An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Competitions ahoy - Finalist certificate arrived today from Fire Mountain Gems

My blogs today are all about competitions - probably competitions were on my mind because I recieved my Fire Mountain Gems 2009 Beading Contest Finalist certificate for my entry Cleopatra's Vial (pictured left). The certificate was beautifully presented and it came with a US10.00 Gift Certificate. It would have been wonderful to win but I was delighted to be a finalist given the wonderful company I was in. Off now to work on my entry for the Victorian Beadwork Society competition ...

Bead&Button Show:The Biggest Consumer Bead Show in the World - Bead Dreams 2010 - Due 5th April 2010

Bead&Button Show:The Biggest Consumer Bead Show in the World - Bead Dreams 2010 Rules
Entries for the 2010 Bead Dreams competition are being accepted
online only. The online application will be posted at a later date.

Of special interest to beadweavers ...
"4. Beaded Objects or Accessories: This category will include a non-jewelry item or accessory, including, but not limited to, purses, shoes, sculptures, or wall hangings.

5. Seed Bead Jewelry: This category will include beaded beads, a piece, or an ensemble of jewelry, that is predominantly seed beads or bugle beads, including, but not limited to, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings."

Beadaholic NZ Creative Jewellery Making & Beading Designer Awards 2009

Beadaholic NZ Creative Jewellery Making & Beading Designer Awards 2009

For beaders in New Zealand - Competition entries for 2009 close August 28th with Judging in September.

All Dolled Up:Beaded Art Doll Competition - Due 31st August 2009

Fourth Bi-Annual 2009
Theme: Earthen Mother
Deadline: August 31st, 2009

Information from Hannah Rosner

Beading competitions - a competition about competitions

I always seem to stumble across beading competitions when it's too late and forgot those that I hear about in time - a good example is the fourth Miyuki contest, sponsored by Caravan Beads that I just discovered only to find that the deadline was June 1, 2009. So, I decided to help myself (and hopefully others) by using a feature I have just discovered on Blogger that allows me to post about a competition instantly I come across it - that way I'll just need to check my blog to know what's coming up when. If I can then somehow tie that into my calendar all will fine... well, at least I'll know what's on when. That, could be a start.

How do you stay in touch with competitions? I'm offering a surprise beading stash for the best post that's made during the first two week's of September. Winner announced on this blog on 15th September, 2009.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beading tales and trivia - The US president and the largest bead mosaic in the world

Well, the world's largest bead mosaic record has been broken by children in the USA. They have beaded a birthday present for the US president - President Obama - for his 48th birthday this August. Apparently 1,000 fourth-grade school children used 372,000 hollow plastic beads to create a beaded mosaic of the president. The beaded mosaic is reportedly 9 feet tall and 11.5 feet wide. It was presented to the President and put on public display outside the Whitehouse on the 3rd August 2009. You can see its making on You Tube ( and look at closeups on Flickr - just follow the photopearls link below.
In addition to the children and school communities in 50 US states involved in making the mosaic, a European company PhotoPearls® was also involved. Looking at the company's website the sell a product which includes a digital software program to convert pictures into bead charts, sticky paper to print bead charts on and beads that adhere to the paper. In the close-up of Obama's eye below the beads look a little like large plastic delica beads.
Here is how the company described their product:

The standard edition of PhotoPearls is our basic concept that contains everything you need to get started with creating your own bead art. The enclosed software allows you to pearlify patterns of your own digital images.

The standard set contains:
  • A box with 15,000 beads in 30 assorted colours.
  • Four peg boards that can be assembled into a larger bead board.
  • Two glue sheets that are adhesive on both sides.
  • A white/brown piece of cardboard on which to glue the first bead picture.
  • A CD disc for installation on your computer.
For those of us who are beadweavers, it appears that there was a not a needle or thread in site when the mosaic was beaded. However, it's clearly brought Photopearls well into site!

If you look at the comments on various sites where the mosaic was reported there is clearly controversy about the idea of a large mosaic of the US president being on public display. What do you think?
Sources I used - also most have places where you can post a comment.

More sites with articles about the mosiac - most allow you to post comments.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Triangles and 'Triangles galore' treasury on Etsy

I am fascinated by geometric shapes at present and have been making Ziangles galore - I have just listed one on my Etsy site and luckily got a treasury where I could showcase it and others who have brought triangles to their art. If you have a chance do pop by and have a look.

You'll see equilateral triangles (all sides the same shape) and isosceles triangles (two sides are equal in length). Enjoy the geometry.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beading tips competition - silk choker give-away for the best tip for solving the mystery of the enormous ivory beads

Well, I'm back home from Thailand but my desire to solve the mystery of the enormous ivory beads remains (Bead adventures in Thailand post number 4 ). I've got some ideas about where to next (Bead adventures in Thailand post number 6) but would like some more ideas about my next steps - what would you suggest?

