The Light Within


The last year of my life has been a journey through the darkness of grief back to light, or more specifically, connecting with the light inside myself again. In the spring of 2014, I lost someone I love dearly to a most dreaded disease. He faced every moment of his journey courageously, right up until his last breath. It has been a very hard and lonely year without my best friend, and I still find it difficult to speak of the reality of his passing.


Just as I created this freeform cuff bracelet one bead at a time, so I got through this last year by taking one step at a time, even when it was the hardest thing to do.


My beads have always been a place of deep healing for me. Sorting them, touching them, weaving them together to create a story. Here is a story of my light within.


Just as I had done with my Albuquerque Sky necklace, I made the polymer clay focal with my favorite mokume gane layering, this particular one being Barbara McGuire’s Shimmering Gold technique using gold leaf, translucent clay and alcohol inks.


Layering the translucent polymer clay with gold leaf is a lovely technique that gives an inner light shimmer to the focal piece.


The colors of a watery realm reflect deep feelings and the undulating paths of the beadwork represent the ups and downs of my grieving path.


When the beadwork was complete, I found that I didn’t like the feel of the wide cuff directly on my skin so I lined it with teal-colored ultrasuede and then finished the piece with four sew-on snaps. It feels like a hug on my arm.


I still have my sad days, days when I miss my friend with such an achingly hollow feeling in my heart. Then there are my not so sad days, days when it’s easier to see and acknowledge all of the abundance in my life. On those days, I grab on to hope and my gratitude pulls me back to a more positive place.

I’m glad to be sharing my beadwork with you once again.


16 comments on “The Light Within

  1. Sandy says:

    Beautiful piece. Well done. And good words on a difficult year.

  2. What a gorgeous work of art. A thing of such delicacy and beauty came out of, and achingly reflects, the love and loss you experienced. I am so glad my friend Judy Shea shared your post.

  3. Haunani says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful art, it is exquisite. I am sorry for the loss you suffer and can understand a world shaded in grief. So thank you, again, for sharing your lovely bead work which lifts the spirit in viewing pleasure. Thank you also for sharing your story, as it brings comfort to the soul and inspires hope that in a landscape of shadow, a light may yet be found.

  4. Tricia says:

    Lovely work, Karen. Sorry for the loss of your friend.

  5. Kyly Sheldon says:

    Your bead work has to be the most creative I’ve ever seen. It isn’t just jewelry, its art. Amazing, well done.

  6. Kyly Sheldon says:

    I can just imagine how therapeutic working with such beautiful materials can be. It’s nice to know that simple things like working with your hands can help heal a broken heart. I am sorry for your loss. Welcome back to the other side x

  7. Cathy J. Mankin says:

    I’m so deeply sorry for your loss. I lost my husband in 2000. I still feel sadness from time to time, but with passing time I focus on the joyful things. Beading has played a big part in getting me through my grief. Again, I am sorry for your loss.

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