Friday, November 12, 2010

A Peek into the Printers Drawer!

No. 5

Compartment No.5 contains African Bauxite, which I recently learned is not a clay as it feels like, but an aluminum ore. I love the way they look dug up from the earth and ancient from their uneven edges. I use them for spacers or to make a average bracelet look more unusual by including a particularly banged up looking one.
 The Fisherman

Here one broke up a line of turquoise heishi by being strung asymmetrically off to the side;

Jasper Blossom

Here is a strand from Coast Mountain Crafts. They are not as worn and aged as mine but they have a good color variation in them. I also found some here from ebay at half the price!

I have a friend who is traveling Africa right now as she puts together a book for World Watch Institute called The State of The World. She has researched how poverty stricken states in third world countries farm and feed themselves. She has very kindly sourced fair trade beads handmade by African hands and brought me strands and strands of them! Each strand is huge and multi-colored so I am doing a little research on the type of bead it is before sharing them. I have several ideas for jewelry projects that contain authentic African bead work. I know the market is not really big for that, most of us are still influenced by the whimsy that is holding strong in our how to magazines. But perhaps there is a way to combine the 2 influences and create something spectacular and new!
So come back and visit me for that, it is a side project to all the other stuff going on right now but my favorite part of designing! I hope to have something to show for my research within a few weeks, maybe 4 if I'm honest with myself.  


  1. How lucky to have a friend to bring you Beads I look forward to your post later. Oh nearly forgot, why not come and join my Black friday giveaway.

  2. I will be sure to check back because I love African beads! I have a friend who travels to Ghana every year and has promised to bring me beads when he goes again in Feb. 2011.
    Apparently the country is planning an international bead festival and market in hopes of increasing that countries bead exports.

  3. Such a richness to those beads. They have been around the world as silent witness to so much. I love that little raw element in a more refined piece. Maybe with pearls... looking forward to learning more!
    Enjoy the day, Shannon!

  4. Lucky you to have a friend who brings back beads. My sis will be visiting Africa next year and I hope she will bring some home for me. I love the look of trade beads, but haven't been fortunate enough to own any.

    I love your peek into the Printers Drawer series--so much fun!

  5. I also think your 'printer's drawer' series is fantastic. What a great way to look through and show off, even to yourself, what great stuff you have tucked away.

    Those beads are really something special. It's amazing to think of the history and special work that went into each and every one of them. If i knew a source that i knew was based in the community, i would definately order some myself.

  6. I love these little peaks into your beads.
    These beads are so perfectly unperfect.
    How great to have a friend who will bring you beady presents.

  7. very cool! I love what you made with them!

  8. Great post!!!!!

    I have a weakness for bauxite beads myself. I actually have a bunch of different sizes bought at different times in my stash. Would like some bigger ones though.

    I am generally very fond of African beads of different kinds. I think and hope you are right about your future prediction about this whimsical style combined with the earthy rustic trade beads type-o-style.

    All my best!

  9. That first shot is reminding me of a yummy bead stew! Love the colors!

  10. Great post Shannon! I love the rustic look of the authentic African beads. What a wonderful opportunity to have your friend bring you a selection of fair trade beads. Who cares if the market hasn't jumped on the band wagon yet? Your work will inspire them to!

  11. Ooooh trade beads!! I'm rapidly sinking into the whole world of 'how do those crafty tribal peeps make stuff without needing expensive kilns/tools/electricity', so I'm consequently in love with all things tribal and wonky. As if I wouldn't be anyway.

    I think there definitely needs to be an emergence of the rustic tribal in the how-to world. I'm right there with ya!

  12. As far as I'm concerned trade beads have never gone out of style! I've hoarded & created w/ them for the last 30 years.Lucky,lucky you to be getting a new stash direct from the source!

  13. I love African beads and think there is a market for them. The pieces are lovely. I believe there is a market for every style.


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