Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dots & Dashes a Pretty Palettes Pay It Forward Challenge

Hello! I've missed you all! It's time for Halcraft's Pretty Palettes blog hop with Erin and the rest of the bead team--as well as all of you!

Erin Prais-Hintz has created a lovely challenge for us this month in her October Pretty Palettes blog post. It's a little different than usual, though. Erin asks us to:

"...create something meaningful – a piece of jewelry, an accessory or decorative object – that you can gift to one or two friends to let them know that they matter to you and to remind them to take time out and be good to themselves."

When I look back at my life, I find my mind (and my body!) returning to the Adirondack mountains in NY. It's not just the mountains, either. I love returning to visit my old summertime roommate, Carolyn, who I was paired with when we were both employees at Silver Bay YMCA during my college years. Over the last couple of decades we've maintained our friendship, and I've loved having her as a sister figure in my life. Both of our fathers have had neurological diseases, which is one thing that we've been able to talk about. Her friendship has been so valuable to me.

For this month's challenge, I wanted to do something special for Carolyn. After a stint as a math teacher after college, Carolyn felt called back to Silver Bay. She started working as an administrator years ago and she's now the COO (Chief Operating Officer), which means she's one busy lady!
Carolyn and me on the porch of the Store with Morse Hall in the background
Silver Bay is more than just a summer YMCA camp, it's a conference center and family camp were hundreds of people come to enjoy nature and each other. It serves people of all ages and stages of life, from their summer children's programs (your child will be designated as a woozle, chippie, eagle, or wee-woozle, among others) to their participation with the Road Scholar program for those who are retired and yearn for adventure and learning.  If you know any college-aged folks who are looking for a fabulous summer job in a gorgeous place, contact Silver Bay. It really is one of the best summer gigs out there. Imagine living a real-life version of "Dirty Dancing" for a summer. Yep. It's that fun!

A view of the Bay from the rustic Adirondack-style boat house where you can rent paddle boards, canoes & kayaks. You can even take a class to learn how to sail!
My design for this month's challenge is based on our special relationship that started in this very special place. As I thought about how to commemorate the place and our relationship in beads, I went from the inspiration of the colors of the mountains and sky and that glorious Lake George water to looking for a charm that symbolized our relationship to geography.

In the end, geography--mapping in particular--won out. Carolyn likes to accessorize by wearing jewelry occasionally, but she lives an active lifestyle and doesn't wear fussy jewelry. I've noticed over the years that each piece of jewelry she has is filled with meaning. I wanted the piece I made for her to be equally meaningful. I really love the white howlite beads and how the rounds are available in many different sizes and shapes, too. After turning it around in my head a bit, I thought "these rounds look like dots & the cylinders look like dashes. What if I worked around Morse code and used the longitude and latitude lines to create a secret message of sorts using the beads?"

I Googled "Morse Code" and found this chart of International Morse Code to start my work.
Morse Code via Wikipedia

To find the longitude and latitude of your specific location,go to Google Maps coordinates, then find and click the position you're interested in using on the map. It's super simple. The longitude and latitude of Silver Bay's historic inn is 43.69° by 73.50°. Writing down the Morse Code pattern on a piece of paper to work from helped me to stay focused while stringing the beads.

Here's the Dots & Dashes bracelet I made using the beads to create the code. I used larger beads between the numbers as place holders for either a decimal or a space between the coordinates; a small faceted glass round to signifies the beginning of a new number. Each number is 5 symbols long, but just like the chart, there is a difference in the size of the rounds and the tubes, so a number like 0 uses a lot of tubes and will be longer, while a number like 5 uses a lot of dots, so it's shorter. As it turned out my bracelet was the perfect length to wrap twice around a wrist after the final 5 of the latitude. Because the 0 would have made the bracelet 2 and 1/2 wraps, I decided to stop there. You could choose to add filler beads to your Morse Code bracelet.

Use rounds and cylinder beads to map out your own beaded Morse Code.

 I used a waxed cord to make this bracelet, but you could string the beads on flexible beading wire or silk cording. I like how the knots make it easy to see the patterns of code. To finish the bracelet (I considered adding a charm, but it seemed a bit too much for this casual bracelet) I created a slide knot (see step 4 of this super fun macramé project by Denise Moore for a good tutorial on this) and added a few beads to the ends of the cord to hold the sliding cord in place. As my little guy would say, easy peasy, lemon squeezy!
If you left the knot slider strands long enough, you could also wear this as a choker!
The Dots & Dashes Morse Code Bracelet
 This project got me thinking about other ways that I could use Morse Code in my beading to create secret message jewelry. You could:
  • Use one color for dots and another color for dashes, with a third color for breaks between the letters or numbers
  • Use different shapes as dots and dashes
  • Use birth dates instead of coordinates
  • Use letters to string messages that can be "read" as words and secret messages
I'm definitely going to play around with this idea more in the future. I made another bracelet for my daughter, whose birthday is coming up, using similar beads and Morse Code. It reads "I love you. 11-8-2001," which is her birth date and the day I became a mother. In celebration of her birthday, we're heading up to Stratford, ON, to see some Shakespeare as well as C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. We'll be enjoying each other and the shows!

I hope you enjoyed my Dots & Dashes bracelets! You find  more great ideas in the rest of the Pretty Palettes projects, and don't forget that Halcraft's fall Pick Your Pretty Palette will be announced next Wednesday, November 2nd on the Halcraft Inspiration blog!