Beadwork Magazine’s 20th Anniversary Celebration: Stories That Inspire, with Laura Graham

What Defines Me

In early 2007, I experienced a lot of unusual health issues. After many doctor visits I was diagnosed with Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. I was devastated to hear that I would be sick every day for the rest of my life. When this reality hit, depression soon followed. I was constantly attending medical appointments and trying different medications, and everyday life became miserable. By the end of 2007, I was unable to work and I was therefore financially challenged.
Photo Above: Knight’s Armor Necklace made by Graham

Beadwork Magazine's 20th Anniversary Celebration: Stories That Inspire, with Laura Graham

Laura in her Studio

I realized that I needed to find something to take my mind off all the negativity I was dealing with, so I decided to make Christmas gifts that year. I visited my local bead store for supplies and quickly got hooked on jewelry making! It was the perfect hobby to take my mind off the daily struggles of Lupus.

Not long after my first trip to my local bead shop I became interested in exploring other forms of jewelry making, and I fell in love with bead weaving. I credit this wonderful craft for pulling me from my depression and helping me deal with the ups and downs of my disease.

Beadwork Magazine's 20th Anniversary Celebration: Stories That Inspire, with Laura Graham

Laura and her husband, Tony Parham

2017 marks my forty-fifth birthday and the tenth anniversary of my diagnosis with Lupus. I now have an Etsy store, Desert Star Creations; I am a proud member of the BeadSmith Inspiration Squad; and my jewelry has won awards and been published. I also teach my designs at Sweet Beads in Las Vegas. The owner, Shae Wilhite, has been a great support and help to me. I’m happy to report that although some days are still difficult; my Lupus is under control and no longer defines me. Beading completely turned my life around. I hope to not only bring awareness to Lupus and other autoimmune diseases but also show what a difference it can make to use a creative outlet as therapy.

Beadwork Magazine's 20th Anniversary Celebration: Stories That Inspire, with Laura Graham

India’s Eye Cuff Bracelet made by Graham

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAURA GRAHAM

Originally Published in June/July 2017 Beadwork


Check out more of Laura’s other Designs in the Interweave Store: