Posted on Leave a comment

My first trade beads


Many years ago, I had the chance to visit the Fabled Rice Terraces in the Northern Highlands of the Philippines. This is a beautiful region of the country, filled with majestic views of the mountains and of course, the terraces which were carved entirely by hand by the Ifugao people 2000 years ago. It’s a breathtaking place and I have beautiful memories of our trip there. I also have fond memories of the kindness of the people there. They do beautiful bead work and colorful textiles but what really caught my attention was the jewelry they wore. They had beautiful glass bead necklaces. Now mind you, this was way way before I had an interest in beads, much less the idea of creating jewelry. Jewelry has always been an abiding interest and they had some pretty special ones. One spectacular piece worn by a village elder had glass beads with real gold embedded inside. There must have been at least 10 beads in the necklace and because it was an old piece, it had the most beautiful patina. Then they explained that their beaded jewelry were family heirlooms, passed from mother to daughter in each family. And that a lot of their beads were made in Itsaly and they acquired them from the Spanish Galleon trade! I was completely fascinated by the idea of these beads traveling on Spanish galleons and making their way to these mountains. Its literally a piece of history. When I asked if there was a necklace or 2 for sale, even the most simple one, they all shook their heads negatively.
Oh well, I thought to myself, I guess it’s not meant to be.
Then on our last day, one of the women, said she might know someone willing to sell me a necklace or two and whether I was still interested. How could I not be?
She then took me to another family’s house where the family matriarch asked me why I wanted their necklace. And I said that I liked them because they were a piece of history and that I would be honored to wear it. I still don’t know why that convinced her but she agreed to sell me what you now see here.
Fast forward to now, after hours and hours of reading and research and other purchases, I know now these beads to be white hearts and simple eye beads from Venice but they will always have a special place in my collection.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Perfect Souvenir


Over the summer, while in a Greece, I became slightly obsessed by the Greek mati. I loved the idea of a talisman to ward off the evil eye. At its simplest, the evil eye is thought to be a look given to inflict harm, bad luck or misfortune to anyone perceived to be too successful. To be sure, this belief is not limited to the Greeks. It is prevalent in the Mediterranean countries but also in Turkey, Brazil and even Asia. Thus, evil eye charm was born to deflect the potentially harmful and malicious gaze of others. It has since become one of the most prevalent and strongest symbols in the world.

So I wanted to find the perfect charm to bring back home. And I wanted if possible an old Greek mati. Unfortunately, this proved to be elusive. Numerous vendors at the shops and flea market all told me the same thing– there are no more old mati symbols to be found. I had to be content with more modern interpretations.

Luckily I chanced upon a local jewelry company called Gregio, which featured the mati in a number of their gorgeous designs. They were all very pretty and wearable things so I was pretty spoilt for choice. Best of all, it was a local designer so I could support someone local!
Here are the two pieces I ended up getting! They make for the perfect souvenir that I could wear all year round!


Posted on Leave a comment

At work

Hello friends, it’s a late post today but I couldn’t resist sharing what I was working on today. And I’m really happy because for once I’m working with a full strand of beads.
This is a strand of gorgeous early 20th century wedding cake beads from Venice. I have a particular weakness for wedding cake beads. I think they’re just beautiful with their decorative trailings and flowers.

I thought I’d start with a pair of earrings. These are almost finished. Oh and I’ve decided that from now on, all my earrings will have gold filled posts. Gold filled findings contain a thick and solid wash of actual gold so it’s much more durable and long lasting. It’s the perfect complement to my beautiful beads!


Posted on Leave a comment

Throwback Thursday : a childhood game


I was at an antique mall recently and I came across these jumbo jacks. It brought back such a rush of memories. I can remember playing with these all through my childhood. I remember sitting on the ground at the school yard heedless of my mother’s efforts to keep my school uniform crisp and crease free, as I played with like minded girls. Thanks to this game, I’d come home with dirt and grime under my nails but exhilarated with the way I played and levels I reached with jacks. In this day and age of iPads and iPods, wifi and wii, it’s nice to see that games like this are still around, a throwback to simpler days and simpler pleasures.

Posted on Leave a comment

Travel Tuesday: Greece

Hello friends, today I thought I’d share some scenes from our recent trip. Much as I hate to admit it, there’s a crispness to the air that signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall. These pictures are a way of holding on to summer just a wee bit longer.

A view of the Aegean Sea

A distant view of the Parthenon

It wouldn’t be Greece without the ubiquitous mati that wards off the evil eye


Posted on Leave a comment

Travel Thursday

Hello friends, today I thought I’d mix it up on the blog and do a travel post instead of a Throwback Thursday post. Wherever I am, I always find myself checking out local bead shops. It’s always interesting to see what’s available and one way or another I always come away inspired.
Sometimes I’ll even get lucky and find some old beads I can use for my own jewelry.

This time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I am right smack in the heart of bead street. I got positively giddy when I realized that Corso Vittorio Emanuel in Palermo has so many bead stores lining its entire length. I haven’t walked the whole stretch of it but the short distance I covered already had 5 stores! Of course my euphoria was a bit tempered because all the stores carried the whole spectrum of gemstones and semi-precious stones but not one of them had the antique beads I was looking for.
Still and all, there were so many wonderful gems and beautiful findings that I could have easily spent the whole day in these stores. Oh I did stumble, just before heading back, on one store that had some vintage silver charms. Maybe I should get one of them…


Posted on Leave a comment

Getting ready for fall

Hello friends, hope your week is off to a good start. Today I wanted to feature one of my new pieces for fall. While it still feels like summer, the kiddies are getting ready to hit the books which means fall isn’t too far off now.
This piece is a necklace composed of three Italian trade beads from the late 19th century on a beautiful vintage gold chain (new old stock from Paris) from the 50s. Just look at the focal bead… you can clearly see the different glass canes used in this bead. I love its fall colors of dark red, mustard yellow and brown too!