In Jewelry, As In Life, Pretty Isn't Always Enough

Well maybe in life looks can get you a long way. But looks alone aren't going to get these bracelets very far...

In summer I love to wear bracelets. A lot of bracelets. I'd wear them all the time actually, but they are a problem as they clatter against the desk or the surface of my MacBook Pro while I'm teaching. So I end up taking them all off in class and then I leave them all over the place and the students (kindly) chase me around the lab to give them back or leave them in a little pile by my notes.

Instead of a lot of individual bracelets, I decided to make some multi-strand bracelets. Many strings, one easy (and this is a key word) on/off step.

Oh sure, they look great.  See the subtle colours in the coordinated palettes. Wonder at the variety of shapes and sizes and the interplay of iridescent, facetted and matt finishes. Appreciate the beauty of the fit and the professional application of findings. Marvel that the beads where selected from shops in LA, Toronto, New York, Ottawa and Brampton over a number of years. Be appalled that I actually remember the origin of each of the thousands of beads in the stash... And then try, just try, to get the darn things off.

Ah usability. The heart of interaction design. It doesn't matter how attractive you make something (be it a web site, a kitchen appliance or a bracelet), if it doesn't function well for the user you have failed.

The problem here was that I didn't test drive the clasps. In action they are very easy to do up. No problem doing it one handed. But once they were on I simply could not get them off. The clasps were too stiff and the little edge you needed to grab was too small to get much purchase on. I literally had to wait for my husband to come home to get me out of them! This induced a ridiculous little bit of panic in me, sort of like reverse claustrophobia. WTF?

And it is altogether too bad 'cause they really are attractive and very well made. Yes, I could find new clasps and then re-string them, but I'm kind of feeling that this bird has flown. I've played with this particular group of beads enough for a while.

As I mentioned in a previous post about stashes, the great thing about beads is that they are fully reusable. A bead stash is pretty much self sustainable if you recycle old or failed projects. I might rework these or more likely just disassemble them for use in future projects.

Bracelets should not cause panic attacks.


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