Monday, February 24, 2014

Elaine Ray is retiring...

Sad news today:

Elaine Ray is retiring from the bead-making world. 

We bead users will miss her, certainly, but she's leaving us to go back to her career as an Occupational Therapist. I've heard Elaine talking in glowing terms about how excited she is to find that one tool or trick that can help a child to cope with school, to understand the work they need to accomplish, to feel like they belong. 

She's talented as a bead maker, but I've known Elaine long enough to know that one of her unique abilities is to look at a process or activity - any process or activity - and figure out a way to simplify it, to make it smoother or faster or easier. She did it for years with her beads; she'd discover a way to cut the production time on a square or round or diamond bead so she could happily concentrate on the finishing or the glazing. I think the children who she now works with are so lucky to have her to help them navigate a confusing or scary or difficult task and school day. I know she's making an important difference in the world. 

I remember the day that Elaine walked into our store, years ago (in 2002?) with a basket full of glazed ceramic beads. Lois, the designer behind It's By Design (and one of our fabulous alumni staff) greeted Elaine in the store and then came upstairs to fetch me. 'There's someone downstairs you should meet, she has interesting beads...' This wasn't something Lois would say every day, and it was so true. I've got a box full of Elaine beads I've been assembling over the years. Some of them I've used readily, but others have been hard to use...too special to me, perhaps? I think I am going to get that box out this week and make myself some new earrings. 

I'll miss her, but I know she's doing what she should be doing. 

If you want to see the remaining Elaine Ray beads, click here to visit her pages on

UPDATE Elaine will be glazing one last kiln-worth of beads some time this spring or summer. We will notify customers via our newsletter, this blog, and our facebook page when those beads are available. If you do not subscribe to our newsletter, the link is in the sidebar of this blog. (cmd)

UPDATE Elaine's last trunk show will be Thursday, May 29th and Friday, May 30th. Join us on the 29th as the show opens for shopping. Elaine will be joining us that night.