C Koop Bead Book Challenge winner

Congratulations to Mary Townsend of Columbus Ohio, Haezz Jewelry Designs for winning the enameled book challenge that I hosted here a few weeks ago!  Mary created a piece of jewelry with a pair of book components and wrote a story that accompanied her submission and the owner at Superior Beads in Duluth MN picked her piece as the winner. She will be receiving $100 of C Koop enameled components as her prize!!

I thought it would be nice to show her story and necklace here! I Hope you enjoy it!


My home life as a child was quite harsh. My mom was ill most of the time, my father worked a lot, and neither could not protect me from the abuse I endured. I never felt safe. I never felt confident. But I always felt afraid. I turned inward at an early age and stayed there for well over two decades. Introversion was a way of life.
For my 30th birthday, I started college. This was a huge step for me; it had always been my dream. I thought it would simply remain a dream. I gathered all the courage I could muster and began work on my BS in anthropology/archaeology and behavioral science.
An opportunity opened up for me to go on a student exchange to Istanbul, Turkey for spring semester. I was accepted. I had so many things I wanted to do while in this incredible country. From the Grand Bazaar to the Hagia Sophia (these I saw) and then after classes were finished, I would travel south to study a Roman city.
Unfortunately, the school was surrounded by high, thick stone walls and topped with barbed wire. Guard shacks were stationed at all points of egress and ingress. Bombs went off three consecutive days; one blowing up a bus I had just missed.
Being from the Midwest did not prepare me for any of this. How could it? I was terrified to leave my room. It was like being a child again: anxious and fearful with 'adults' who would not hear my concerns.
A disastrous meeting with the Dean and his cavalier “It takes a while to adjust to the bombings, but you are safe. Really, you are,” left me unconvinced.
The problem was I could not leave. The Dean refused to help me get back home and I could not get a phone to work to contact my college or even my husband.
So, I bribed guards to let me out in the dark of the night (they were kind enough to call a taxi for me); I went to a cheap hotel for a few hours sleep before I headed out early in the morning to catch my flight to London. From there I went to Chicago and home to Wisconsin.

Since I had a working plan, my fears evaporated. Never in my life had I been so calm and confident. I had given myself these gifts.

This necklace shows my emerging from barbed wire and into self confidence and strength. The book shows the words I used to urge me towards self-preservation and the colors and pictures of the beauty I saw and drew my strength from. After walking the grooved stone ramp up into the heights of the Hagia Sophia, realizing how many thousands of people had done the very same for centuries upon centuries before me, I gathered my courage from those stones I walked and the walls I touched (just as they had) and from the golden mosaics that looked down upon so many scared souls.

I blossomed and grew as I emerged from that barbed wire prison-school. And I have never been the same. I have strength and passion and a simple truth still held in my heart: I was brave in the face of absolute terror and brought myself home safely, never to be the same again.

Materials and Meanings:

The Ckoop book component contains glazed images and words to impart my life-changing adventure in Istanbul, Turkey.

The leaf/pea pod is fold formed 24 gauge copper sheet created and patina-ed by me. The Byzantine-looking cross is cut from 24 gauge copper sheet from a noutline I created after researching the types of crosses found in the 6th century CE.
The Venetian gold foil beads, Czech glass beads (including the cream flowers), small Vintag sparrow, and small brass bells were all purchased from my local brick and mortar bead store: 1 Stop Bead Shop in Dublin, Ohio. They are my go-to experts for any ideas I am trying to bring to fruition. Thank you all at 1 Stop for your patience and help with this and all my projects!!

The fold formed leaf with Czech glass beads, pearls, matte Picasso Jasper, and petrified stone represents my move from the darkness of despair and terror into the range of emotions until I hit acceptance and resolve to change my situation- no matter what. My emotions and sense of self were emerging from the closed-mindedness of fear into the large and amazing world.
The cross represents my visit to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. To be able to touch and walk where others have centuries before...well, it changed my life. As any archaeologist will tell you, it blows your mind to follow the worn pathways of history.
The twisted black wire is barbed wire. The flowers hanging off of it and the curves I made with it are evidence of how I faced my fear of gun-toting guards and barbed wire 'prisons' of a sort.
Finally, the bits and pieces of ephemera, the sari silk, sparrow, brass bells, filigree and venetian beads are my way of trying to show you what a beautiful place Istanbul is and why I had to leave it.
Some day I will return. In the meantime, I'll make more pieces about this amazing and oddly dangerous city.

Mary Townsend

haezz jewelry designs


  1. Congratulations, Mary! What an awesome necklace and inspiring story!

    …And thanks so much for hosting this challenge--I have so enjoyed seeing what everyone created. How inspiring, all around! :)

  2. What a wonderful story! The necklace is beautiful. I loved reading about the meaning behind each element. Congratulations on your win, Mary!

  3. Beautiful interpretation of your story and precious words. Congratulations, Mary!

  4. Thank you all so very much! Thanks Lorelei for hosting a wonderful and fun challenge. I am honored to have been selected to even participate with all who created such beautiful jewelry from the treasured memories and stories of their lives.

  5. Congrats Mary- your story is amazing- wonderful that you put all of that into this piece. Your win is well deserved. There were a lot of lovely entries for this challenge!


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