Discussion Notes

The purposes of the bead studies group are manifold, including to explore new methods of beading, to experiment with variations on traditional techniques, and to study culture-specific beading techniques. The group meets in Nashville, Tennessee the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays from 1-3pm.

If you are in the area, please join us in our discussions. There are no fees.

Current Bead Study Discussion Blog

The current study in September 2005 thru August 2006 is focused on
the bead research of Valerie Hector.

2005-2006 Project: Contemporizing Traditional Beadwork

The Bead Study Group meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesday afternoons of
each month, from 1-3pm. Anyone may participate. There are no fees.

The Bead Study Group is sponsored by The Center For Beadwork &
Jewelry Arts ( in Nashville,
Tennessee. The group is an on-going discussion group related to the
study project called

"How To Bead A Rogue Elephant - Wandering The Paths of An Emerging
Bead Artist"

We will focus on the ideas involved in "Contemporizing"
traditional beadwork. How do you keep beadwork essential and alive?
As text, we will be using The Art of Beadwork by Valerie Hector. In
September of 2006, Valerie will be conducting a 2-day workshop here.

We will be examining traditional beadwork in several different
cultures, including HAN (chinese), Ancient Japanese, Kathi (India),
Sa'Dan Toraja (Indonesia), Ancient Egyptian, Yoruba (Nigeria),
Ndebele (South Africa), 17th C. English, 1920's Austrian, Huichol
(Mexico), Chimu (Peru), and several more. We will be studying
contemporary bead weaving artists, and comparing their pieces to
what may have been traditional influences. We will be
experimenting with designs and techniques to see what we can
achieve, as well.

We will be comparing and contrasting, and experimenting with,
traditional and contemporary concepts of color, pattern, texture and
design, as well as stitchery techniques.

What does "Contemporizing" mean?

- keep traditional images, but put them in new contexts?

- keep traditional techniques, but use new materials?

- extrapolate from traditional images and/or techniques to find new

- bring traditional images and/or techniques into contemporary

- do we try to achieve "art" or "fashion"?

- to what extent should we ignore or incorporate traditional
sensibilities about color and pattern?

- are there universal strategies for contemporizing traditional
beadwork, or must we develop specific strategies for particular

- to make traditional artistic sensibilities more relevant to
contemporary American culture, should we at the same time try to
preserve the traditional cultural and symbolic messages/meanings
associated with their crafts, or ignore these?

Again, how do you keep beadwork essential and alive?

Course Outline:
A. Intro
B. Culture by Culture Inspirations
a. Materials (Beads, Findings, Stringing Materials), Tools, and
b. Fundamentals of Traditional Design – Concepts, Details and
c. Contemporary Approaches to these Traditional Designs
C. In Sept 2006, Valerie Hector will do a presentation and
workshop at Be Dazzled Beads

We will be following Valerie Hector's book, section by section, and
covering these cultures:

Han Beadwork (China)
Ancient Japanese Beadwork
Kathi Beawork (India)
Sa'dan toraja beadwork, sulawesi, Indonesia
Straits Chinese beadwork, penang, Malaysia
Kenyah beadwork, Indonesian/Malaysian borneo
Ambai island beadwork, papua, Indonesian new guinea

Ancient Egypt
Yoruba, Nigeria
Maasai, Kenya
Dinka, sudan
Xhosa, south Africa
Ndebele, south Africa
Msinga (zulu) beadwork, south Africa

17th century English beadwork
J.M.Van Selow beadwork, 1760's germany
Wiener Werkstatte beadwork, 1920s Austria
Funerary beadwork, france

Plans and plateau beadwork
Achomawi/atsugewi beadwork, California
Huichol beadwork, mexico
Chimu beadwork, peru

Further Reading:
The History of Beads (Lois Sherr Dubin)
The New Beadwork (Kathlyn Moss and Alice Scherer)

If you are in Nashville or visiting here, please join us for our bi-
monthly study group which meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays.


Calendar and Process

I need each person coming to the Wednesday sessions to volunteer for
one or more of the topics below. Each person working on each
topic will be responsible for developing materials to lead the whole
group. See the process information below the calendar
information. Let Warren (292-0610) know which topic(s) you want to
volunteer for. Some topics go 2 months, others just 1 month.













Saturday, 9/30/2006 thru Sunday, 10/1/2006
Valerie Hector Presentation and Workshop


1. Show and Tell
2. Old vs. New Comparisons

beauty and appeal
relationship to context and/or culture
color and color blending
adaptive ideas, such as adapting images from nature or biology or
light and shadow
line and shape
movement, moving elements
negative space(s)
themes and symbols
realism vs. abstraction
reinforcement (when something reinforces another thing; example:
use of red in piece
reinforces idea of specific ritual that the culture performs)

3. Work on a project that is indicative of both historical and
contemporary things discussed in the unit
4. Experimentation and Discussion – trying out variations on
stitches and ideas

5. Prepare a bibliography of web-sites, articles and texts
associated with the topic, and to distribute to the group.

Summary of group discussion

We reviewed the calendar and the process information, and were
presented with some examples.

1) COLOR NAMING: Traditional vs. Developed Cultures

There has been a lot of research on how cultures come up with names
for colors. It turns out there seems to be a universal pattern in
color naming across all cultures. In the most traditional
societies, they have only two names: Black and White. When the
societies begin tool use, they add a name for Red. As they become
more sophisticated, they add the names either for Blue, then Green,
or for Green, then Blue. Then they add Yellow, Orange, Purple,
etc. The most developed societies have the most developed number
of color names. Think of the 1200 delicas or 1200 color names for
strung czech glass.

Whether a very traditional or a very developed society, people in
each society can differentiate among all the colors. They just
don't have names for all of them. The suggestion here is that more
contemporary pieces somehow "force" the viewer to label more colors
as seen within the piece.

This research was triggered by a study done among the Cayapo Indians
in the Amazon in Brazil. This very traditional society had 3 color
names (black, white, and red), when doing a ritual or ceremony, but
only 2 color names (black and white), when not doing a ritual or
ceremony. If you asked what they named something that was red
during a nonritual time, they would say black. If you asked the
color of this object during a ritual time, they would say red. If
you asked during a nonritual time, why they had told you earlier
that this object was "red", they would look at you perplexed, and
not understand your question. And vice versa.

Example: we can look at a native american design, say from one of
the pueblos in New Mexico, and the piece would probably be black on
white or white on black, or black on black, with a traditional
native american design motif. The piece would seem clearly native
american. If we superimpose over that design, blocks of tertiary
colors, where the perception of color and color variation seems to
be the primary focus over the native american pattern/motif, the
piece might appear to be very contemporary and non native american.


Horace Goodhue discusses the Daisy Chain Stitch in his book on
Native American beadwork. He presents many variations on this
stitch. Sometimes you get a row of daisies. But you can also get
a more abstract series of diagonals or chevrons, using the same

In the Russian bead weaving book (white text), you see many examples
of jewelry made with the Daisy Chain stitch. These are basically
different ways to organize rows of daisies.

In general, the daisy stitch, most people would agree, is
more "traditional" than "contemporary". Why is that? What about
it makes it feel or appear that way?

