- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

MANITOWOC, Wis. (AP) - Velma Cox likes giving flowers to her friends and family - blue roses, gold lilies, even black daisies.

Of course, the flowers she gives aren’t real, though they do come from seeds.

“They’re made with probably the smallest beads you can find, seed beads, they call them,” said Cox’s daughter, Arlene Kuehnle.

Using thousands upon thousands of beads for one project, Cox strings together rows and rows of the beads - so small 15 would sit comfortably on a fingertip - to form dozens of petals that are eventually put together to make a few flowers, HTR Media reported (https://htrne.ws/1FLpR1a).

“I just do it in my spare time and if I don’t feel like working on them, I don’t,” Cox said. “My mind just kind of goes on this and I don’t think about nothing else.”

Cox, who’s 95 and lives at Felician Village in Manitowoc, is deaf, but received a cochlear implant 30 years ago.

“She was one of the first 500 to ever have an implant. She was deaf always in one ear from scarlet fever as a child,” Kuehnle said. “Then, when she was 65, the other one went.”

But her eyesight has never faltered, a good thing for a hobby that requires attention to small details. She has a lighted magnifying glass at her work station, but only uses it for the light.

“It’s kind of amazing someone who’s 95 is working with tiny, tiny little beads like that, which takes a lot of eyesight,” Kuehnle said. “I’m sort of amazed she enjoys it as much as she does.”

Cox has always been crafty, but the Iowa native only began working with beads about six years ago after her husband passed away.

She started making bead necklaces and adding beads to clothing. Her hobby then expanded to beaded flower bouquets and bead critters such as butterflies, rabbits and frogs, which she sometimes turns into barrettes for her hair and pins for her shirt.

Cox has made about 30 bouquets and countless other items.

How many beads does Cox think she’s used? She laughs at the question.

She has drawers filled with beads of every color, along with rolls of wire and pliers. Some items she can make in a morning, others take days to complete.

“It takes up time when I’d just be sitting here not knowing what to do,” she said of times when she’s not playing games and having meals with friends or visiting family. “I get tired of reading . and this is a little more interesting to me.”

She also likes giving gifts, even to people she doesn’t know.

Another Felician Village resident saw one of Cox’s bouquets on display and asked her to make a blue one for his late wife’s grave inside a mausoleum.

“Most people, if they have imitation flowers, probably have silk or paper,” Kuehnle said. “Not too many people have bead flowers.”

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Information from: HTR Media, https://www.htrnews.com

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