Please visit this site and support this wonderful endeavor!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bead Amigas Featured on Etsy Weekly!

Check out this interview on Etsy Weekly with our Creative Coordinator, Allison!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nicaragua: A Joyful Success!!

Originally written in June 2008, this post describes the seeds of Bead Amigas as they were planted...

I just returned from my third and most fulfilling trip to Nicaragua. In February, my cohorts and I began tossing around the idea of a paper bead project. Rosann was aware of one that has been successful in Africa and I knew how to make the beads.
Between February and June we came up with a plan that proved to be virtually flawless. While I was allowed to partake primarily in the creative end, Rosann took on the arduous task of testing glues, sealants, materials, and techniques. Lucky for me she enjoys those sorts of things. Two weeks ago I began filling my luggage with pounds of glitter, dozens of bottles of glue, thousands of beads, numerous water color sets, pipe cleaners, stretchy cord, jingle bells (known as "ching chings"), stickers, etc. Each day during the morning and into the early afternoon the children of San Pablo were presented with these supplies and an open invitation to create as they were so moved. It was my intention that they be allowed a creatively organic experience. On the first day many children left the school carrying examples of their artwork that closely resembled my demo piece (same flower, same colors, etc.) However, as the days passed their creative confidence grew as they proudly showed off paintings of their homes and the volcano that serves as a backdrop for their village. At the end of the day, the floor, the yard, the children, and the gringo helpers were all covered in glitter. (Those of you who know me know that I found this to be a beautiful sight!)
glitter art then (2008)

glitter art still hanging on the walls (2011)

We began the paper bead project in the early afternoons. The first day a surprisingly large number of women showed up. On the second and remaining days less attended our group. However if they were not making paper beads with us, then most likely they were outside digging trenches for water pipe.

My beading volunteers and I demonstarted the technique and the Nicaraguan women picked it up quickly. In contrast to the earlier activities of the day, there was a serene calm and intense concentration amoung our participants.

original Bead Amiga, Fatima

On purpose we did not present the paper beads as more than a craft project until the last day. On that day the women were informed that the paper beads could become a successful microenterprise opportunity if they wanted it to. I identified two women in the group whose beads were exceptional and our hope is that one or both will become leaders of the project in their village.

original Bead Amiga, Darling

Fatima wears her paper bead creations

At the end of the last day each women was given a kit that contained everything they would need to make a couple hundred beads. We also presented them with their options of selling the beads. And, should they need additional supplies they can take out a small microloan (less than $5) to purchase more.

Before this trip I was experiencing a lot of anxiety about the success of the project. Rosann was sending me down alone to represent and sell it. On each subsequent trip it is revealed to me more and more that the less things are micromanaged, the more smoothly things go....if allowed to flow naturally, it does so beautifully. I have never felt more present than I do when in Nicaragua. When we visited San Pablo in February there was a obvious lack of spirit and we were regarded with a curiosity that bordered on suspicion. After the first day of gringos and Nicaraguans working side by side and after the children had been bathed in glitter and adorned in beads, there was an perceptible shift. It was as if new life had been breathed into the community...JOY and HOPE were present.

village of Los Rotarios (San Pablo) - February 2008

kids of Los Rotarios (San Pablo) - June 2008

More important than the craft projects were the trenches being dug for the water pipe. In a couple of weeks instead of having to spend 4 - 6 hours a day filling containers with water and hauling them back to their homes for their daily needs (washing, cooking, bathing, etc.), hopefully the women will be inclined to gather to create paper beads and community simultaneously.

women of Los Rotarios (San Pablo) waiting to fill their water
containers from the well pump - February 2008
original Bead Amiga, Ana Rosa - February 2008

Fatima with running water - February 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wonderful Weekend!


This past weekend was a great one on so many levels! Bead Amigas had three events at which we sold and we had fantastic sales! Thanks to everyone who supported us over the three days.

Thanks also to Duncan Creek Elementary, Sugar Hill United Methodist Church and Sugarloaf United Methodist Church for inviting us to participate in these awesome events.