Beauty and appeal: seems "provincial". No one asks for classes on
the daisy chain stitch.

Form: very basic form; repetitive

Structure: very basic and easy stitch; repetition of elements

Materials: seed beads; same size bead; variations on colors

Craftsmanship: The Russians seem to have more variety in the use
and presentation of this stitch than the Native Americans, as
detailed in the 2 books

Relationship to context or culture: daisies are probably flowers
that are repeated in patterns on clothing and accessories in the
traditional societies. Traditional societies tend to pick images
more associated with nature; more developed societies tend to pick
images more associated with technology, or technology's control over

Color and color blending: On page 33 of Valerie's book is a picture
of Laura Shea's Rainbow Lei. This is sort of like creating a
contemporary piece using something like a variation on the daisy
chain. This pieces feels and looks contemporary. One aspect of
this is the strategy of color blending -- forcing the viewer to come
up with several "names" for colors in order to appreciate and
discuss the piece. If the piece were just blocks of colors, rather
than blended colors, it might not appear so contempoary or be so
satisfying to a contemporary audience.

In the daisy chain, perhaps doing it with metallic colors might make
it appear more contemporary.

Adaptive ideas: the image of a daisy is adapted for beadwork

Reinforcement: use of the daisy in the beadwork reinforces a sense
of overall connection to nature and the environment. Use of native
american colors within the daisy reinforces a sense of belonging to
native american culture. Repetition of the same stitch over and
over, done the same way by everyone in the group, reinforces as
sense of belonging to the group.

Dimensionality: Again looking at p.33 - Rainbow lei. A daisy
chain stitch is very flat and unidimensional. The Rainbow lei
clearly has substance and multidimensionality. The daisy chain
functions on one plane. The rainbow lei functions on many planes
simultaneously. The greater dimensional complexity seems more
associated with contemporary sensibilities.

Light and Shadow: The daisy chain has little differential effects
of light and shadow. It's flatness and sameness along it's length,
in some ways, ignores the interplay of light and shadow, as
understood as elements of design. In the Rainbow lei (p.33), there
is tremendous interplay between light and shadow, caused partially
by the use of color, and partially by the multidimensionality of the
piece. A strategic interplay of light and shadow seems to be
associated with contemporary sensibilities.

Line and shape: the daisy chain is very linear. Kind of boring.
Not very challenging.

Movement, moving elements: no movement in the daisy chain

Negative spaces: The daisy chain has little negative spaces along
its edges or within the piece. The center of each flower might be
considered a negative space, but the very symetrical repetition of
the form weakens any design impact this might have. In the rainbow
lei, there is incredible use of negative spaces along the outer and
inner edges of the piece. This brings more excitement to the piece.

Symmetry: The daisy chain is very symmetrical, almost to the point
of boring.

Technique: You can use the same stitch and come up with different
patterns, but each pattern is very symmetrical, repetitive, and
someone uninteresting.

Texture: The daisy chain stitch is very flat and untextured

Pattern: The daisy chain is a repetitive pattern.

Themes and symbols: Daisies might symbolize a connection to nature.
They might symbolize other things as well in a particular culture.

Realism vs. abstraction: Daisies are very real. One strategy
of "contemporarizing" might be to create a more complex flower in
the pattern. Another strategy might be to abstract the image of
the daisy, through using different types of beads, or doing the
chain with bugles, or using the chain to form some larger abstract


It seems that if the artist can convey a sense of purpose and
strategy underlying the piece of jewelry, the piece would have a
more contemporary feel to it.

The more contemporary piece would not necessarily be a repetition of
steps over and over. It would feel like something more than that.

In a more contemporary piece, you couldn't assess the whole thing
all at once, or summarize your feelings about the whole thing in a
few short phrases. You would see and want to talk about its many

A contemporary daisy chain piece would somehow transcend the "daisy"
as a motif or image, and also bring the viewer to see/understand
additional forms or images or themes.

A contemporary piece forces the viewer to try to "name" or "label"
many aspects of the piece. It forces/encourages/entices the viewer
to try to articulate what about the piece is pleasing and what about
the piece works from a design sense.


We'll be discussing ancient Chinese jewelry on Wed, 10/5,
particularly the Zhou dynasty (also known as Warring States
Period), Han Dynasty, the Qin (or Quin or Quing) Dynasty, the Tang
Dynasty, and the Song Dynasty.

If you want to do some online research, here are some useful
chinese jewelry
chinese ancient jewelry
han dynasty jewelry
han dynasty art motifs
han dynasty design motifs
chinese art
gallery museum chinese art

In the Valerie Hector book, we will be doing the project on page 34
on the Beaded Polyhedrons. For this project, you will need the
following supplies:

at least 2 colors of 11/0 seed beads
Nymo D thread or C-Lon or Fireline
beading needles
work surface

Some design considerations regarding ancient Chinese jewelry, and
which might have implications for contemporizing this jewelry:
a. Primary purpose was to symbolize social status and wealth
b. Major focus on adorning the head
c. Less use of jewelry, and more of bead embroidery
d. Wealthy people wore jewelry; other people wore little jewelry,
or used jewerly and beads in a utilitarian fashion, such as a means
to secure a lid on a pendant-vessel.
e. Various cultural considerations (including Chinese social
structure, Confucius and Buddhism religions) force a great deal of
sameness and conformity in the designs.

Advanced Bead Study
How to Bead A Rogue Elephant:
The bead research of Valerie Hector

Discussion Notes, 10/5/05

We began the class with a followup to our discussion about the daisy
chain. Andrea had experimented with 3 variations, which all
achieved the goal of contemporizing the stitch. Some variations:
reposition the center bead so it sits sideways to the chain, thus
making the piece more multidimensional; using a flat spacer rondelle
in the center, which squishes the daisy, and gives it forward
movement; outlining the daisy with beads.

We moved into our discussion about Ancient China. Ancient China,
in some ways, is a peculiar place to begin our studies into
contemporizing traditional jewelry design. For most of its
existence, jewelry has not been an important part of dress and
culture. Beginning with the Zhou (Warring States) period, through
the Han, Quin, the Tang and the Song dynasties, jewelry was
primarily used by the upper classes, and only gradually through the
end of this 1500+ years period, adapted by the masses.

The most elaborated jewelry, and the most frequently used pieces,
were used to accent the head. The head was considered the place
where the individual was closest to God. You see headdresses,
earrings, temple pendants, and many types of hair accessories.

Other jewelry -- necklaces, bracelets, rings, anklets -- were less
emphasized. Often these were simple displays of wealth, such as a
string of beads, perhaps with a pendant attached. The Chinese
aristocracy wore necklaces to signal to others how wealthy they
were. While the designs from person to person and piece to piece
are largely simple and plain, the Chinese used beads made up of the
most expensive materials they could find. Bracelets and earrings
were often solid and linear shapes, often ended with the heads of
animals or mythic figures.

We first examined a necklace in the book The History of Beads on
page 162. This was a simple long string of beads with 3 dangling
strings off the top of the necklace.