I'll reward the most creative suggestion with a give-away of a lovely blue silk choker with silver findings I bought in Thailand. Winner announced Monday 24th August - 10.00 am Australian Eastern Time.

Bead adventures in Thailand (6) - the story of the enormous ivory beads unfolds

I made a final trip to the ivory beads before leaving Thailand yesterday. I asked to hold them this time and looked much more closely at how the necklace was strung. After my visit I tried to sketch the necklace to help with my memory of it given photographs are not possible. Looking past its seven enormous ivory beads I could see this time that they are separated not only by lovely chinese patterned silver bead caps but also by a small ivory disk. The stunning tennis ball sized central bead has a fascinating salmon pink stripe running through it and is flanked each side by two almost white chinese jade beads (about 8 mm) on silver handmade dangles. Just near the necklace hook are two lovely silver flower beads inlaid with lapis and coral and two more gourd shaped ivory beads known as (fodouda or buddha head beads). These beads are found in contempoary mala or prayer beads (see image - the apricot bead is the fadouda beads). The enormous ivory beads are strung on a woven silver silk rope that is strong enough to carry their two kilogram weight and finished with a silver hook and eye. Can you imagine wearing a necklace of that weight?

In my second visit a little more of its story unfolded. The necklace was apparently made in the late 19th century somewhere between China and Burma but it's likely that the enormous ivory beads are much older. I was told it may have been a warrior's necklace as wearing a necklace of such weight was a symbol of the wearer's strength. Alternatively, I was told it could have been worn in the temple by monks as part of their meditation rituals. So, still no definitive story of the necklace but that second visit has given me hints that I'll use for Google searching. I'll also email the shop owner to see if he can tell me more than his shop assistant could. Apparently,
it came to the shop via the shop owner's private collection. He is apparently an ex-architect who established the shop over 19 years ago and he occasionally places pieces from his private collection in the shop for sale. This is one such piece. So, how did the owner come to own the beads and what does he know of their story? I have also emailed the Bead Museum to see if they might know something - any suggestions about how to track its story further.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bead aventures in Thailand (5) - what does a girl do with 95 chokers?

Another of Bangkok’s attraction for the beaders is the number and range of its wholesale outlets for beads and cabochons, for silver and gold chains and findings and for a range of packaging and display. I saw the most wonderful array of earring stands you can imagine. Unfortunately, most of them are plastic of one form or another and I am trying to move towards more earth-friendly choices this year around my beading activities. (Many also sell made-up items such as earrings, brooches and necklaces.) I visited just a few jewellery supply shops, but looked at a lot more and I think that the ones that I visited were pretty representative of what Bangkok has to offer. Amongst all that I saw I was drawn again to beads from Tibet. I came away with yet more Tibetan shell beads inlaid with old turquoise and coral chips and in different shapes and sizes. The ones pictured here are nearly 3 inches long. Was I drawn to these large beads because of my encounter with the enormous ivory beads? I am not sure what attracts me to the Tibetan shell beads, but if you like them as well and are planning to visit Bangkok check your currency against the Thai Baht and bring a spare suitcase! Also bring extra Baht and an extra suitcase if you like chokers. Somehow, I managed to buy 40 different coloured silk chokers, 25 black leather chokers and 30 lovely black rubber chokers for the 4 peyote beaded pendants I have made to date on holiday. I blame the need to buy in bulk to get a good discount but not sure how well that works as an argument to justify 95 chokers for 4 pendants! Watch out for a burst of pendant making in the coming months. And, .... I’m still hoping to catch another look at those ivory beads before heading home later today.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bead adventures in Thailand (4) - the enormous ivory beads

Ah! Back in Bangkok! I’ve been visiting this city for thirty years and I’m still finding new places to go and things to do. In part, this is because Bangkok is changing constantly – old roads and houses are replaced by new expressways, hotels and shopping malls. In all this change, one constant is the Chao Praya river, which winds its way through Bangkok just as the Thames runs through London, the Seine through Paris and the Mississippi through New Orleans. Another – related - constant is the Grand Palace (see picture), which stands resplendent on the bank of the Chao Pray and is almost, in my view, a Wonder of the World.

Bangkok is a prime venue for beaders for many reasons. First, the Grand Palace and its Buddhist temples are sources of endless inspiration. There are so many temples that you’re never more than a few blocks away from one. The colours and patterns of the ceramic and tile work are fabulous. I have taken lots of photos for future reference - here is just one of the close-ups I took of the tile work on one of the demons at the Grand Palace. It's alive with colour and pattern to inspire beaders.

