Inspiring Beaders
Part 2 of 2
Susan Braig of Altadena, California, survived breast cancer in 2004.  Even though she is now cancer-free, her brush with the disease still haunts her today in unpaid medical bills from the lengthy treatment she needed. Alas, unlike other countries, health care is not universal for Americans. She went from being under-insured to being completely uninsured when her private insurance ceased.

Susan said "I bought my first round of medicine and it cost $500 out of my own pocket. I looked at the drugstore receipt and then at the little pills and wondered if they were precious gems."  Little did she know then how unused pills would become a way of paying back her medical debt. In the process, she found a new hobby and a new reason to enjoy life. Hers has been a truly inspiring journey.

She first incorporated leftover medication into jewelry for a 2007 medically-themed art exhibition and performance event organized by the NewTown Pasadena Foundation. Her presentation was so well received, she soon launched her line Designer Drug Jewelry via her Facebook Page. She also sells through craft shows and from her home studio. Susan  recycles unwanted and expired pills which her friends give her.

The solid pills are more durable than gel capsules. She varnishes them before gluing onto her findings thus rendering them unusable as medicine. The leftover pill containers are stripped of their original labels and replaced with her own labels. The jewelry is placed inside complete with cotton ball! What a neat packaging idea! Staying true to the medical theme, she even sells her work at craft shows dressed in a white lab coat.  The bags she provides for her customers are made from surgical masks! Her best seller? Viagra pendants!

Check out Bob Pool's original article and video on the LA Times site. (The video embed code is faulty so I cannot add it here.) This wonderful video interview shows her at work in her studio and the original pill encrusted tiara she made for the exhibition.

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