Could we see someone today wearing this necklace? In what
circumstances? The lines and colors are simple, plain, and could
function in modern times as well as ancient ones. But this necklace
would seem most appropriate in situations of wealth, power and
formality. It wouldn't be worn with T-shirts and tank tops. It
wouldn't be worn in less formal situations. So today, in a sense,
its design would still signify wealth, status and power.

The piece is very flat looking, somewhat boring, a pleasant but
uninteressting display of colors and pattern. The dangles near the
top of the piece seem misplaced. Perhaps they were there to call
attention to the "head" of the person. Perhaps they were extra
beads used to signify wealth. Perhpas they had some special purpose
related to the movement of the wearer.

We looked at other examples of ancient pieces, and some examples of
contemporary Chinese jewelry, taken from various web-sites. There
isn't much change in the 2 thousand years. Even the contemporary
pieces stay close to ancient forms and formats. There can be some
intricate carvings, but the same limited set of geometric forms are
repeated again and again. There's not much individuality expressed
in the various pieces we looked at.

By contrast to the jewelry, there was considerably elaborated and
adorned embroidered pieces, with bead embroidery.

Next, we returned to Valerie Hector's text. We first examined the
bamboo bead undergarment and the modern interpretation of this piece
by Kathryn Harris (see pp 24-25). None of us particularly liked
the contemporary piece. The group consensus seemed to be that we
wanted the contemporary piece to have more references to the
undergarment -- to feel more like cloth, to repeat more of the
netting-like pattern, to seem more Chinese. There are no rules
that "contemporarizing" something must maintain some semblance or
essense of the original piece, but we all seemed to want there to be.

Kathryn Harris picked up on one small design motif in the
undergarment, and expanded on it. She created something multi-
dimensional, repeating lines in the original piece, using glass,
instead of bamboo.

Finally we discussed the Rainbow Lei done by artist Laura Shea.
This is a piece that everyone liked, and felt it succeeded on
several levels (design elements) of contemporary jewelry. We began
to create the 4 beaded beads (instructions begin on page 34).

The assignments for next time:
1. finish up the 4 beaded beads
2. continue researching Chinese, Japanese and Korean jewelry --
contemporary and ancient/antique
3. continue researching the cultures of China, Japan and Korea

Some sources of information:
Freer Gallery
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The History of Beads (Lois Sherr Dubin)


Today we continued with our discussion of ancient Chinese jewelry.
It was important among the Chinese to maintain strong tonal
relationships among the colors in a piece. To us it might seem
boring, but it was a very important goal of the Chinese. It
references and reaffirms the strong cultural forces for assimilation
of many groups within Chinese culture.

A second consideration or value of the Chinese, was that, if the
surface was not to be smooth, then it should be very intricately
worked. Again, among all pieces, there is considerable repetition
of specific designs/patterns, and little individual expression.

In contrast, the Japanese were very concerned that the placement of
different materials among objects in a piece should create some type
of emotional tension or reaction.

We looked at blue and white Chinese porcelain beads. The blue and
white porcelain style was widely copied and disseminated around the
globe. The question today was: can we contemporize this look? We
discussed different possibilities, including:

1. Using 1 or just a few blue/white beads, and making the piece
mostly cobalt or mostly white.
2. Using austrian crystal beads within the piece
3. Using beads made from modern materials in the piece, such as a
lot of sterling silver
4. Using Greek raku beads, with a strong metallic sense, and strong
elements of cobalt blue and earthen colors.

There was a sense that to achieve our goal, we would somehow have to
overwhelm and subdue the blue/white beads. The Greek raku beads
were especially satisfying to the group as a solution. Our choice
emanated the Japanese way of choosing beads/materials and placing
them. That is, we choose very differing materials, and
interrelated them in such a way as to evoke a very positive
emotional response to the jewelry's design.

The rise and spread of Buddhism had a great deal of influence on
jewelry design. Buddhism rose in India. Jewelry from India has a
great deal of eroticism and sensuality about it. As Buddhism
spread east to other cultures, it adapted itself to local religious
and cultural factors. In China, for example, there is none of the
eroticism that you find in India. In India, you see the display
of male and female genitalia, more expressive body positioning, and
the like. In China, these are absent.

Andrea completed her beaded polyhedrons (see Valerie Hector's book,
p. 33). She formed her Eureka bead around a black glass bead.
This, we felt, contemporized the beaded polyhedron even more, but
adding more color contrast, dimensionality, and interplays between
light and dark.

The next session will focus on Japan, Korea, and perhaps Vietnam.

How to Bead Rogue Elephant: Contemporizing Traditional Beadwork

Japan and Korea

Jewelry was not widely worn in China, Korea or Japan.

In China, jewelry was worn to signify social status and wealth.
Either there was an emphasis in each piece on a tonal balance in
coloration, or on intricately carved pieces. In either case, there
was little variation from artist to artist in designs.

In Korea, the object of creating jewelry was to signify some kind of
harmony and balance between nature and human being. Korea
developed very sophisticated techniques of inlay, foiling and
glazing, and brought these techniques to all crafts from metalwork
to ceramics to jewelry making. There was considerably more
individualized artistic expression in Korea, than China.

In Japan, the object of creating a piece of jewelry was to juxtapose
and contrast materials within a piece, so as to heighten emotional
tension and excitement in the viewer as they interact with the
piece. While Japan imposes many cultural restrictions on the use
of jewelry, there is a wide individualized artistic expression of
design within these boundaries.


Korea was settled by people who came down from Siberia.
Goal in crafts: to bring out the natural beauty of the material(s)
Belief in harmony between man and nature
A craft piece should be an expression of nature as if nature guided
the artist's hands
Developed complex inlay and metalsmithing techniques

Contemporary Korean Jewelry Artist: Kiwon Wang
"My work is based on the theme `East meets West', which is the
meeting and the interplay among materials and forms, methods,
techniques and literature. In every step of my jewelry creation, I
combine the Eastern traditional boundaries and the Western modern
boundaries, reaching the realm of where objects adorn the body using
contrast, tension, absence and presence."


Goal in crafts: juxtaposition and contrast of materials to create
emotional response
Functional and ornamental aesthetics integrated within design of
Pieces should reflect expressions of Japanese cultural values,
- minimalism
- parsimony
- intimacy
- individualism

What kinds of emotional responses would you get from each of these
- jade
- glass
- quartz crystal or amethyst
- raku
- bamboo
- leather
- silver
- gold
- pearl
- cinnabar

What kinds of strategies and limitations arrive from trying to
combine any two or more materials above to create a pleasing and
successful emotional tension in a piece of jewelry?

Warren: It's not easy mixing materials without negating the power of
one material. Difficult to mix gemstones and glass.

Jade: Your eye can focus on the surface and well as be drawn into
the stone, finding multiple places to focus.
Glass: Your eye typically focuses on the surface.
Difficult to view glass and jade, if your eye can't decide how it
wants to focus on the piece, thus which material it wants the brain
to analyze first or best.

