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On the trail of a book


Silver treasures from the land of sheba

One of the nice things about bead research is the way the trail leads to other interesting reads, especially on jewelry.   I’ll be reading something on beads and very often its bibliography yields a whole other list of books to read.  One of the things that struck me when I first started reading up on beads is how often they’ve been used on ethnic jewelry. And ethnic jewelry is a whole other fascinating field! So many great books on this subject.   One highly anticipated book is Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba, Marjorie Ransom’s book on traditional Yemeni jewelry (Isn’t this a lovely title? Photo courtesy of Oxford University Press website). I’ve been waiting anxiously for its release since last year, but it seems its publication date has once again been pushed to April 2014.

So I was delighted when I came across an article she wrote in 2012 on this topic in the Saudi Aramco World website. It even features a wonderful video of a silversmith.  Reading this makes me anticipate her book even more!  Here is the article in full. Enjoy!!

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Keeping warm

It’s sub zero temperatures once again in our part of the world. I think this weekend will be all about staying warm and comfy. And what better way to while away the time than reading some good books and maybe a movie or two.


Oh and if you like lists, here is a list of the top new books of 2014.
Wishing everyone a safe and wonderful weekend!

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Throwback Thursday


When I first started, I didn’t take any pictures of the earliest pieces. When I finally started to have a bit more inventory, taking pictures became a good way to keep track of them. It is even more important when the piece sells before I can properly include it in the inventory. I was going through my pictures when this one caught my eye. All the pieces in this frame sold last year. And now that I check the inventory, it turns out that I didn’t have the chance to record two pieces here–the red flower charm necklace and the blue pendant necklace. I guess this was a lucky grouping and I’m lucky to have this picture as a keepsake!

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What’s in a name?

One of the great things about trade beads is that they’ve acquired all sort of names over the years. They can be wonderfully descriptive. Take the beads on this necklace — they’re called the fried egg trade beads because of its distinctive yellow on white pattern. To be honest they also somewhat look like paint splatters to me but perhaps the person who coined that name was dreaming of fried eggs at that time and the name stuck. I guess I’ll never know. But I do know that these fried egg beads were made between the middle of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century.
I thought that since the beads themselves are very distinctive, I would keep the rest of the necklace simple. I like the juxtaposition of the soft braided cord and glass beads. This pairing is a bit of a departure for me and I like its final effect of being feminine without being sugary sweet.

Here are the beads up close :


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Weekend reading


Hello friends, we’ve got a long weekend ahead of us and I’m going to dive head first into this gorgeous book.  It’s pages and pages of beautifully photographed Venetian beads with a short chapter on the history of bead making in Venice. This bead loving heart of mine is happy at the prospect of such reading!

And while we’re on the subject of gorgeous books, check out this absolutely stunning new book on jewelry.

Happy Weekend everyone!!

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Saving art


All too often, the news coming out of Detroit is grim. Crime. Corruption. Politics. Poverty. These are unfortunately the all too common headlines that give the city an extremely unsavory air. And to think that not so long ago, Detroit was one of America’s richest cities. Remnants of its once rich past is most evident in the Detroit Institute of Arts or the DIA. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to have such a rich and varied collection. No wonder some parties want to sell the collection to help alleviate creditor claims against the city in its bankruptcy proceedings. Is it selfish to wish that the DIA’s collection remain intact so that we can enjoy it’s art? What use is this beautiful art if there are people who have no means to live after their retirement because the city’s coffers are empty?
I don’t presume to know the answer to such thorny questions but I do feel that to break apart the collection means losing little by little the city’s soul. Yes we must have the means to live but we must also feed our soul and what better way than through art.
This is why, I was so happy to hear about the recent news pledging 330M dollar donation to save the DIA. There’s a long way to go but at least there’s hope along the way .

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Snapshots from the DIA


It’s been awhile since I’ve been inside a museum and today’s afternoon at the Detroit Institute of Art was a lovely surprise.
Here are a few of the many treasures that caught my eye.

Caravaggio’s Mary and Magdalene


Camille Pisarro’s The Paths


Van Gogh’s Bank of the Oise sur Auvers


A huge mural by Diego Rivera


And just before leaving , I saw Canaletto’s Piazza San Marco


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Stuck on a piece


I don’t know why but I seem to be a little stuck. I woke up today all excited to work on this beautiful Venetian fancy bead which dates back to the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Several hours later, all I’ve managed to do with it is to wire wrap the ends. Can I still blame the polar vortex for this? (Apologies for yesterday’s post where I said polar freeze instead of vortex, though to be honest polar freeze seems pretty apt too!) Maybe it’s just one of those days…..

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Polar freeze


I think it’s safe to say that I’ve never been so cold as I’ve been these past few days. At one point we went down to minus 27 F with the wind chill factor. Then I heard that this unseasonable and extraordinary weather was due to polar freeze. Well, then, it’s little wonder that it’s been freezing. We got so much snow that our poor bushes have pretty much disappeared!


So I’ve been busy cocooning myself with gorgeous jewelry books, all in the name of inspiration and research of course.


And I’ve started to think about the upcoming first collection for 2014. I sorted out some beads from the bead box and this strand caught my eye….I’m excited to see how they turn out. Soon as I thaw out, I will start working on them!


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Starting the year on the right foot

Hello friends, I hope your first of the year is a beautiful one! I recently acquired some gorgeous and rare beads and I thought what better way to start the year than to create something beautiful with them.
These beads are called pineapple beads after their distinctive pattern and they were made between the mid to late 1800s for the African trade. They are quite difficult to come by and I am very fortunate to add these to my collection.