Bangkok’s thousands of antique shops are also inspiring. Much of the ‘antique’ jewellery is, in fact, imported from Tibet, Nepal and Afghanistan and its patina of age is probably just dust from the dirt roads of central Asia! However, there are museum quality pieces on sale for the wealthy bead collector in many shops. In The River City Plaza shopping centre I found over half a dozen shops with extraordinary antique beads from several countries in South East Asia.

It was in one of the River City Plaza shops (Beyond the Masks) I met the enormous ivory beads. There were dozens of strings of antique beads of all shapes, sizes and materials. I became particularly mesmerised by a necklace of enormous antique ivory beads, returning to look at it several times. The central bead was nearly as a large as a tennis ball with the smallest beads close to the size of golf balls. It was a graduated, single strand necklace and each bead was nestled between two lovely old silver bead caps. I was fascinated by the size of the beads and the beauty of their ivory patina, but saddened at the thought that an elephant probably perished to create the ivory beads. The elephant would not have been killed to specifically make the beads as ivory beads were made generally from off-cuts and pieces discarded from making larger objects, but it would have non-the-less probably perished for its ivory. Once China’s elephants became extinct around 500 AD ivory from through South East Asia and parts of Africa was traded for carving in China and Japan. Were these beads from an elephant from Borneo or Somalia? How old was it when it perished? Who first owned these beads? Why were they made? Where had they started their journey as beads just how ethically had they journeyed to Bangkok? Was the necklace sold because a family somewhere, some time ago, needed the money for survival? Had it been a dowry piece or a precious family heirloom? Was its owner paid a fair price paid for the necklace? Did they part with it willingly, or was it pillaged? What would the ethics of buying such a necklace be? On sale for $AUS 9,000 I wouldn’t have to debate the ethics of the purchase personally but I was haunted by the possibilities of the necklace’s infamous past. Unfortunately, the young shop assistant had little idea of its lineage and so I am still left to wonder. The shop forbade photographs so it is just my memory and my imagination I take away from my encounter with the enormous ivory beads. I am tempted to visit it one more time in the hope of learning more.

More on Bangkok’s attractions for me as a beader tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bead adventures in Thailand (3) - Tibetan naga shell beads

I am used to buying seed beads by the gram but not larger beads. However, at Central Asia Arts (54-56 Kamphangdin Road (at its junction with Loi Kroh)) buying loose beads by the gram is what you do. I felt a bit daunted by this at first but quickly learnt that I just needed to ask for a bead to be weighed and that there was with no expectation that I would buy it just because I had asked for it to be weighed. My interest was initially drawn to some large, white beads of different shapes and sizes. They look like ivory beads but are Tibetan naga shell beads. Each bead is handmade and inlaid with old turquoise and coral. I couldn’t resist several purchases of these beads in different shapes including the large barrelled shaped bead in the photo opposite (about 5 cm long x 4 cm wide). The beads are made from conch shells and named after the Naga people (who live in Nagaland and Burma). They have a long history of wearing conch shell beads.

The other beads I really liked were also handmade and inlaid with old Tibetan coral and turquoise beautifully framed by Tibetan brass strips. I just love the rich reds of these beads and came away with quite a stash of them.

As its name suggests, this shop imports a lot of beads and beaded jewellery from the area around Tibet and Afghanistan. (Its Bangkok branch also sells furniture, carpets and rugs.) It also sold gemstones on strings and necklaces made-up by the shop owners. Deciding what not to buy in this shop was the challenge!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bead adventures in Thailand (2): Mr. Ahmed's cabachons