Mixing materials by controlling:
- colors
- tones
- how your eye focuses on each material
- textures
- positioning

Valerie Hector, pp. 38-39
Contemporary artist in her book: Sharon Donovan
"Treasure House Bracelet"

We discussed the Treasure House Bracelet as a contemporized version
influenced by an antique japanese lantern. Andrea raised the point
that she felt a contemporized piece should have more reference to
the original. Warren agreed, but felt this point was probably
incorrect. "Contemporized means what contemporized is."
But "having some reference" still felt important, even if it might
not be a legitimate way of critiquing contemporized pieces.

Lantern vs. Bracelet
Vertical lines of beads vs. both vertical and horizontal lines
Antique bronze patina vs. shiny silver
large monolithic panels vs. panels of varying sizes, shapes and
dull matte, transparent beads vs. bright beads with AB finish and
less transparent
strong feeling of parsimony vs. seems that artist used more elements
than necessary to make the point

Ojime beads: Slide fasteners
Had to be sturdy, round, finished all the way around, no sharp edges

Japanese didn't really wear necklaces or other jewelry until the
past 100 years. They wore headdresses, hair ornaments, pendants
and tassles.

Around 700 AD, Japanese began passing laws restricting the wearing
of beads.
- strings of beads allowed to tie down hats
- strings of beads NOT allowed to be worn around the neck
- beads allowed to adorn material
- beads allowed to drop down from pendant
- beads allowed to be attached to tassles
- men's top-knots were allowed to be tied down with a large
- beads allowed to decorate furniture
- beads allowed to decorate sword and knife handles
- beads allowed on crowns
- beads allowed on clothing

Japanese take a very architectural approach to design. One such
design element is to emphasize the interpenetration of space.
Warren discussed an example where you might have one narrow tube
slipping thru a bead with a large hole, where both beads appear
independent of each other.

Mentioned the text:
Contemporary Japanese Jewellery, by Simon Fraser and Toyojiro Hida.

Image of very elaborate beaded Japanese headdress in Beads, an
Exploration of Bead Traditions Around the World (by Janet Coles and
Robert Budwig). p.114.

Looked at Japanese beaded tassle, as well as many ojime beads in the
text The History of Beads from 30,000 BC to the Present (by lois
sherr dubin)

Some contemporary artists whose pieces reflect Far East
(In The New Beadwork by Kathlyn Moss and Alice Scherer)
p. 44 Bracelet for Anna Akhmatova by Valerie Hector
p. 45 Potala brooch similar to a beaded tassle
p. 59 Brooch
p. 66 Blue and white coments necklace by howard newcomb (shows
contemporarization of the blue and white ceramics discussed in the
last session)

Next Session:
Indochina: Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam


(looking at region that includes India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet,
Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh)

Even though Buddhism began in India, the predominant religion today
is Hinduism.
Hinduism: not one God, per se, but a sense of the infinite, with
only pieces of infinity made present to the individual at any one
time, and with which that individual deals.

Artworks characterized by:
Expansive and expressive use of colors
Sensuousness and eroticism
Religious icons adorned with jewelry

Traditional works often are narratives. The depiction of forms
tend towards idealized and stylized images, rather than realistic or
abstract images.

Wore lots of jewelry (and lots of elaborate jewelry) from 2600 BC to
the present.

Jewellery was worn by both men and women, and was also used in the
ornamentation of arms and armour, furniture and vessels. Gems
dominate Mughal jewellery. India was a major source and trading
centre for precious stones."

In early India, people fashioned jewelry out of natural materials
found in abundance all over the country-seeds, feathers, leaves,
berries, fruits, flowers, animal bones, claws and teeth. Even today
such jewelry is used by the different tribal societies. In India the
ornaments are made practically for every part of the body. Such a
variety of ornaments bears the testimony to the excellent skills of
the jewelers in India. The range of jewelry varied from religious
one to purely aesthetic one. It is interesting to note that jewelry
was crafted not just for humans but also for the gods, ceremonial
elephants and horses.

Jewelry in India fulfils many functions and wearing it has several
implications. At the most obvious level, it is a form of adornment
satisfying Man's innate desire to beautify himself. However, jewelry
also serves as an identity marker, as security, and as symbol of
social contracts. For Hindus, jewelry is associated with most
religious ceremonies, especially the samaskaras (stages of life)
such as the namkarna (naming ceremony) or the vivaha (marriage). To
signify marital status, Hindu women must wear the mangalsutra or the
thali, which consist of gold pendants strung in a certain
combination with other beads. Traditionally, a goldsmith pierces a
child's ear with a gold pin twelve days after it is born.

In the Hindu, Jain and Sikh community where women do not inherit
landed property, jewelry was a major component of the streedhana
(gifts given to a woman at the time of her marriage). jewelry,
because of its easy convertibility into cash, was thus regarded as
security and investment.
The setting of precious gems and stones in rings, pendants,
necklaces and bracelets gained prominence due to the belief that
these stones are associated with certain powers. In Bengal, it is
common to find iron, silver and gold wires twisted together to form
a bracelet, a combination that according to popular belief gives the
wearer health and strength.
Different regions of India boast of jewellery making styles unique
to them -in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh fine filigree work in silver,
in Jaipur the art of enamelling or meenakari, temple jewellery from
Nagercoil and kundan or the setting of semi-precious or precious
stones in gold from Delhi. A wide variety of silver beads are found
all over India, especially in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and
Himachal Pradesh.

Jewelry was even used to adorn furniture.

The Hindu code of Manu (The Law Giver) specifies certain jewelry is
to be worn on designated occasions, making adornment a necessity for
even the poorest believers. The parents of a bride are obliged to
give gifts of jewelry to the husband's family.

The different "gods" in Hinduism are seen to worship particular
stones. Example: Vishnu worships sapphires.

India is greatly known as a bead-making center.

Most contemporary India jewelry are copies of old styles. There
are surprisingly few jewelry artists working in more contemporary

Seems like one goal is to put on as much stuff as possible, and see
which pieces "pop".

Many good images of India and Central Asian jewelry and beadwork in
The History of Beads by Lois Sherr Dubin.

Valerie Hector
P. 40-41
Comparison of Kathi beadwork tapestry to contemporary piece by
Rachel Weiss

The group liked the example here of Weiss' piece. It picks up on
very traditional stylizations, but adds more geometric forms,
broader range of colors and stronger ranges of colors.

One question: Is it "contemporized" enough?

Other sources:


This region's jewelry and crafts have been culturally influenced by
both China and India.

People wore jewelry primarily for various celebrations and
festivals. Jewelry was also worn for adornment, protective
amulets, political rank, social rank, religious objects

In jewelry design: importance of pattern and color
Iconography: use of images or colors to signify
social/political/religious meanings

Significant role of individual beads…
Rather than assemblages of beads

"Indian Reds" -- from India
carnelians, garnets, agates

Used a wide variety of beads – materials, colors, shapes – were
fashionable and treasured.

Very detailed metal work.

Indochina was a major source of raw materials for jewelry made in
- silver, gold, gemstones

Indochina was a major source of professional jewelers/metalsmiths
for jewelry sent to China

Contemporary Vietnamese jewelry artist: Yen Duong

Typicaly Thai-style jewelry and metal work:

General Discussion:
How do you take a lot of disparate parts, and turn them into a
single and appealing piece of jewelry?

