"Mom. Do you think there are people in Ghana who like making beaded necklaces as much as I do?"
"Really? I mean, THEY HAVE ALL THESE BEAUTIFUL BEADS THERE. OF COURSE there must be people who love doing this as much as I do. There HAVE to be."
Summer of craft is on fire, I tell you. If there's a thing to be sketched, fabric to be stitched, or beads to be strung, we're there.
Wyatt's necklace project was inspired by a quick trip through Qoio on 24th Street. While walking among the cases of all the gorgeous creations, Wyatt spied a box containing strings of beautiful recycled glass beads and announced we should absolutely buy the cobalt blue string so he could make himself a necklace. A quick look at the beads made me think they had been made by Cedi Beads Industry in Odumasi/Kobo, Ghana. The shopkeeper confirmed my suspicions. (Check out this video of a tour--the work the artisans do making the beads by hand is truly remarkable.)
Marc and I toured Cedi Beads Industry in 2010 when we traveled to Ghana to visit my aunt and uncle and other friends and family. The entire trip was amazing, and seeing this particular craft, where people recycle old glass bottles into beautiful beads, was incredible. (Seriously. Watch the video.) As you might guess, I bought a fair number of beads from Mr. Cedi's shop at the factory, and I had some left as of last week. Now I have fewer, but I also have an ecstatic, bead-stringing, necklace-wearing six-year old. That feels like a win to me.
Making a simple necklace is easy, but you do need some supplies. Because I wasn't sure we had everything we needed, I made Wyatt wait a whole day to make his necklace. It wasn't pretty, but he survived. Meanwhile, I dug out the jewelry making kit that I hadn't touched for about eight years, I found one remaining clasp, a bunch of crimp beads, wire, pliers and wire cutters. Wyatt was in luck: we had enough hardware to make one necklace. (If you want to try this project, this tutorial is great and shows exactly the way we made our necklace, down to the Soft Flex Wire.)
Wyatt had so much fun choosing which of my beads to use, and how to alternate them with his beads, taking them off and putting them on the wire to see how different multiples of different colors changed the effect. He couldn't believe how lucky he was to have so many options when making his necklace.
He proudly wore his necklace to camp the next day, and the next. That second day, though, it broke because some kid yanked on it (somewhat mean-spiritedly, apparently). But the teachers helped Wyatt pick all the pieces up and we put the necklace back together with new wire and new crimp beads that evening. Lesson: It's always good to have extra supplies, in case of a catastrophe.
Having an abundance of good craft supplies is the best. Summer is supposed to be about abundance, right? Time, crafts, sun, books, and even fruits and vegetables, too. One thing I'm never excited for this time of year, though, is the abundance of summer squash and zucchini. We got about two pounds (or more?) of it in our farm share box last week. As I unpacked it, I actually said "Ugh," and Wyatt asked, "What are you going to do with THAT?" You see, he's not a fan either. I know, I know, you're shaking your head and thinking zucchini is great! You can make it into noodles! Zoodles! It's healthy! Low carb! Paleo! Whatever. I can't even. It isn't ever going to be a noodle. It's zucchini. And it suffers from being irretrievably watery and terribly textured if you cook it for even a moment too long. Also? It doesn't taste very good. But, I noticed a recipe on the insert with our farm share, and I thought, "This sounds so weird, it might taste amazing." It was for Creamy Courgette and Tarragon Cobbler (by Yotom Ottolenghi, so, there's credibility behind it). And the dish was outstanding. It's not a quick recipe, but it was so good I'm almost looking forward to having too many squash again in a couple of weeks.
Here's how ours looked (after we ate most of it). I didn't think to check for the online version of the recipe with photos until I decided to write this post. When I made the recipe, I could not figure out how I was supposed to pipe the mashed potato. Looking at the recipe photo after the fact, it's obvious. At the time, however, I thought, my poor piping might be the closest I'd ever feel to failing a Great British Baking Show technical challenge.