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Corinne Funk's love of reading and writing...


Corinne Funk's love of reading and writing led to a grant and 0) a summer of research

For Valentine's Day, the Bryn Mawr School columnist asked some Gilman boys to describe their dream woman and then ridiculed them for "pretty much describing Barbie." After she and her classmates lost their senior room for writing on its walls, she satirized what would happen if the teachers ever got locked out of their precious lounge.

Juvenile jottings or Menckenesque potential?

Corinne Funk probably would place herself somewhere in between, but she might have a better idea later this summer. The 18-year-old student won a $2,000 "Younger Scholars" grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her proposal to research "Twentieth Century Baltimore Writers: The Influence of the Urban Environment on Edith Hamilton, H. L. Mencken and Anne Tyler." She is one of two Maryland high school students among the 75 students selected from 392 applicants.

"My friends are amazed I actually wanted to spend the summer working even more," Ms. Funk says during a recent break from studying for a physics exam. "But I really am looking forward to it. I love reading and writing."

Ms. Funk, a straight-A student who will enter Yale this fall, will spend nine weeks researching, meeting with her adviser, Diane Levine, a Bryn Mawr teacher, and writing a 35- to 60-page research paper. She also will attempt what many pros have failed to achieve: getting an interview with the elusive Ms. Tyler.

"I'm interested in how the writers influenced Baltimore with their work," she says, "and how Baltimore influenced them."

DTC For some artists, only a painting the size of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, a book the length of "War and Peace," a carving on the scale of Mount Rushmore could possibly capture the complexities of life. But for others, like Lutherville's Inara Knight, the simplest bauble of glass holds mystery enough.

"Beads are my life," says this former teacher, photographer, advertising rep, knowing as she does she's overstating things a bit. But only a bit, for in the world of beads, things are measured by little bits.

Always interested in art, Ms. Knight says she never found her true medium until a 1991 class in North Carolina that opened her eyes to the joys of bead-making. Two years ago, she gave up a full-time job to spend her days in a basement studio using a propane torch to turn colored glass rods into multicolored beads, which she sells either individually or as pieces of jewelry.

"The more you learn about beads the more you want to learn," says Ms. Knight, who has since become president of the Baltimore Bead Society. Its 120 members gather regularly to compare beads and hear guest speakers discuss some aspect of the craft.

"Beads have been part of society since groups of people banded together," she says. "They have been worn for protection, for good health, for safety. They're nice to hold and feel and touch."

And they are fairly hot right now. "With the economy the way it is, a lot of people want to make their own jewelry rather than buy it," she says, noting that Baltimore and Washington both boast several shops that sell beads exclusively and have classes on their use.

Have someone to suggest? Write Suzanne Loudermilk, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or call (410) 332-6156.

Patrick A. McGuire

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