For example: 15 of the members of the bead study group made beaded
beads for each of the other members. The styles, colors, patterns,
and general sense of each bead varied. On first look, if all these
beads were combined in a single necklace, the necklace would look

However, it is possible, thru "organization" of the parts, to create
an appealing whole, no matter what the parts look like. To the
viewer, you want to get them to focus on the "organization/order" of
things, rather than on the individual parts. Organization and
order have an inherent beauty all their own.

One technique for doing this is to draw an grid (graph) of equally
positioned and sized cells. For example, 11 1/2" boxes up and
down. Locate objects anywhere on the grid, and draw lines
connecting the pieces.

In our example of beaded beads, you could position strongly related
beads along a ring, and space out the other beads to use as equi-
distant drops along the ring. Or you can take the strongest and
most interrelated beads and make them an inner ring, and take the
others and make them an outer ring for a resulting 2-strand (or 3-
strand) necklace. ...As long as, if you laid the necklace on the
grid, it would be logically organized according to the grid layout.

In Yen Duong's work, her millennium collection is a good example of
pieces organized on a grid, then interconnected to form a piece of

Jan 2006


Indonesian art forms can include designs traced back to early
animistic beliefs, ancestor worship, Hindu or Buddhist influenced
motifs brought by Indian traders, Chinese or Islamic symbols and
beliefs. Foreign influence on Indonesian art forms was brought about
by centuries of exposure to other cultures through trade. Immigrants
from China, India, the Arab world and later Europe traveled to the
archipelago in search of the unique spices grown in Indonesia. These
traders settled and brought with them rich artistic traditions which
influenced the development of local art.
One of the richest art forms in Indonesia reflects the Indonesian
woman's desire to ornament her traditional dress, which wouldn't be
complete without various items of traditional jewelry. Ornamentation
used with traditional dress is rich in symbolism and design. From
modern designs in 22 karat gold, to intricate filigree silver
jewelry from Yogyakarta, using precious and semi-precious stones, or
modern plastic, wood or ceramic ... there are many designs,
materials and price ranges to choose from. Many expats indulge their
love of a particular type of jewelry ... buying opals or silver
jewelry until they've built up quite impressive collections.

A major exhibition of 300 examples of Oceanic jewelry titled
Adorned: Traditional Jewellery and Body Decoration from Australia
and the Pacific can be seen at the Macleay Museum in Sydney,
Australia, through January 2001.

A World of Necklaces : Africa, Asia, Oceania, America (Hardcover)
by Anne Leurquin (book of interest)

Valerie Hector, pp. 46-51 – Indonesia
Traditional Kandaure compared with pendant by Biba Schutz

Valerie Hector, pp. 52-55 – Malaysia
Beaded Tassles on wedding bed panel compared with Green Necklace by
Valerie Hector, and the tassled earrings/necklace on p. 54 by
Valerie Hector

Jan 06, p. 2

Valerie Hector, pp. 56-61 – Borneo
Baby Carrier Panel compared with Celebrity Spirit Bag by Virginia
Blakelock and Hair Ornaments by Carol Perrenoud.

Valerie Hector, pp. 62-67 – New Guinea
Aprol from Ambai Island compared with Shawl by Mary Winters-Meyer

Contemporizing Issues:
- Narrative depictions
- Human Forms
- Talismans
- Central role of natural materials like shells, bone, teeth,


I wanted to call your attention to this web-site detailing information
about Design, and very relevant to some of the things we've been
talking about in the Advanced Study Group.


Discussion Notes, February 2006

Egypt, Rome, Greece, Turkey, Persia, Mesopotamia

Egypt: Design Considerations
- preferred opaque beads
- preferred to cluster beads of one color to create blocks of
color within the piece
- preferred multi-strand pieces (5-strands was preference,
as in the "wesekh" collar that everyone wore)
- wide use of separator and spacer bars within a multi-strand
piece as both decorative and functional element
- Talismanic and metaphysical symbolism of shapes and colors
- Use of repetitious patterns

A type of ceramic of quartz sand body and colored glaze.
One of earliest "synthetic" materials, often used to imitate
Development of faience satisfied the desires of the general populace
to wear beads that emulated the precious stones of the wealthy.

- Strong sense of individual design.
While people may wear similar styles of jewelry pieces, there is a
side range in the selection, placement, and interlinking of beads
and findings within these pieces. Much individuality. Very
different from pieces from ancient China and far east.

- Stong focus on composition of piece as a whole -- not just an
assemblage of individual beads.
Everyone had their collar piece. Ideally this would be 5
strands/rows. The patterns and layout on each row would vary
widely. Ideally, the designer would use separator bars and spacer
pieces to integrate and interlink each strand.

- In a lot of traditional beadwork, there is a wide use of a
Narrative Style. Images of people, things and events are displayed
on the piece in a story-telling way. Artwork used to function
similar to newspapers and web-portals today -- they kept people
informed of important events; they helped people interpret religious
and cultural values and events; etc. It's very difficult to
contemporarize the narrative style. Going hand-in-hand with this
is that it is very difficult to contemporize the portrayal of the
human figure.

In the Valerie Hector book:
We looked at and discussed the following projects:

1) p.70-75, Princess bracelets (ancient piece)
Sithathornyunet bracelet i (contemporary piece)

In some ways the traditional piece was more appealing. We felt
that in the contemporary piece, there should have been a design
element that served the same function as the end bar/clasp bar in
the traditional piece. The contemporary piece had a more African
rather than Egyptian feel to it. The black/yellow/red/blue colors
were more traditional than contemporary. The stacking of the
various beaded beads in the contemporary piece felt more like
traditional basketry.

2) p. 76-83, Hassock of King Tutankhamun (traditional piece)
Til All Are Free, Onone Are Free necklace of Joyce
Scott (contemporary) piece

It's difficult to contemporarize a traditional narrative piece.
The ancient piece tells a story, and that story might be relevant
for hundreds of years. The contemporary piece also tells a story,
but its currency/relevancy might seem dated to its audience. In
the contemporary piece, the forms seem a bit more modern, and the
symolism also seems to reference contemporary social and cultural

We discussed the issues of contemporarizing the human form. Joyce
Scott's "bound earrings" give another example of issues associated
with translating the narrative and the human form.