The event sponsored by Sugarloaf United Methodist Church was a partnership with another organization that has truly touched my heart: Feed My Starving Children. According to their website: "Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and we ship the meals to nearly 70 countries around the world."

Every week this organization is allowing people to be the hands and feet of Christ. You can check out their organization here:

Until next time,

Sharon Harrison

Coordinator of Estrogen Power

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Upcoming Bead Amigas Events

Hello everyone!

Bead Amigas has a very busy weekend ahead with events at three different venues:

1. Sugarloaf United Methodist Church is hosting a three day Hunger to Hope event in which 1,500 members of the community will be packing meals to feed underprivileged children. This event is at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, starting Friday at 4:00 and running through Sunday at noon. Bead Amigas will be there all weekend selling our jewelry.

2. Duncan Creek Elementary is hosting their Spring Fling on Saturday from 11:00 – 3:00.

3. Sugar Hill United Methodist Church is conducting a Missions Market on Sunday morning from 9:00 – noon.

We have some new products debuting this weekend and some of our established lines will be on sale. If you have a chance, stop by one of these venues and check us out.

Sharon Harrison
Coordinator of Estrogen Power

Make a Statement

Bead Amigas Hoop Earrings
Big, Bold, & Beautiful
2.5" in diameter

Friday, March 18, 2011

Color Theory 101

On our recent trip to Nicaragua I had the privilege of seeing color through someone else's eyes.
Color has always been my greatest inspiration and I've taken for granted just how much of it I get to experience in my world. The rooms in my home consist of shades of green with pops of coral, Maui ocean blues, and a pinky shade of violet that is reminiscent of an orchid. Needless to say it was a very hard decision to paint the bathrooms the same shade of dull grayish-green, but I was incentivized by the fact that I got to pair that color with the most beautiful handmade tiles in subtle shades of the sea. But, I digress.

As Creative Coordinator for Bead Amigas, one of my jobs is to teach elements of design which, of course, includes color theory. About 9 months ago we had the opportunity to employ another woman, Lorena, in Los Rotarios. Her job would consist of painting drab wallpaper and cutting the paper strips which our beaders would roll into beads.

When Lorena began working with Bead Amigas I was not there to introduce her to color and Rachel, our Field Coordinator, seemed a little nervous about taking on this task. I advised Rachel that she and Lorena should spend some time together experimenting...mix this and that and see what you get. How hard could it be, right? I thought this would be the most fabulous experience for a person who may have never used crayons much less had access to paint. (As an artist, having the opportunity to work with new materials is very exciting.) Lorena revealed later that her hands were trembling the first time she picked up that paint brush. Yikes! That's not the excitement and joy I had hoped for!

I prepared to teach Lorena by creating a reference book of sorts. It contained swatches of the primary colors that we use and swatches of the resulting secondary colors when the primaries are mixed. I also went through kids wallpaper books and pulled out border pieces in bright, vivacious colors for her to draw inspiration from. I wanted her to be able to pick a color from one of those border pieces and match it to a color in the swatch book and to feel confident that she could mix it.

Teaching day came and we got down to business. The first thing we did was mix pastels using the primary colors Lorena had on hand. She patiently tested stripe after stripe of pink creating tints by adding more white as she went along.

Then we moved on to secondary colors starting with purple. Our final challenge was mixing one of our beaders' favorite colors, "celeste." After a period of trial and error we achieved a beautiful blue inspired by the Nicaraguan sky.

On our last day in the village, as we approached Lorena's house, we encountered the most beautiful site. Fluttering in the breeze were freshly painted wallpaper pages.

The truth is Lorena was doing a great job painting paper before our training session. But, I'd like to think that by teaching her a few simple tricks of the trade that her world of color has been expanded if ever so slightly.

When presented with the idea of taking on another pre-production job, Lorena said, "I never thought that I would be able to paint, but I've learned to do it. So, I know I can learn to do the new job as well."

(set of kids paper bead bracelets - $25)