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Therapeutic Beadwork

Ellen Long, a Success Story

The ultimate compliment for putting together step-by-step illustrated lessons was experienced in fall 2005 at the Bead Renaissance Show in Denver.

Ellen with Maria at Rypan Designs, Bead Renaissance, Denver, 2005.

I was stunned when a radiant, gorgeous lady wearing ‘Peacock Net’, her own interpretation of one of the lessons in my Netted Mesh Collar book, came to my display table to thank me profusely for “saving her life”. She was so overcome with emotion, she had everyone asking… What was she talking about? How could this be? What did Maria have to do with it?


Ellen, a graphic arts teacher from Colorado, was shocked to find her numbness on the left side diagnosed as MS. She was determined to combat it. Luckily, her doctor first suggested she take up beadstringing to help rebuild the paths in her brain. To further challenge her, he suggested beadweaving, which is more mathematical.

We have to thank Sharon Ostrander, a mutual acquaintance, who had my instruction books. Once an appropriate netted project was selected, she taught Ellen how to follow the pattern instructions. Her first piece was a 2-color Net with an ‘X’ in royal blue and white. She kept on beading this style in MANY sizes, types of beads and colors to keep the therapy going. Her numbness disappeared. Her tin full of 2-Color ‘X” necklaces and variations speaks volumes about her determination, creativity and color sense.

Ellen Long’s first “Net with an ‘X’”

Tin full of Ellen’s netted variations being shared with show attendee.
Ellen has since tried many other beadweaving styles. Her Peacock Net, featured in the Student’s Gallery, is a variation of another style in the Netted Mesh Collar#1 book.

Best wishes to Ellen and everyone who has taken up beading as a therapeutic activity. What other activity could keep the fingers nimble, the mind sharp and still yield such gorgeous results?

Ellen Long’s “Peacock Net”


South African Success Story

Dorothy wrote in response to Elllen’s story:

“I teach beading in a small rural town near Cape Town, South Africa and have also found that beading has been therapeutic.

I have a pupil who has MS who joined a class I ran at our local school last year. She was very depressed and was struggling with weakness in one arm. Her neighbour had just lost her husband and was also feeling very low. The two of them have been coming to beading every week for a year now and have been transformed. The MS sufferer is making beautiful jewellery that she sells to make a little pin money and is even coping with wirework.

Beading changed my life too. I'm a widow and enrolled in a course in May 2004. I soon became a bead addict and when I was asked to volunteer at the school last year, I decided to give teaching a try. Since then, what started off as a hobby has become a full blown business with regular classes given in the bead shop that I now own and run in our town.

Best wishes from our sunny South Africa.”

Dorothy Wodrich
The Fat Green Frog Beading Experience
Riebeek West, South Africa

Happy beading,

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