Feb, 2006


A jaded public, fed for decades on Hollywood images of hedonistic
Rome, might be surprised to discover how austere and regimented
Roman life really was. Bread and circuses aside, Rome was a society
of codes and standards.
Roman citizens may have loved their jewelry, but Roman law frowned
upon it. The earliest code of Roman law, The Law of the Twelve
Tables, curtailed the amount of gold that could be buried with the
dead. The more restrictive ruling of the Lex Oppia, in the third
century B.C., fixed at one-half ounce the amount of gold a Roman
woman was allowed to wear.
This, not doubt, crimped the style of many a wealthy matron.
Historical evidence leads us to believe that these imposed limits
must have tempted them to over-compensate with other forms of
jewelry. Pliny, a historian noted for his sharp social observation,
cites examples of Roman women of rank wearing two or three pearls in
their ears, which allowed the baubles to rattle as they moved.
Lollia Paulina, third wife of the notorious Caligula, was so bold as
to flaunt extravagant jewelry even on the dullest of occasions. One
wonders if her bad taste might have been a contributing factor to
her lucky divorce from her mad husband.
Gold was especially prized. Since it did not corrode or deteriorate,
and was both permanent and incorruptible, it was the one precious
metal that most reflected Roman ideals. Under the Republic, gold
rings were a distinction reserved only for a particular class of
persons, or dispensed for special occasions. In the late 3rd century
gold rings were bestowed, often as a military honor, on senators and
Knights equo publico. Toward the end of the Republic the reins
loosened, and the privilege was extended to civilians.
The one exception, especially for children, was the gold circular
amulet known as a Bulla -- or Etruscum aurum -- that was worn
protectively as an amulet. The Bulla was primarily a token, and
played a pivotal part in the rites of passage from childhood to
adulthood. It was far too symbolic a talisman in Roman custom to
fall under the same narrow aegis of the law, as did purely
decorative jewelry.
It is important to remember that Roman jewelry, as with all jewelry
throughout the ages, served as a badge of rank, as a symbol of
status, as a protective amulet often reflecting religious beliefs
and, most vividly, as a symbol of visible wealth. Sad evidence of
this Roman passion for jewelry can be implied by the scattered
remnants of it that were found beside the remains of those unlucky
residents of Pompeii who were unable to save either themselves or
their wealth from the wrath of Vesuvius.

We reviewed several images of ancient Greek, Roman, German and
Turkish jewelry, and some images of contemporary Greek jewelry.

Like the Japanese, Rome passed many laws restricting the wearing of
jewelry, and how it was worn. Japan was able to strictly enforce
their laws. In Rome, however, there was so much interaction with
other cultures around the Mediterrean, that it was difficult for
Rome to enforce the limits.

For example, Romans by law were only allowed to wear 1 ring at a
time. But many Romans wore rings on all their fingers.

Greek and Egyptian (and early Turkish) jewelry show a lot of
individualist design styles and control. Roman, German and later
Turkish pieces are much more culturally bound, with little artistic

Some 7-8,000 year old Egyptian pieces seem very contemporary today.

Contemporary Greek jewelry relies on ancient styles and themes, but
does not see as constricted as do contemporary India pieces.

AFRICA: Yoruba (from Nigeria)

Connie Welch led the discussions today.

This Nigerian group is very different and diverse in their arts.Read
the chapter in our Valerie Hecter book about the Yoruba. I have a
lot of books with information and work that I will have there. Best
of all, they are SEEDBEAD People. Please go and explore.


Yoruba Beadwork

African art, trade beads, masks, carvings, artifacts, textiles, and

eBay: Yoruba BEADED hanging 4 FEET TWINS African beadwork (item
7738339942 end

The Jembetat Gallery - The Gallery - All Beadwork

Art and Oracle: A Scholarly Resource of African and Rituals of
Divination | Ex

We looked at the Valerie Hector book on pages 84-85
Traditional vs. Contemporary comparison of beaded diviner bags
Contemporary artist: NanC Meinhardt

Discussion points:
Yoruba are makers of glass beads and accomplished bronze artists
Only culture in Africa where women don't bead; men are the beaders
Primarily bead embroidery
The royal class are the only group permitted to wear beads

Especially known for beaded hats (crowns), many featuring birds on
top. Birds represent "women".

Traditional Yoruba beadwork seems very modern and contemporary. Why
might that be?
- extensive use of color
- very individualized artistic pieces
- very controlled use of blocks of color
- very 3-dimensional feel to the bead work
- styled depiction of faces

The traditional piece actually looked more contemporary than the
contemporary piece my NanC Meinhardt. The contemporary piece
didn't capitalize or reference in anyway the powerful use and
placement of color and dimensionality in the traditional piece.
This was a disappointment.


This is the second Bead Studies for African Beadwork. I have
rearranged how we will look at the Beadwork and added another group
of people than Valerie used in her book.
We will look at these groups and then in April Will have one
Wednesday with the Zulu and one with the Ndebele.
The peoples we are going to discuss on Wednesday are Maasaii -
Dinka - Yhosa - Kuba

Masaai necklace
The Glory of African Beadwork
Maasai Culture
Maasai Bride
eBay: AFRICAN MASAI BEADWORK BRACELET (item 8902588282 end time Feb-


Dinka hat (1927.84.83) from the Southern Sudan Project - Media - Beads of Life: Eastern and Southern
African Adorn

Xhosa African Beadwork - African Blue Art Gallery men

Africa Direct - Kuba beadwork on raffia---headband-OLD

Titleholder Hat (Laket Mishiing) [Democratic Republic of Congo;

Beaded Splendor

Have fun. See you all on Wednesday.

Discussion led by Connie Welch

Maasai, Dinka, Xhosa, Kuba

Nomadic peoples
beadwork strung on wire
done in units
great use of colro: vibrant, sings

Valerie Hector book, p. 86-88
Contemporary piece: Jayne Cowl Neckpiece by Flora Bock
How does it lay right?
Might be better if floater beads were mixed vivid colors to relate
better to traditional designs
doesn't frame the "face"
no layering of beadwork
no sculptural qualities
weak on "Circularity" and circular "movement"
contemporary piece ignores a lot of the design principles used in
the traditional piece

The green necklace on p. 53 in Valerie's book seems more of a
contemporary example of Maasai beadwork

Valerie Hector book, p. 90-93
very structured and architectural
beaded corsets that fit around the body
Contemporary pieces by David Chatt
- reflects the sculptural forms and beadwork well

Group: David has captured the essence of Dinka work
- color
- sculptural qualities

interlocking pieces
intricate bead work

Contemporary piece: Hector's red ribbon necklace
Group not satisfied with this piece. Doesn't reflect design
elements of Xhosa work:
- tight beadwork
- overlapping beadwork
- not lacey

not covered by Valerie Hector
beautiful woven and embroidered raphia clothing.

DISCUSSION NOTES, April 2006, Zulu and Ndbele
Bead Study Group

Zulu: Discussions
(many links at bottom of this email)

We discussed the Diane Fitzgerald workshop we had a few years ago.

Then we turned to Valerie Hector's book, pp 106-111, on Msinga Zulu
Beadwork. Traditional vs contemporary pieces focused on the
tubular polygon stitch. This is a single thread netting
technique. It can be done in a square pattern, a triangle pattern,
or any polyhedron shape.

The colors and the patterns have symbolic meanings in Zulu culture.

Design elements in Zulu beadwork:
No "boundaries" -- the pattern or the piece can go on and on and on.
Compared to the African cultures we studied last month, these pieces
have a lot of disconnection between the human body and the
beadwork. In the other cultures, the beadwork "framed" the body,
and was very disconnected to the form of the human body.
The Zulu pieces seem more painterly. Beadwork was just a way to
distribute colors and patterns. These could have been painted on
walls as murals, as easily as displayed on beads.

The contemporary examples were variations on creating polygon tubes,
both in the distribution of beads and colors, as well as on the
technique itself.

