Penquin Bean Bracelet

Little black and white beans

These little black and white beans just make me think of cute little penguins (actually I think real penguins aren’t that little but anyway). Their proper name is Black Calypso Beans and I purchased them online from Manitou Trading Company, part of Woodland Foods. They have all sorts of beautiful beans!

Black Calypso Beans (a.k.a. Penguin beans)

The Black Calypso Bean is a bi-colored member of the legume family, offering nutrient density, mild flavor and a creamy texture that performs well on its own or as a component among other ingredients.

  • 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length
  • Half black, half white with contrasting speckles
  • Mild, earthy flavor, often compared to potatoes

beads getting ready to be drilled beans getting ready to be drilled





Similar to the Anasazi beans, these beans are really little. You have to anchor them between two fingers to hold them still enough to drill. But it’s worth it.

Memory Wire Info

Memory wire comes in a variety of metals and sizes. One thing to remember is that memory wire is specialized and requires a different tool to cut it. Trying to cut it with your regular cutters will ruin the cutter.

The memory wire I used was silver and wrist-sized. I once upon a time had the little metal balls to glue on the end of memory wire, but I need to rummage some more to find them in the self-imposed chaos of my workshop. So I just twisted the ends of the wire to keep the beans and beads from falling off. Not terribly attractive, but functional.

The final (sort of final) bracelet:

Finished bracelet Finished bracelet

Haven’t listed these yet (still looking for those little balls), but this is how the bracelet turned out. I just love it — maybe I’ll just keep it to wear myself!

Please take a look at my web site anyway, though. Thanks.


Who were the Anasazi? Where did they live?

Anasazi Beans were one of the few crops cultivated by the Anasazi Indians.  Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning “ancient ones”. The Anasazi Indians are best identified by their architectural achievements known today as cliff dwellings and inhabited these structures as early as 130 A.D. Today these structures can be seen at areas such as Mesa Verde National Park, located in Southwestern Colorado.

Source: Adobe Milling Co., Inc., Dove Creek, CO

Who would have thought these beans would make such a stunning necklace? Well, here’s how the necklace came about . . .

Now to make a necklace . . .

First, the beans . . . Aren’t they beautiful?!





These little beans present a little bit of a problem because they are so small. I had to hold the bean between my middle finger and pointer finger to hold it stationery enough to pierce it with the dremel. Drilling results in a little powder but that’s no problem — just rub the bean with your fingers as you’re stringing.

Then came the question of what to combine with the beads. First, I thought of a clear faceted crystal bead to contrast with the colorful bean. But that looked really weird. Then I tried to find a red stone or something contrasting, but never could find the right shade of red.

My Secret

(One of the things that I have to admit is that I do all my work restricted to my workshop due to having had a stroke. So all my supplies to choose from are right there and that’s what I have to work with. Except for Amazon but sometimes that’s not fast enough!)

More rummaging . . .

So after rummaging through the stacks of boxes, I came up with these interesting-looking little beads. Of course, it helps to have a cat assistant — this Walter.







These little grey pearly beads ended up working very well with the colorful Anasazi beads. Now what about some sort of center focal point to reduce the monotony of just the beans and beads?

Back to rummaging.


So here, finally is the finished necklace.

Check out the listing

Horrors!!  I’m running out of beans!  Stay tuned . . .

Thank you for visiting our blog. Please check out our web site to see all of our goodies:

Susan Gibson-garfe


Fava Beans and Goddesses

Love Affair with Fava Beans . . .

I’ve always loved fava beans. Their shape is so fluid and sensual. They start out as pretty placid looking beans at Central Market. I bought these in 2011.

BUT! When they are sprayed gold, they turn into something beautiful. (Of course, that happens to most things when they’re sprayed gold.)

Next, add some bling

Add black and rhinestone spacers, and you have something spectacular.





See more about this necklace at

But, how about some tiny goddesses?

