Today, I wanted to do a Throwback Thursday post featuring some very interesting beads. These beads have a very distinctive yellow and black stripes and I was actually buying another set of beads when I spotted them. They reminded me so much of bees and in fact, these Venetian beads called bumble bee trade beads. They are glass wound beads and were made between the latter half of the 1800s to the first years of the 1900s. With these beads, I wanted to make something that would really show them off. The first obvious choice was black but when I paired them with my black beads, it seemed to dim the cheerfulness of the bumble bees. But as it so happened, I had a bagful of vintage French yellow glass beads that I had previously bought and it turned out to be the right combination! I bought these yellow glass beads from someone whose husband used to work in a bead and button shop in the early 30s in Paris. And when he died, he had a good number of buttons and beads left over from when he was working and his widow was selling them off little by little. I was quite happy to buy the yellow ones from her!
At the next show I did, the necklace attracted a good number of admirers and finally it was purchased by a lady who owned her own jewelry store! She was quite taken by it, calling it a unique looking piece and she loved the fact that the beads were quite old. She told me that she rarely bought jewelry anymore since she sees so much of it in her own store. And I was pleased beyond belief that she found something she loved in my booth!
Hello friends, during the long weekend I took out some trade beads and tried something new with them. I remembered one necklace I made using the blue “fried egg” trade beads and some braided cord and it occurred to me that that piece turned out pretty well. (See the necklace here). So I took out some of my bigger trade beads (these beads date back to the late 19th century) and paired them up with some soft cords. The first one (pictured above) features an elbow shaped trade bead with a lovely red and green checkerboard pattern. To mix it up a little, I decided to add some green and mustard yellow trade beads to the piece.The second piece likewise features an elbow bead with a checkerboard pattern but this one is a bright, almost neon orange color which I rarely, if ever see in beads, and some green and white canes. I lucked out and found two other beads in the same pattern and so it seemed fitting to put all three together. I quite like the combination of glass beads on a soft cord. Its pretty without being too frou-frou.
Once I had finished these two pieces, I turned my hand to making something pretty with these small millefiori beads that have been rattling awhile in my bead box for awhile now. These millefioris date back to the early 20th century and have the typical Venetian canes. As they’re on the small side I decided to make a double dangling pair of earrings as well as a double strand bracelet. They may be small but they have a certain presence!
All these items will soon be loaded up in the shop!
Trade beads are one of my most favorite beads to work with. The variety of patterns, and different colors make them interesting and different. I really think that they make for wonderful additions to one’s jewelry box and they can easily jazz up any outfit. Because they are so colorful and inevitably full of pattern, I’ve tried to make these pieces relatively simple in style. These three pieces featured here are great examples of what I mean.
The first piece (pictured above) features bright yellow trade beads with red canes running in the middle of the bead. I’ve had these yellow beads for awhile but I didn’t really know how I would style it. Then when I went to Tucson for the gem fair, I found this red bead which I realized was the exact same pattern as the canes running through the yellow beads. The beads on this necklace date back to the late 19th century. I didn’t want this piece to be overwhelming so I decided to go for a sautoir style necklace. I think this style makes these beads more wearable. Just layer over a plain shirt and you’re good to go.
The second piece features two black eye beads from the Venetian trade and a lovely Venetian fancy trade bead. While the Venetians were master bead makers, they were greatly inspired by ancient Islamic bead makers. One pattern they took and made their own was the eye motif which was greatly prized by Africans. The eye beads were believed to be powerful protection against the evil eye. The two black eye beads featured here are the Venetians version of an ancient Islamic bead and date back to the 19th century. The yellow fancy bead on the other hand is the Venetian version of the highly prized African Bodom bead. The Venetian versions are increasingly difficult to find and I was lucky to have found an excellent specimen. For these beads, I decide to make a shorter necklace that’s designed to sit on the collarbone. Perfect under button down shirts!
And last but not the least is this bracelet composed of blue and yellow trade beads. While the colors are the same, the pattern is not exactly the same. The small football shaped beads are harder to find than the round ones and the canes used in the beads are more apparent here. Eh voila… a couple of new pieces to start the week on the right note!