From an Amazon email, I learned that there is going to be a book on Monkeybiz, a South African project reviving beadwork by providing beads to disadvantaged women in Cape Town. They can work from home, and still look after their family and avoid transportation costs. This nonprofit organization puts profits back into the community through fair payment for bead art, and provision of community services. Their beadwork has traveled the world, from Norway to Madison Avenue.

There was a collection of Monkeybiz beadwork on display November 2007 at the Hennepin County Government Center (where I helped display the Bead Quilt several years ago). I took some pictures, and got them out of my files to share. Enjoy!









September 26, 2014 EDIT:

I think I bought THIS elephant!

I was in a local thrift shop this week, and I saw a flash of pink beads as I was walking through the home decor area. I tugged out a pink beaded elephant from the bottom shelf – someone had bent the legs to fit on the shelf. I thought, “Monkeybiz?” – and bought it. I brought it home, image searched it, and found the picture – on my own blog. In my defense, if you glance at the post date on this, I wrote this in 2008, and I saw the beadwork in 2007. Now, sitting down to reply to a kind comment that the original link was broken and fix the link, I look at the picture again. On the blue part of the head, you see a jag in the diamond by the lower part of the ear as the artist left out the pink beads. The one I bought? The same thing! Wow.

Warping a Mirrix, part 2

Okay, I’m another hour and 45 minutes into it. It took me an hour and 15 minutes to wind off enough thread to complete warping it, wrap that onto a paper tube (worked great), and to finish warping it. (I made a mistake and had to go back probably 5 warps at one point.)


Then it’s on to figuring out heddles. In 30 minutes, I’ve put on 1″ of heddles (this is about 6″ wide). In that time, I did have to go back and pick up a warp pair that I’d left out. I need another hand, or something, but there’s not room for it.


I’m right-handed, and the instructions say to work from right to left if you’re right-handed. So, I pick up the next pair of warp threads. Keeping them both on my right pointer finger, I’m using my left hand to loop a heddle over the heddle bar, around the first warp, and over the heddle bar again. Then repeat with the other warp in the pair, and the other heddle bar.

I think I need to try to have the second warp in the pair rest on my middle finger? That way I can use my thumb and first finger on my dominant hand to help loop the heddle around the warp, that might speed it up.

Watching me warp a loom is like watching paint dry. Be glad you’re not seeing this in real time!!

Warping a Mirrix, part 1

I recently bought a Mirrix loom from a friend. The loom I have is the “The Little Guy,” the smallest loom designed for heddles. I can (in theory) weave a fiber or bead tapestry up to 9″ wide and 22″ long.

So, I started warping it. The last heddled loom I warped, back in the 70’s, was an inkle loom. I can’t even promise that I did that on my own, I just don’t remember.

I used the print instructions that came with the loom, the Mirrix online instructions, and the instructions on My Father’s Beads. There is a Mirrix Yahoo group, which I will likely be joining. There is a DVD which I can purchase from Mirrix.

All the instructions say to do something small first. I don’t want to; I want to loom what I want to loom! I’m doing something similar to the vessel in the header of this blog, and on the front page of my website. I’m taking an abstract painting and beading it. The idea is that I’ll tape the picture behind the loom, and just bead the color that’s next. If I can loom this way, that would be great. I really don’t want to be counting beads, like doing counted cross stitch.

So, I’m warping for a 6 1/4″ x 5 1/2″ piece. In two hours, this is how much I have done, slightly over 1/2 of the width. Some of that time was figuring out the instructions though, so I am moving faster now.


I’m at a stopping point for two reasons. The first is that I have to go to work. The second is that I’m warping with this:


This 8oz spool of bonded nylon now just barely fits between the header bar and warping bar, the thread and the side bar of the loom. Each dent in the spring coil has 2 threads in it (2 threads to allow for the heddles and essentially a double warp). To get those 2 threads on requires picking up and putting down this large cone 6 times. I have to put the cone up over the top, down under the bottom (I have it elevated on a couple of boxes), between the header and warping bar, and between the warping bar and bottom bar.

So here’s what I have to do before I can continue warping: I have to figure out how many yards of thread it takes to fill each dent, I have to wind that much off the cone (plus 25%?) — while it’s still attached to the loom — and then wind it onto something smaller. So I’m going to have yards and yards of thread piled on the floor, and I’m going to have to wind it on something (cardboard tube?) from the cut end. Without tangling it.

Surprisingly, I’m not frustrated!

Please think positive thoughts that I’m doing this right. After I warp it, I have to put on the heddles. At that point, I’ll know if I’ve done it right.

BFAC 2009 complete

Okay, I finished the necklace. I decided for a mass of herringbone ropes and strung beads, all about the same length. They sort of self-tangle; not a mess, but cross each other as in the picture below. I like the look. The length is adjustable from 24″ to 27″. The findings are brass and base metal (the chain and clasp are brass). I wore it for several hours today, and the counterweight on the clasp worked well. I also received many positive comments. Now, off to AJ, the BFAC official photographer, to wait its turn for the next set of auctions.

Don’t forget to look at the current set of auctions, the schedule is available here.




“… has a quality like real semi-precious jewels…”

A friend gave me these today, found at a garage sale. The original price tag said 29 cents. The color isn’t quite right, it should be that scary almost-pink orange of “real semi-precious jewels.” Truth in advertising, dontcha know!



BFAC 2009 – ropes ropes ropes!

Well, I think I’m maybe done with the herringbone ropes for this project. I have, let’s see, more than 5 FEET of herringbone rope in the coil below. Oh, and for a break? I made myself a herringbone bracelet.


I’m waffling on how to put these ropes together, and I’m going to have to play with them to decide. Do I want a smooth group of them, all the same length? Maybe. Do I want a graduated drape? I don’t think so. Do I want them neatly braided? I don’t think so either. Tangled artfully? Maybe. (Anyone have instructions on ‘artfully tangling?!’ I know of this one, and I’ll try it.)

Current thinking has me stringing a strand of the bronze hexes, a strand of the bronze bugles, a strand of the 4mm orange squares, and a strand of the green sixes. The 8s would just be used to cap these ropes. This still leaves me the Swarovskis, the drops, and the cathedral beads. I may try for a pendant, or hang them off the clasp somehow. One step at a time….