When she was in her mid-40s, Patty Dwyer Wanninger inherited her mother’s piano. She plunked the keys faithfully, but couldn’t seem to improve.
“I tried unsuccessfully for three or four years to try to play the piano,” she said. “I was terrible. I finally gave up.”
So Wanninger, a Milwaukee-based implementation consultant for EBSCO Information Services, decided to take up a hobby for which she had more talent: beading.
When she’s not helping libraries nationwide install new management system software, she’s stringing together jewelry for herself and friends.
Pretty soon, she was making glasses chains and necklaces. Then she was learning to sew with beads, and she started learning other techniques at the Loose Bead Society of Greater Milwaukee.
Twenty years later, Wanninger made one of her favorite projects: French wire beaded flowers that adorned a belt and hairpins worn by her daughter on her wedding day this past summer.
“We were looking at that stuff on Etsy and I thought, ‘Well I can do those,’” she said. “I love making the flowers. It’s very zen.”
A sewn bead project like a cuff might take three nights while Wanninger is watching TV.
“A multi-strand necklace or a pattern or you want to be balanced, none of which I’m very good at, then of course that takes longer,” she said. “I really hate to follow a pattern.”
Wanninger finds the beads consoling.
“They wait for you, they’re solid, they’re glass. Even if they get wet in a flood in the basement, you just wash them off,” she said. “They’re a reliable companion.”
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