Then, not content to leave well enough alone, why not add some goddesses? These are adorable little goddesses are hand-made by an artist from Portland, Oregon. Each one is individual and precious.

What better frame than some golden fava beans?






Check out the little fava goddess necklace at

Better yet, please check out our web site to see all our goodies:

Thanks for visiting — more “Beans can be beautiful” stories in the works.

Susan Gibson-Grafe


Kidney Beans

Another adventure in “Beans can be Beautiful” . . .

Kidney beans are such a beautiful shade of reddish-brown and the red jasper nuggets matched perfectly. The vintage Tibetan temple beads were a wonderful foil.

Back to drilling!

The hard part was drilling the holes in the kidney beans — they’re tiny! Not all of the beans passed the test with the hole landing in the middle of the bean.

Limitations of photography

It’s almost impossible (at least for me) to capture the rich colors of these beans and beads — believe me, they’re awesome!

Check out our web site for more details:


All readers are hereby sworn to absolute secrecy as to the following:

John’s Kidney-bean Chili recipe

Brown 2 pounds 80% hamburger meat along with 1 medium-to-large yellow onion. Add salt and pepper as meat is browning. Make sure to thoroughly cook the meat. Add two(2) 15-½ oz. cans of diced tomatoes, one(1) 15-½ oz. can of tomato sauce, one(1) 15-½ oz. can of red kidney beans, and one(1) 15-½ can of pinto or chili beans. Add two(2) packets of McCormick or Lowry’s Original Chili Mix. Simmer for a minimum of 1 hour. Enjoy!

Remember: if you get tired of wearing the necklace, you can always make chili!

Check out our this page for more details:

Or, better yet, check out our web site for all the goodies:

Stay tuned for more “Beans can be beautiful”

Susan Gibson-Grafe


Giant Peruvian Lima Beans

About the Giant Peruvian Lima Beans

Have you ever heard of Giant Peruvian Lima Beans? I hadn’t either until I found them recently at Central Market. The shape of these strange looking beans is just wonderful.

The giant version of the regular lima or butter bean, Giant Peruvian or “gigantes” as they’re known, have the same creamy texture and sweet flavor. They’re about 1 inch long, flat and white. Hearty and filling, use with salads, soups, casseroles, rice dishes, or puree into a dip or spread. Soak overnight before use, drain and rinse.

Before you start to drill

They have a thick shell that apparently can crack so you have to check them individually to make sure they’re whole.

Then you can start drilling a hole in each one for the stringing wire. Of course, having a cat supervising always helps.







Next you have to decide: leave the bean alone or embellish them  – Oh! the artistic choices that must be made.

Well, let’s embellish them. This is where my husband, John, comes in – with the glitter.










We’re still experimenting with different kinds of lacquer and spray but haven’t solved that problem yet.

Back to stringing the beans

 I started stringing the “un-shiny” beans. I wasn’t sure at first what to use as spacers between the beans. The little green leaves didn’t do much, so I decided against them.

Next I tried some little red coral branches and I liked the contrast. Then I started looking for a coral stone for the center. I decided on a deep red center stone, but this required restringing the whole thing with different coral branches that were more red.

Finally decided on the coral “twigs”

The necklace was starting to look good. BUT I had messed up. I was stringing the beans one way, but evidently got distracted or just plain not paying attention, and had reversed the direction of the beans about three-quarters of the way through. I had already closed both ends of the clasp with crimp beads, which meant having to start all over again with another piece of wire. I seem to have problems with dimensions and persistently try to make due with a piece of wire that I’ve cut off the spool, only to find that it’s too short. I have all these rejected pieces of wire lying around and try to make use of them on other projects to no avail.

Now all the beans are facing in the right direction–finally! Just for the picture — when you wear this necklace all the beans will go in their own direction and look much more interesting.

Of course, IF you get really hungry, you can eat them!

To see the finished product, go to

Check back for more “Beans can Be Beautiful”. I just ordered more beans!!