Tag Archives: trade beads

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

28 Jul


When in doubt, wear the black wrap dress and all your favorite jewelry. It never fails.


Sunday, August 31st

31 Jul


Today was a rare mostly-rainy August day. Overcast, humid, hot.

This long strand of trade beads was purchased almost twenty years ago in Austin, Texas at a store that sold record albums.

Yeah, you read that right. Record albums.

Monday, May 9th

9 May

Really, what can you do with 1,000 year old Roman glass beads?
Other than pair them with copper trade beads and go about your day.

Friday, April 8th

8 Apr


This necklace is made with 20 feet of 24 gauge sterling silver wire strung with old watermelon-green chevron trade beads. I started by making a hook on one end of the wire and then strung the beads. I created a loop 16″ down the wire and then wrapped, twisted and twined the remaining wire back and forth along the length of the necklace. I didn’t intend to use all 20′ of the wire but I actually feel like the necklace could use more wrapping, not less.

I wear this a lot; it’s simple, comfortable and elegant. I love the idea of creating the entire necklace-clasp too-with a single length of wire.

Wednesday, April 6th

6 Apr


So here I am, popping my collar with this sweet and simple C’est La Vie necklace. The center piece is an enameled plaque made for scrap booking that I suspended from some silk dupioni ribbon. There are knots holding the plaque in place and I slipped large copper beads from Ghana over the knots. There is a clasp in the back. This necklace looked promising on my work table but I rarely wear it. The plaque can flip over pretty easily and the ribbon is a tad too long. I know, I could just re-do the whole thing.

Do you ever have that happen? You make a piece and it just doesn’t work so you think that…someday…you’ll get around to redoing it. That is hard work, isn’t it. The first flush of excitement with that new bead or pendant is gone and the next idea might be better. At least, you hope it will be better. I am realizing with this blog that I rarely redo an item if it does not work out.


Tuesday, April 5th

5 Apr


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.

Thursday, March 31st

31 Mar



This necklace is made from very old African recycled glass beads strung on 2mm leather cording. Tied between the cording I have bits of olive green silk ribbon. What you can’t see is that on the back of this very heavy necklace there are four strands of leather strung with a good number of those African beads. The beads hanging down my back are interesting to look at, but more importantly they provide a counterweight for the front of the necklace. This heavy necklace is comfortable because of these counterweights.

If you want to see more examples of counterweights used in necklaces visit your local museum and check out ethnographic jewelry exhibits. You’ll see long tassels, beaded drops and long chain counterweights hanging from beaded collars and other large-scale necklaces.

Sunday, March 13th

13 Mar

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.