Antique African Djenne trade beads

Meet the oldest beads I own. I have strung these Djenne beads into a 27″ triple strand necklace with Italian seed beads as spacers. Lois Scherr Dubin, in The History of Beads, writes that “all the glass beads excavated from Djenne in Mali date to the later phases of the Islamic period, c. A.D. 1000-1400.” They are beautiful things, some with the iridescence that glass can get when it is buried for a very long time. I am honored to be their custodian.

Waxed cotton bracelet

So, beading time has been scarce, but I made this little bracelet. I’m going to make a couple more, wrapping the waxed cotton between the beads twice to see if the color will show more. It should also decrease the curve a little; this bracelet almost wants to corkscrew. I was inspired by several examples of this style of bracelet online, using various things where I used beads. It’s really fast, and really effective. I think a stack of them would be attractive and fun.

Knotting pearls

All of those pictures of Tucson bead shows with their tables of pearls reminded me that I have these funky brown keishi pearls waiting for me, and that I’d purchased orange silk for knotting them. I bought my pearls locally, and the button hiding the knot is a vintage button I purchased at General Bead in San Francisco. My knotting isn’t professional and smooth, but it’s in character with the pearls.

I also spent some time picking up my work area. It will be easier for me to bead now; I don’t need it to be perfectly neat, but a big mess makes me want to avoid my work table. I also made lists of projects I’d like to do soon. Now, what’s the next bead project, hmm….

Vintage German flowers

Sylvia came back from Tucson with a gift for me of these amazing beads. The core colors are varying shades of orange, with a milky-colored-glass covering, and while I believe these are pressed, not cut — they appear cut. Look at the glow!

I tried combining them with a matching Italian milky-white seed, it looked boring. I tried various oranges, but that didn’t work either. So thinking of the color wheel, I ventured generally to its opposite side and came up with this light blue. Now the oranges are more noticeable and vibrant.

Vintage Italian seeds and silver “coral”

The hazard of putting supplies away is that you find things with which to play!  I purchased this silver-plated bead from Rings & Things that looks like a coral branch perhaps two months ago, because it appealed to me — no intended purpose.  It was in a pile to put away (yes, it can take me months), as were some vintage seed beads.  I keep my vintage separate from the rest of my seeds, and when I opened that drawer, I spotted these lovely watery-looking vintage Italian seeds.  They were a gift from a relative several years ago, and a very thoughtful gift, especially as she’s not a beader; she just had fun shopping for me.  The writing on the bag says they are circa 1930, from Italy.

I added the rice pearls for a continuation of the watery theme.  I tried several different coral-colored beads, but they were too strong of a contrast to these blue beads.  The clasp could definitely be better, but I don’t keep many clasps in stock, and this is what I had on hand.  A vaguely anchor-looking bar to the toggle makes it okay.  I would prefer sterling to this pewter, but it’ll be just fine.


This necklace is quite short — the shortest inner strand is 13 1/2″, the coral strand is 16″.  The shortest two strands fit around the base of my neck, and the coral rests below.  I used multiple strands to try to balance the visual weight of the piece of coral with the seed beads.

Hang the Moon

Check out what my friend Cyndi Lavin did with the bail I designed for the open Swarovski square:

Lavin Hang Moon

Photograph by Cyndi Lavin, used with permission.

I love it!  Here are her instructions.  If you don’t already have the bail instructions (B&B Creative Beading vol 4, or B&B December 2007), you can purchase them from Buy The Kit (select my name, you’re looking for Simple Solutions earrings).