CATEGORY: Calhoun County
HED: Woman with Down syndrome makes beaded necklaces
By LaRaye Brown
CALHOUN CITY - At 26, Kyndal Fox sits in her parents' living room doing what she does best - making necklaces.
Fox uses her small, well-manicured hands to thread tiny black beads onto fishing line. About 100 of the beads are in a small box that she holds close to her right eye.
Each necklace has several patterns that incorporate at least four colors and bead sizes. She is wearing one that is black, white, purple, red and blue. It matches perfectly the pleated houndstooth miniskirt and black vest she is wearing.
"You can put on one and you can take it and turn it around and it will look like a different necklace," her mother, Barbara Fox, said. "It's like wearing a little piece of art."
"I just enjoy doing stuff with my hands," Fox said.
How does she create the patterns?
"That's easy," Fox said as she sat cross-legged. "I think about it in my head a lot. It's easier to create like that."
Even though Fox has Down syndrome, her mother said she always knew Fox would be successful.
Down syndrome is a form of mental retardation characterized by short limbs, vision problems and difficulty speaking and learning to read. Fox's mother said her daughter's symptoms have always been mild.
"Kyndal's view of that has been that it's just a characteristic, that it's not a handicap," said Barbara Fox, a speech pathologist.
Her expectations for her daughter "are the same as they are for my other two children," Barbara Fox said. "I expect her to have a fulfilled life and just to be happy. People do that by being fulfilled through their family or sometimes through their jobs or sometimes through creativity. I think she has a very fulfilled life through her creative skills."
"She's never had any problem reading," Barbara Fox said. "She thinks math is a curse on the world."
Fox's dislike of math, however, didn't keep her from graduating from Calhoun City High School in 1991.
How the hobby began
Fox began making the necklaces four years ago after she saw a cousin who lives in Atlanta making them. The cousin later sent Fox a box of beads so she could try the hobby herself.
"She tried it and she really enjoyed it," Barbara Fox said. "Now we look for beads wherever we go."
Fox collects beads from other countries and friends.
"I get them from Paris, London and Spain," Fox said, adding that she loves to travel with her mother visiting European flea markets and antique shops. Some of the beads are from nearby states.
"I like any kind of beads, black beads, red beads, itty-bitty beads," Fox said.
Fox has worn contact lenses for 18 years and without them she is legally blind in her right eye.
"How she does those little beads, I don't know," Barbara Fox said.
Fox usually spends three days making the necklaces, which sell for between $35 and $65.
No one has kept track of just how many pieces of neckwear Fox has made. In addition to selling them, she gives them to friends and family members. Others are collecting in an armoire in the family living room. Those on the top shelf surround black-and-white photos of relatives. Those on the bottom shelf are waiting for mom to put the finishing tie on.
When not making beaded necklaces, Fox watches her favorite sitcom, "Wings," as many times a day as she can or "Welcome Back Kotter," or talks on the phone with her best friend.
Her parents own the Cash Shoe store in Calhoun City, but Barbara Fox said her daughter has said she doesn't want to work in the family store.
Before the necklaces, Fox did have another career idea. "I was thinking of making myself a rock star," she said, laughing.
Fact Box: WHERE TO WRITE
For information on Kyndal Fox's necklaces, write to her at: Bead Art Treasures by Kyndal, P.O. Drawer 1040, Calhoun City, MS 38916.