Paraphernalia Tells a Story

Paraphernalia in any corner of your house can connect you with a memory. Hasn’t just a glance caused you to recall a snippet of conversation, a unique experience, or a special occasion?

The same is true in my studio. A keeper of treasures, I find all manner of paraphernalia to be a contributor to projects. These treasures add color to stories.

Collections and stories go hand in hand. Together they create patterns, contribute balance and position the harmony in life. Patterns, balance and harmony make for interesting companions. Let me explain.


Randomness has always intrigued me. Yet, even in randomness, there are patterns. (More on randomness in beadwork here.) The mixed metal necklace pictured here includes a number of repetitions that contribute to the successful rhythm of the piece.

  • Each charm is interspersed with a colorful circular separator of wire.
  • The charms are wrapped with copper and dangle from largish brass jump rings on vintage chain. 
  • The chain is circular in shape, a repeated shape with circular rings and circular wire charms, for example.
  • An open, silver toned stamped heart theme charm appears on each side of the necklace.
  • Two hamsas (palm-shaped amulets with bead embellishments) end the series of charms near the back of the necklace.
  • Six enameled headpins add detailed shape, color and interest to the charms which they enhance.
  • Color is repeated with care throughout the piece: vintage green lime green beads play nicely with the bright yellow glass bumblebee, offset with the yellow wheel bead and the pop of purple mica creative juice. 


Charm placement is a dance of composition in my mind. Length matters, as does shape and weight. During the process, I stop frequently to squint at my arrangement and change it up in order to see how the pieces interact with each other.

Because I built my charms around the mini harmonica and the shell casing in the center, I was forced to play with the rest of the placements in order to unveil their best look. Fortunately, this is what I love to do in my studio. Play.

I conducted my own symphony, honoring the balance that I created. At one point I felt I might have to create a long silver tube to complement the small pocketknife. Then, fortunately, I found a triangular shape that did the balancing trick for me.


The resonance of paraphernalia that works together brings joy to the creator as well as the viewer. Every time I consider the variety of these charms I smile, because they add unexpected bits of surprise and delight. Bits of memory are wound into the details: the gift of a doll harmonica from a friend, a shell casing from my Dad’s 21-gun salute, the protective power of the hand of Dog, along with the happiness and luck it brings its owner.

This is my happy necklace, one that can be worn anywhere, anytime. The patterns, the balance, the harmony contribute to its wholeness.

Look around. I’ll bet you can see a piece of wonder, perhaps part of a collection. What story do you see in your paraphernalia? 

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