I made quite a purchase today – several gemstone cabachons. I stumbled across a shop called Silver Arts, 50, Loikroh Road (the moat end) whilst on the search for some Hill Tribe silver beads and despite the shop’s name it specialises in cabochons. The cabachons are made from a wide range of gemstones in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Mr. Fahim Ahmed, the manager told me that he can make cabochons to order from any gemstone in any particular shape and/or size. This is because he buys gemstones and opals ‘in the rough’ from merchants (e.g. in Australia and Thailand), sends them to be cut and polished in his own factory in Mumbai and then sells them from his shop in Chiang Mai. I spent a delightful time rummaging through plastic baskets full of gemstone cabachons before settling on the ones that I bought. Each time I showed an interest in a cabachon more made from different types of gemstones seemed to miraculously appear from plastic bags stacked inside a filing cabinet in the corner of Mr. Ahmed's tiny shop. The cabachons are sold by weight with prices per gram varying according to the specific gemstone. I bought two fabulous Botswana agate cabs that recall art deco shapes, lovely small Rhodochrosite cabs in geometric shapes with beautiful pink and cream veins and fabulous rich coloured blue and aqua azurite cabs. My favourite find were the dendritic white opal cabachons (pictured above) (also known as Moss opal) that Mr. Ahmed pulled from his filing cabinet draw to show me. Each cabachon looks like a piece of beautiful Japanese ink art to me. I can’t wait to use one of the cabachon’s in a piece of beaded art. Unfortunately, the pictures I have been able to take here don't do them justice - they are a lovely milky cream with a beautiful sheen to them with very delicate dark green veins. The cabs are nestled on a lovely silk scarf that I bought at a silk shop just near by. In the strange way of beading, my opal cabachons are like me, Australian. Mr. Ahmed buys his rough opals from Australia. Nearly 95% of all moss opals are found in Australia - the most famous deposits are at Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs in New South Wales, and at at Coober Peddy and Andamooka in South Australia. Unfortunately, he couldn't tell me just where mine are from. However, I do know they have travelled from Australia somewhere to Mumbai, then on to Chiang Mai and now will head back to their home country again.

For those interested in beading and gemstone trivia, the name opal is meant to be derived from Sanskrit "upala," meaning "valuable stone." and the root for the Greek term "opallios," translates as "color change." Opals are said to relieve depression and to help those who wear them fine true love.

I was planning to sell a couple of my opal cabs on Etsy in a new beading supplies shop I’m working on called Dax’s Bead Boutique but I am not sure I’ll part with them! If I do sell them on Etsy I wonder where they will travel to next and who might find cheer and true love through them? Off for more beading adventures after a cooling riverboat trip this afternoon.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bead adventures in Thailand (1)

I've been working in Chiang Mai, a small city in Northern Thailand, which has a roughly rectangular ‘old town’ at its heart, surrounded by a moat. Chiang Mai is a magnet for the crafty traveller seeking handicrafts, jewellery … and beads of every description! Over the weekend, I've been exploring some of what it offers for beaders.

Much of the stock on sale in Chiang Mai is made by people in the hill tribes of Northern Thailand, such as the Hmong, the Aka and the Karen, each of which has its distinctive craft styles. Thus, while there is a wide range of silver beads on sale, you can recognise the origins of many of them from their distinctive patterns. Similarly, you can see particular styles of dyed and embroidered cloth in, for example, clothing, purses, bags that identify it as made by women in a particular tribe. The hat in the photo (left) is the hat of a young female Aka that I found for sale in the first shop I visited. Tempted though I was, it's still in the shop.

There are literally dozens (possibly hundreds?) of shops in central Chiang Mai selling beads. Some of them sell just beads, others sell beads along with other goods, including jewellery, handicrafts and clothes. Most of the shops offer goods at both retail and wholesale prices, but the amount you have to buy to get wholesale prices varies from one shop to the other. I've just been to a few shops, so far and the choice is so great buying is a little overwhelming.

If it’s silver and associated with beading, you’ll find it at Karen Silver, 130, Tha Pae 1 (opposite Le Meridien Chiang Mai).! There’s an enormous diversity of silver and nickel beads, chains and findings (all sold by the gram); some very elegant made-up silver and gemstone earrings; and strings of gemstones, also sold by the gram. I was so overwhelmed I couldn't buy a thing - back for a visit this morning!

At Kesorn Arts, Tha Pae (the canal/klong end) I did manage my first purchase.
Edging my way carefully between the closely-stacked shelves of crafts, clothes, masks and ornaments from across south-east Asia, I found a fine stock of beads and beaded jewellery. I bought some lovely old glass bicone beads that had once been an Aka girl's necklace in the shop and I am tempted to return to buy some of the tribal glass bead hanks that are jammed on the shelves just inside the door. I did spend quite a bit of time admiring the wonderful tribal jewelery on display.

The picture below shows two of the Naga tribal necklaces on display surrounded by other antique beads and necklaces. The shop has a small library of books on the anthropology, arts and crafts of the area; and just next door is the Siam Celadon shop which sells locally-made crockery in characteristic green and blue glazes and has a lovely little café at the back. So, if you are worn out from your beading adventures it's a great place to sit quietly and reflect on what you bought, didn't buy and might buy.

Off now to see what beading delights await me today. For those of you who've been to Thailand, would love to hear about your beading adventures.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Glenda's a featured artist on abeadaday's Blog today

Thanks to A Bead a Day for including me in her featured artist spot on her blog. It's very affirming to receive this type of support from within the beading community.

If you have time please do visit her lovely blog and post a comment:

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op