National Craft Month: How Beading and Creating Art Can Improve Your Health

March is National Craft Month and we’re celebrating by reflecting on all that crafting has brought to our lives. We all know first-hand that crafting, and beading specifically, relieves stress and promotes general well-being. Did you know that there is also plenty of science to back it up? Read on to discover what scientists and artists have to say about everyday creativity and the benefits of making things.

Fight Aging

National Craft Month: How Beading and Creating Art Can Improve Your Health. Design by Marcia DeCoster

Bracelet from Cubic Right-Angle Weave with Marcia DeCoster: Fundamentals

Creativity is defined as “the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.” Whether you’re designing a cuff out of shaped beads or trying to make sense of a tricky thread path, you’re improving your mind’s agility. A finding of the Seattle Longitudinal Study found that a flexible mental attitude is one of the most significant factors in slowing intellectual decline among people in their 70s and 80s. Another fun fact: we actually get more creative as we age. Studies have found that the aging brain is more distractible and disinhibited than the young brain. These are two qualities characteristic of particularly creative minds. Speaking of exceptionally creative minds, Marcia DeCoster has a theory about beading and creative agility: she likes to create multipurpose components and combine them in as many ways as possible.

“Once I have developed the initial design elements of a component, I get endless satisfaction from replicating it with different sizes, shapes, and colors of beads and different embellishments. This allows me to express creativity throughout the beading process. Each new embodiment of the design, with its own character and look, gives me a new thrill. Since the components tend to be small and can be completed quickly, that thrill gets repeated often!”

For more of Marcia’s beady wisdom, check out her video series on RAW and CRAW, or her 10-project eBook.

Stave Off Existential Dread

National Craft Month: How Beading and Creating Art Can Improve Your Health. Design by Cindy Holsclaw

Design from Dainty Prismatic Right-Angle Weave Flower Charms with Cindy Holsclaw

Not that you’ll need it since you’ll be beading so much that you’ll live forever, but studies show that creative pursuits can also lessen the fear of death. Using the horrifyingly-titled “Terror Management Theory,” researchers at the University of Kent found that high levels of creative achievement were associated with lower “death-thought accessibility” and higher “anxiety buffering functions.” Naturally, this is good news. One beader who knows a thing or two about science is Cindy Holsclaw, who has earned a doctorate in biochemistry and the Designer of the Year title from Beadwork magazine (equally impressive?). This is what Cindy has to say about strategies for getting out of a creative rut:

“I find that my creativity comes in waves, and I sometimes experience periods of several months when I’m not satisfied with what I’m creating. During those times I find it helpful to get out of my own head; I’ll purchase patterns from another bead artist or take a class to learn a new approach or perspective on beading, or I’ll dive into an origami book and fold paper for a while.”

For more of Cindy’s scholarly insight, browse her videos on creating structural beadwork.


Get Happy

National Craft Month: How Beading and Creating Art Can Improve Your Health. Design by Kassie Shaw

Vortices Bracelet by Kassie Shaw from Beadwork, February/March 2017

It’s no secret that doing something you enjoy releases dopamine, and therefore, makes you happy. On the other hand, I enjoy eating pizza but if I ate it nonstop I wouldn’t be happier because of it. So what makes crafting different?

Some people say that humans have a primal desire to make things with our hands, which is not sufficiently sated by our modern lifestyles. There’s also evidence that the repetitive nature of beading can help you to achieve a meditative state that will reduce stress and inhibit the “fight or flight” response.  But crafting is not simply enjoyable–it’s also productive. Studies show that crafting can enhance your sense of self-efficacy, or “one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task.” And of course, confidence begets confidence. One of our 2017 Designers of the Year, Kassie Shaw, changed her life when she began beading and likes to share what the craft has done for her:

“I think everyone has a spark of creativity, even those who don’t know it yet. I spent the first thirty years of my life thinking I wasn’t a creative person. Once I allowed myself to jump in to beading, I discovered a whole new world. So be brave, break the rules, and let yourself make mistakes. This is how new ideas become reality.”

Check out all the projects Kassie has shared that show off her brilliant creativity.

Stay sane, happy, and young this March by ramping up your beading and taking some time for yourself. We’re always here for you with more beading inspiration, instruction, and expertise.

Happy Beading!


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