Today is overcast, gray, warm. I’m wearing a necklace I will really miss this year. Large beads of African green amber are linked together with gold wire in ‘messy’ wraps and doubled jump rings. There is no clasp; the necklace is the perfect length to slip over my head. If I have to take a trip and think I only want to take one necklace, this is the one.
This long strand of tiny copper beads has an Elaine Ray handmade ceramic heart tied onto it with mustard-colored silk cording. It’s a really simple design, but this necklace somehow works for so many days. I wore it on Friday, traipsing around New Bern, NC, with my family. We were in and out of several Colonial-era homes and gardens and at least one gift shop. We saw Federal-style windows, Withdrawing Rooms, spinettes, pot hooks, butler’s closets and more bonnet-wearing Interpreters than you can shake a stick at. The day was lovely.
I have to remember to have my husband take my picture early in the day. Today I forgot and it’s about 10:00 pm and I am tired. I taught a class and did about 1,000 other things already today.
One thing that was good was that I wore this necklace. I love this necklace. It has Imperial Jasper, carnelian discs, vintage 1800’s green amber beads, old cloisonne, coral, wood, mother-of-pearl, you name it. I made this on a trip where I packed a bag with many ‘favorite’ beads that hadn’t been used. I intended to pack a bunch of filler items as well but somehow forgot. Over that weekend I made five go-for-broke necklaces filled with some of my very favorite beads. All just strung up; I didn’t have chain or anything else to use with the beads. Each necklace was different but they all share some common beads and they actually look good together, in a very Frieda Kahlo way.
I have just decided that this blog will sometimes include layered necklaces (meaning two or more at a time) but that when I do that at least one of the items I wear will be a ‘new’ design. That way I can show you how this looks all stacked up one day.
Right now I’m headed to sleep.
We have new, tiny pet chickens at our house. After my long day at work yesterday, I wanted to do nothing more today than hang out at home on the back porch and hold the chicks. Birthday parties and friends I miss and even a horse-back-riding lesson got in the way. I threw on a strand of African bone beads over an ombre russet tee and an ankle-grazing denim skirt. It was all I could do.
African trade beads come into my bead collection on their long raffia strands with the wrapped and tied backs. They tend to stay that way. Very seldom will I cut them and break them up into other designs; usually I just end up wearing them pulled over my head. I layer them up in ones or twos or threes or tens. I think that sometimes that is the best way to wear them and that they really don’t need my additions or mussing around. Is that the whole simplicity vs. laziness thing again?
There is some real beauty to multiple strands of beads hung around the neck. A nice simplicity to the no-clasp length. An artifact-like quality to those hand-made beads on that gathered grass strand. After all, one of the reasons I love to work with beads and to make jewelry is the connection to one of the earliest identified bits of human material culture. In those sandy, stony graves where pollen grains and skull fragments are painstakingly dusted with slim brushes there are always beads.
Apes and birds make tools. We alone make jewelry.
This necklace is 34″ long and contains African green amber, some fiber-wrapped beads from the Phillipines and even a bit of chain. I think I made it around 6 years ago. I was on a trip to NYC for business and I kept seeing all these long necklaces. I hadn’t really worn anything longer than 20″ or so for a while. Of course, I travel with beads so I strung this up in the hotel room one night while watching cable tv. It ended up matching a dress I bought the next day at that huge H&M at 7th & 34th. That store always looks like it was just ravaged by zombies minutes before you entered. I rarely find anything there but the store is so big and full of promise I always try. That day I pulled a swirly, flowery brown dress off a rack and it fit and didn’t seem like it would fall apart the first time I wore it.
I think I wore this necklace for a month straight after I made it. I always wanted a black version but every one I made just seemed wrong.
I still have the dress, too.