Ndbele Discussions:
Discussed the images in Valerie Hector's book on p. 100-101. The
contemporary artist was JoAnn Baumann. Pieces from her included
tubular bracelets done in ndbele netting, and earrings using the
ndbele stitch.

There was some disagreement about the success and appeal of the
bracelet as a "contemporizing" piece; everyone disliked the earrings
as examples of contemporizing ndbele beadwork.

The traditional beadwork we looked at were "bead rolls" that were
worn around the neck, ankles, arms and head, as well as aprons and

The traditional bead roll was very monochromatic, or had limited
number of colors. If more than one color, each color seemed very
deliberately placed. The stitches were very tight and tense. In
the contemporary bracelet, colors were blended, not bound. The
netting gave the bracelet a lacy feeling.

On the earrings, yes, you can do a lot of fun things with Ndbele
stitches. But besides the stitch, there didn't seem to be any
references back to the traditional design elements and

Design elements:
The ndbele, like the Zulu, took a very painterly approach, but
seemed more masterful in their beadwork technique.
Deliberate placement of colors
Deliberate bounding of colors within blocks
"Design" and "Control" seem very important to the finished works

In May and June, we will be covering 16-18th century Europe --
Germany, England, France and Austria.

Zulu links from Connie

This Wed. is the third session in our study of African Beadwork. We
will look and discuss Zulu Beadwork. Those of us who took Diane
Fitzgerald's workshop might want to share our notes from Diane on
Zulu beadwork. Here are some sites you can explore.

The Story of Zulu Beads

RhoDesigns: Ethnographic Artifacts: Zulu Baskets, Beadwork & Artifa

Africa Smiles:Zulu Beadwork

Ilala weavers - Handcrafted zulu beadwork, baskets - South Africa

The Story of Zulu Beads

Worldesigns Incorporated: Traditional Necklaces

Antique African Beadwork, Zulu, Necklaces, Isigege - R & R Traders

eBay Store - Worldesigns: Zulu Beadwork: Bronze Black Cream African
Zulu Beade

eBay Store - Worldesigns: Telephone Wire Basket, African Basket,
Zulu Beadwork

Zulu BeadWork Home Page

Jewels To Go Catalog

African Jewelry, Necklaces, Chokers, Bracelets, Beaded, An

Beaded Belts [South Africa; Zulu peoples] (1999.47.102,1984.51) |
Object Page tique - R & R Traders,1984.51.htm

Ndbele Links from Connie

This will conclude the African portion of our Studies, and I can
turn this over to someone else. We will discuss the Endebele
beadwork this time which is almost overwhelming. Here is a list of
pictures and sites for you to explore.

South African Museum - The Art of Ndebele Beadwork

Ndebele Beadwork

RhoDesigns: Ethnographic Artifacts: Ndebele Beadwork

Mopani Crafts - Ndebele Beadwork


Africa Bazaar African Art and CuriosNdebele beadwork set, Ndebele
Art, nd0001

Ndebele Beadwork Items

Ndebele people, Traditional African tribe, Ndebele crafts

Then you can go and bid on Ebay
eBay: African Ndebele Large Hand Painted Ostrich Egg (item
7758382716 end time

eBay: Ndebele beaded collar necklace, OLD, Africa (item 8925298044
end time Ap

eBay: South African Art: Ndebele Dolls 'Mother +Daughter' (item
9509256012 end

eBay: Ndebele beaded apron, ca. 1960 (item 7759875434 end

eBay: A great Ndebele beaded fertility doll fromeBay: NDEBELE /
South Africa / marriage skirt (item 6599286784 end time Apr-21
South Africa (item 7367693273 time Apr-23-06

eBay: NDEBELE / South Africa / marriage skirt (item 6599286784 end
time Apr-21

Discussion Notes: May-Jun, 16-19th c. Europe

Andrea Jones led most of the discussions on European jewelry and

Some of the major points:
1. beads occupied a minor place in jewelry at this time
2. most work with beads was in bead embroidery. Beads allowed
a)the artist to create pieces with great detail
b)the artist to begin to work in 3-dimensions, first by layering beads
to build up layers of surface area, and later by escaping the confines
of flat planes to extend the beadwork out from the piece.
3. the styles and preferences across European countries was very
4. a strong use of precious metals, particular with stone settings,
inlay, or glass enameling
5. the mass production of glass beads in European countries eventually
influenced the more widespread use of beads in jewelry by the middle
of the 19th century. (Similar to the impact of faience on Egyptian
design and beadwork). While not originally accepted in Europe, these
mass produced beads were at the core of global trade.
6. The primary jewelry styles were of various classical revival

This period characterized by the increasing use of jewelry as
adornment -- a partner with costume -- , rather than just to symbolize
social status and rank. The elements used in jewelry were beginning
to be coordinated with body shape and placement, the fabric and design
elelements in clothing, as well as the context or purpose (whether
social, political, magical or religious).

This paralleled the developing philosophies of the day that stressed
liberty, free will, individualism, and separation of a person's
religious from secular lives. Great effort was made to link these
new philosophies to those of ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, so that
they would be seen as logical evolutions. Thus jewelry reaffirmed
these linkages through classical revival styles.

By the end of this period, the wearing of jewelry was seen as an
important aspect of dress.

Andrea reviewed this chapter in two sessions, first on 16th and 17th
c. jewelry styles, and the on 18th and 19th century styles. She
showed many images of jewelry.

16th and 17th Century Jewelry Styles
* The Renaissance Period (Elizabethan England 16th c. - Baroque Period
17th c.)

* The Period was a development of artistic beauty combined with an
interest in the intellectual achievements of the ancient world. The
jewelry was completely individualistic. There was little known of the
jewelry of the Rome and Greece at the time

* Frequent use of enameling (cloisonne and painterly)

* Strong use of Religious images and symbolism

* Gemstones were mostly rough facet cut (rose cut) or cabochon/table
cut (oval and square). The appearance of the Emerald cut

*Cameos and ornately carved gems were abundant

* Pearls were baroque and round. In the later part of the century,
tastes became more naturalistic. Pendants compsoed of a large baroque
pearl (in the shape of mermaids, swans, and birds) with enameled and
jeweled goldwork attached were popular.

* Gold was as highly prized as the gem material and almost only bezels
until mid 16th c.

*The metalwork became very imaginative and elaborate from mid 16th on

*Beads were primarily found in strands or on embroidered items,
although some gold or carved stones beads were incorporated into

*Most common pieces were brooches (16th c), pendants (17th c), chains
belts and rings

*Strands were worn in multiples combined with wide chokers (carcanets)
and chains of various lengths, some with ornate pendants

*Most necklaces that required a closure were tied with ribbon

*Brooches and pendants were used much in the same way, both were
attached in ways other than the end of a belt, in the
ahir, on a hatband

*Rings were worn on 1st and 2nd joint of the finger by both the middle
classes and the nobility. The pieces were generally a solitaire stone
surrounded by smaller stones or clusters of smaller stones. Engraved
gold bands were worn as wedding rings

*Earrings became popular in the later part of the 16th c. as
ahirstyles and head coverings exposed earlobes. They were single
rings, cabs with dangles, and pendants threaded through the ear hole
with ribbon and tied with a bow

*Billiments were jeweled trim that was sewn along the neckline of a
gown and around the top and bottom of a french hood. They often
matched the carcanets.

