Friday, July 04, 2008

Art Day

A few years ago, Husband took a trip to Nigeria and Kenya and came back with several strands of trade beads. We have been pulling them apart ever since for necklaces and bracelets, but then we put them away. This past week, I pulled them out of a drawer and used some to make earrings. These are my favorite:

and here are a couple more:

and a couple more:

All I knew about these beads was that they were old, but after comparing them with images of beads I have seen on line, they appear to be from the 1900s or as late as the 1950s. People in West Africa, especially in Ghana, still make these beads as part of their local industry, but ours seem to match the older warn beads that have been around long enough to get roughed up.

For centuries, these beads have been made by grounding up scrap glass like old bottles or window panes and in some some cases Venetian glass beads, pouring the dry powder into molds, and firing the molds in kilns. In parts of Africa, beads were used as currency which meant they were used to buy and sell not just food and tools but slaves as well. At first I was glad my beads weren't old enough to be part of the slave trade, but there is something redeeming about taking a trinket representing the worst of mankind and using it for art, or at least jewelry.

7 comments:

dive said...

Wow, Robyn! Those are lovely!
Yet another achievement to add to your already ridiculously long list of skills. Hee hee.
Happy Fourth of July to you and the family.

Alifan said...

Well, Dive beat me to saying another skill you have... well done I think they are so lovely .... still not as wonderful as my braclet you made me though!!!!!

Have a happy day....

MmeBenaut said...

Happy 4th July Robyn. I'm thinking that there is simply no end to your talent and creativity. Where does a busy mother & wife find time to do all of these things? I guess you need to keep that active brain busy. Could you come down here and give me a hand please? I have a list of "to do" things a mile long - besides the ironing ...

Scout said...

Dive, happy fourth to you, too, even though you don't acknowledge it as an official holiday.

Alifan, thank you. I have ordered some sterling silver to replace the cheap stuff.

Mme Benaut, I do like to stay busy, and it helps that I don't work full time. The great thing about making earrings is that they are quick to put together as long as you have the proper tools. I would LOVE to come visit and help you out, but I will not dig out old foliage where there might be snakes. Maybe I can just help with all the cats.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

These are fantastic!!! So talented.

MmeBenaut said...

Ha ha Robyn. The snakes are hibernating in the winter time so there is nothing to fear. But just in case, I'll put you on cat cuddling or koala spotting duty!!

Anonymous said...

Robyn...you are the most disciplined person I know at taking care of yourself and expanding your horizons. Have a relaxing weekend at the lake.