If Inspire Were A Bead: Beads of Courage Jewelry Design Challenge



Since I first shared about the Beads of Courage “Creativity in Full Circle” design challenge sponsored by Soft Flex Company in this post – I have a bit more information about the process to share. It’s really flippin’ cool!

The challenge begins with 10 Beads of Courage children, siblings and parents who create beads based on words like Love, Hope and Spirit and what those words mean to them. 10 glass bead artists were then challenged to create beads based on the top designs. 10 jewelry designers chosen by Soft Flex Company were challenged to incorporate the beads into a finished necklace design.



The bead I received was based on if INSPIRE were a bead … designed by Kailey Maks (Age: 8) from Ann & Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, IL.

In her words: Meaning to breathe life – dolphin and water do both. It is said unicorn dolphins – finding a cure for illness and ocean waves – storm/sickness. Fitting that a unicorn dolphin symbolizes findings a cure!

The bead artist that brought Kailey’s design to life in glass is Nanette Charif from Tucson, AZ.

Nanette’s Bio: I have been a glass artist for 9 years. I began collecting beads and stringing them together over 30 years ago. My focus started with beads and what I can do with them and adding my hand crafted beads with store beads for my jewelry. I have since learned to make murini and multi-colored canes along with more sculptured type pieces like turtles, fish, and pumpkins. I get much of my inspiration from my wonderful lush backyard  and my beautiful Koi pond. Tucson also has the benefit of other cultures to enrich all of us.

Click to purchase if Inspire was a bead … as well as see all the other top bead designs!




If INSPIRE were a bead was then sent to me and I incorporated it into this  necklace bringing “Creativity in Full Circle”! When I received my bead in the mail it was equal parts excitement and fear. I had just a few weeks to complete my design, the final necklace was to be  showcased with designers I respect and admire, but mostly I wanted to honor the bead designed by Kailey and created by Nanette and it’s a bead based on the word Inspire!

I needed to push myself to create something that hopefully would inspire others. I began working with the bead to create a hanging pendant. I’m inspired by jewelry designs that use interesting materials and force me look closer and examine how it was created. With that in mind, I knew I wanted the pendant to have some fun elements like the Dark Blue Lapis Soft Flex Wire and bead tassel. I also felt that knitting Dark Blue Lapis Soft Flex beading wire would add interest with texture. I knit with wire often but, had yet to add beads to my knitted designs so, of course I wanted to try that out and knitted with Swarovski crystal beads! Lastly, I added some fun blue glass beads from my stash and added those and crystal beads to complete the necklace. I was a little concerned I was putting too many idea in one piece but, I think by keeping the color scheme classic and simple in blue and white it helps it all work together.

I’m truly honored to be one of the 10 designers participating in this challenge  alongside jewelry designers I admire so very much and a wonderful cause I am happy to support! The finished necklace designs were featured at the 2014 Bead&Button Show in Milwaukee and sold to raise money for the Beads of Courage Program.




The designers chosen by Soft Flex Company to make the final pieces include:
Jamie Hogsett
Diane Trepanier

Visit Beads of Courage to learn more and see how you can get involved with this amazing organization! Beads of Courage, provides arts-in-medicine for children coping with serious illnesses, their families and the health care providers who care for them. Truly an awesome organization.

Visit Soft Flex Company for more information about this project with Beads of Courage and the products used in the final jewelry designs.