Bead Relievers, er, Releasers

Last year I took a class with Andrea Guarino.  When I was there she showed us a soon-to-be-new-on-the-market tool.  The Bead Releaser by Jim Moore Tools.  I had talked to her earlier that year in Tucson and she told me how her thumbs had actually separated from her hand from removing beads from mandrels.  I think that’s how she explained it…her thumbs separated from something they should have still been attached to.  Regardless, it didn’t sound good and she had to have surgery in both hands, rendering her out of commission from bead making for a while.

Yikes.  That got me to thinking…I’ve had carpal tunnel and I was lucky enough to have it healed with acupuncture.  There are still days that my wrists bother me and the time I notice it most? When I’m removing beads from mandrels.  While this may look harmless:

removing bead from a mandrel

It’s not.

The right hand here is twisting that tiny mandrel in order to break it free from the bead.  Yes, I use pliers for some but it’s still a gripping and twisting action.  And while that might not seem like much to you young whipper-snappers out there, wait till you hit 40 and things start changing.  And the bigger the bead, the more twist strength you need.

So, knowing I had had wrist problems in the past, I bit the bullet and invested in one of those Jim Moore tools.  Not cheap but much cheaper than what it would take to repair my hands and think about if they couldn’t be repaired…that made the tool priceless.  I got it home after buying it at the Gathering and didn’t use it.  That was eight months ago.

My wrists weren’t bothering me and I wondered if I had just wasted $175.  Until this past month.

Something’s going on with my thumb.  Is it repetitive motion?  The start of arthritis?  I notice it when, again, I’m removing beads from mandrels and when I’m writing with a pen.  Two things I do a lot of.  Out came the Bead Releaser and I doubt it will be put away again.  It’s good to be prepared and probably would have been smarter to use it before I needed it, as I don’t know if there is damage done.

This is what it looks like in my studio (clamp not included):

Jim Moore Bead ReleaserHere’s a video of how it works.  Just drop your mandrel in, screw to tighten it and push down.  You get in the groove with smaller beads and it goes really quickly.

There is another method out there that I just came across in Rosemarie Hanus’ blog using a less expensive hand riveter.  You can read about that here.  I probably would have tried that first…I usually try the cheaper method first.  And then I find that the more expensive one really is better.  I think the gripping and squeezing of the riveter would have aggravated my wrists eventually…since I feel it when I grip pliers.  But, it’s an option for you.

Top Eight Reasons NOT to take an Andrea Guarino class in Port Townsend, WA

8. There are wild animals everywhere. And I don’t mean the students. While there we saw immature bald eagles, deer and racoons, just to name a few. In her front yard. Within feet of us. I’ve heard there have been Orca spottings out her front window too. Be safe and stay home…you wouldn’t want to come into contact with one of those, you know.

salmon egg bead

7. You could develop an addiction. You think you’re immune to tool addiction and envy? Think again and don’t test your luck. You will want one of everything. And Andrea probably has it there for you.

6. Your fragile mind could be forever altered. You may find out what a gooey duck is.

5. You might encounter Canadians. And like them. And that could throw you into a problem-solving tizzy every time one of your sweet new friends mentions how hard or expensive it is to get something to them up there. Or how difficult travel may be for them to get to events that the ‘rest of us’ go to. And you’ll start wondering why there is a border and can’t we all just be one?

4. You’ll never want to eat seafood again. At home, that is. You may find that the breakfast sandwich at the fast food place in the airport has better seafood on it than your own local sushi place.

3. You’ll go home feeling neighborly-challenged. After getting used to at least three people/couples/families stopping by the studio daily, you will feel inadequate in your day to day life where no one drops by to visit you ‘just because.’

2. You could lose your whole customer base. After learning what you’re going to learn you will never look at your work the same again. Your $20 beads will immediately be transformed into $75 beads. You could lose your whole customer base because of that. Stay home and save yourself the trouble that this will cause you.

1.  It may end your bead making career. You could go home having learned how to make the beads that I’m showing here and then…what else is there left in life?  You might as well hang it up.  You have just reached the end of the bead-making universe.

Making Use of my Time…

Waiting in airports can be ok.  If you don’t have kids with you.  And you’re not in a hurry.  And you have plenty to write about.  And you need to decompress after a convention, class or workshop.  That’s me right now.

I’m sitting here in the Seattle airport after a weekend class with Andrea Guarino.  Do I look tired?  While we didn’t work until late into the night and I wasn’t our partying, traveling always does this to me…no matter how relaxed things have been.  A little makeup wouldn’t hurt though, would it?

My flight is delayed by about an hour and a half they’re telling me because the crew got in late and needed  to ‘rest’.  I’m wondering if an hour and a half is enough to be refreshed enough to fly again.  Hopefully the pilot won’t want ‘just 10 more minutes’ of shut -eye.

But anyway…this gives me some time to start composing what’s running through my head about the class and to get them ready for you.  So be watching this week and if you don’t want to miss anything, be sure to subscribe!