*Adornment was a head to toe ornaments reached a fevered
pitch in the 2nd half of the 16th c. The courts of England, France,
Italy saw an enormous rise in the demand for jewels. They indulged
in extravagant competitions trying to outdo each other in finery.
The nobility and rich middle classes followed suit, even down to their
youngest children. The men were highly decorated as well.

*The 17th c. saw improvements in stone cutting (and a greater use of
dimonds) and a movement toward more floral inspired jewelry.

* Fewer pieces were worn together, but the pieces worn were more
elaboarate and on a larger scale

* The stomacher brooch is created in Spain

*The style for men was less ornate

*Jewelry began to reflect personal tastes rather than that of the

*The appearance of the locket and bow (Sevigne) jewelry

18th and 19th Century Jewelry Designs

* Georgian Era, Victorian Period

*The period was named after England's Kings George I, Ii, and III

*The aristocratic and wealthy classes wore an abundance of jewels,
buttons, and powedered wigs.

*The percentage of wealthy was small and the contrasts were great to
the rest of the population, who couldn't afford jewels of any kind

*European drawn glass beads are produced = mass production and trade
of beads. These were used primarily for embroidery

*Germany and Italy were the major producers

*As beads got smalelr, needles needed to catch up, so more examples of
couched beadwork exists for the beginning of this period. The problem
seems corrected by the later part of the 18th c.

*Beaded knitting becomes popular for small accessories

*Few pieces of find jewelry exist= pieces were more valued for their
elements and were dismantled and melted down. The pieces and parts
were re-made into more fashionable jewelry.

*Paste was often used in Georgian jewlery ... often set with the same
care as a fine gem.

*Gems were distinctly mounted in settings with closed backs, many
times with foil behind the stone to enhance it. The backs of the
mounting were highly decorated. Necklaces were closed using ribbon

*Jewelry commmonly found in this period ... pocket watches, chains &
fobs; jewelry shoe buckles and buttons; sets (parures) of matching
necklace, ring, bracelets, earrings, and tiara.

*France was the design leader in jewelry at the time, and their
designs were copied worldwide...luckily...few French pieces survived
the Revolution, mostly English copies remain.

*Diamond cutting techniques were improving and diamonds were used more

*Some clever designs were created to come apart and be used in a
variety of ways

*The 19th c. comes at the time of the end of the French Revolution and
a total change in fashion trends

*Ancient Greece and its motifs became popular. The emergence of
beaded/jeweled bands in the hair, on the arms or legs, even the toes
were popular. The dress of the time was more diaphanous and revealing.

*The custom of wearing a thin red ribbon around the neck to mimic a
guillotine victim became very common place.

*Cameos were all the craze, being popularized by Josephine Bonepart
who wore a head-dress of them for her coronation.

Valerie Hector's Book
pp. 112-129
In terms of providing contemporary examples, this section of her book
was perhaps the most satisfying. The contemporary pieces
felt "contemporary", yet used many design references to the
traditional pieces used as "foils" in the book. The two examples on
p.115 by Karen Paust, were especially excellent.

"Contemporizing" included a broader use of color, a more strategic use
of color to create dimensionality and to depict natural and animistic
forms, and bringing the beadwork a distance out from the base-plane.

Another very satisfying example of "contemporizing" were the pieces by
mary Kanda on p.121. Here she is revisiting the mosaic style.

We also liked the work of Jacqueline Lillie on p. 123.


Discussion Note, July 2006
Led by Warren and Ellen

We only touched on the wealth of information about Native American
Bead Work this month.

Over 300 different Indian tribes in North America. Usually grouped
by where they lived:
- woodland (southeastern and northeaster)
- great lakes
- intermountain
- southwest
- california
- northwest coast
- subartic

Grouping by geography closely parallels similarities among stitchery
techniques and imagery and iconography.

Great use of wqide variety of organic bead materials.

Can trace Indian beadwork and trade in beads back 8,000 years.

Introduction of European glass beads in the late 15th c. (and later
steel needles and clothmaking machines) radicallly altered the
beading landscape, by introducing new possibilities of color,
texture, detail, and light reflectivity.

At first Indians preferred blue colors, because blue beads were
difficult for them to make using their materials and dyes. For
Europeans, blue was very inexpensive to make, so the bead trade was
very profitable. Over time, Indians demanded more and more colors,
including reds and yellows, which were more expensive to make, and
thus less profitable to the Europeans for trade.

Beadweaving supplanted quillwork. Beadweaving could be done faster,
and achieve the same kinds of texture, color and pattern.

Glass beads also freed up time used to make beads.

Major bead weavers as well as bead sew-ers and bead stringers.

Beads served both secular and sacred functions.

Indians adapted many European and Oriental designs that they saw on
the fabrics and rugs brought by European settlers.

Valerie Hector book, pp. 134+
Traditional: achomawi/atsugewi beadwork in California -- loom work
(quail bag)
Contemporay: Don Pierce (quail bag, p.136)

Again, there was some disappoinment in the contemporary example.
It doesn't seem to pick up on many design elements integral to
Native American work. We all thought the traditional piece was
actually a better example that would work for "contemporary".

We had a long discussion about whether we should consider Valerie's
book, a "good" book or a "bad" book.

The sense of "bad" came from a great deal of disappointment in the
contemporary examples from virtually all the artists represented.
These contemporary artists either missed the point of "traditional
design" and "culture", or weren't motivated to find out. Their
pieces are appealing in their own right, but for the most part,
don't really represent "contemporizing of traditional designs".
Most of their step-by-step projects in the book seem to ignore these
same issues, as well. They don't answer the question:

What could a contemporary artist create, using the same core
traditional design principles, to give the resulting piece a sense
of contemporary, rather than of traditional?

To answer this question, the artist would have had to have analyzed
the use of color, the preference for color layout, pattern and
boundaries, the history/technique/and reason for the stitch, the
stitch tension; dimensionality; material preferences; socio-cultural-
psychological purposes; and the like. We saw this process most
closely in the contemporary examples done by Valerie herself. We
thought David Chatt's pieces were right on, as were those of Karen

The sense of "good" came from the herculean task of laying out a
bead book, that (1) focuses so much on "design", not just "craft"
or "art", (2) surveys traditional DESIGN across so many, many
cultures, and (3) forces the reader to think about how to
successfully, ...or unsuccessfully ... , try to contemporarize
traditional design work.

This is a book that makes you think, and makes you try to understand
beading from a design perspective. That's very important.

Some links to Native American beadwork on-line:

Also, if you are in Washington, DC, you should visit the new Native
American Museum that is part of the Smithsonian on the mall. They
have many, many examples of traditional native american beadwork,
from the Artic down to the tip of Chile and Argentina. They also
have contemporary native american art galleries. In their
giftshops, they also sell both traditional and contemporary native
american art, including beadwork.

Another great stop is the Native American Cultural Center in
Albuquerque, New Mexico.



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