The inspiration for this choker comes from the beautiful Ghanaian star beads made from recycled glass. They are much more difficult to source than the spherical ones so an exciting find. I’ve used a very fresh and pretty shweshwe (100% cotton) made by the Three Cats factory in East London, South Africa.
Shweshwe is becoming increasingly popular with international tourists visiting South Africa which is great because local textile shops are stocking a greater variety in order to meet the demand and this means that I have more to chose from too! However the price has gone up by 100% since I first started using it just over two years ago.
I’ve used hemp yarn for the binding. I can only get the hemp in it’s natural creamy shade so I hand dye it specially for each necklace to get exactly the colour I want. Such are the daily problems faced by craftspeople in Africa. The positive side is that we are forced to find our own creative solutions!
The beautiful brass beads are made by hand in Ghana using the very labour intensive lost wax method.
The choker looks fabulous worn with the fastener as a feature in the front, to the side or behind the neck and at 147 grams (slightly more than a quarter of a block of butter) it’s really light and easy to wear.
If your neck is 34/35cm in circumference or under, then Sea Star will fit you perfectly.
If you want to stand out amidst the trendy then this textile choker is the perfect choice.
Six sturdy strands of wax fabric create a sculptural statement in terms of scale and concept. I’ve been inspired by the neck adornments of Africa (idzila) and Northern Thailand where neck elongation is or was practiced. In some of these cultures, a long neck is seen as the ideal of beauty. In others it is seen as a sign of wealth, social status, and personal pride.
It’s a bold and powerful statement piece that holds it’s dramatic form but is also easy to wear as it is light despite its appearance and unlike the real idzila which are very heavy being made of metal!
Wonderful and globally recognised South African artist Esther Mhlangu still wears idzila rings and this website has fabulous images of her by Trevor Stuurman as well as a short video and beautifully presented information about the fascinating Ndebele culture.
This striking little choker fastens at the back with an understated sterling silver clasp specially made by South African jeweller Amy Sinovich. One of the problems creating quality products in South Africa is the limited supply of materials and components. In this case I could only buy cheap clasps and they ruined the piece. Amy quickly picked up on what I needed and created this perfect solution. Take a look at her Instagram page to see the delicate and beautiful work she makes.
The limited but striking palette of red and black with a touch of blue is not out of the ordinary but the delicate hand embroidery and bead work embellishments add a touch of magic that sometimes goes unnoticed until revealed by closer inspection.
I’ve used black Dupioni silk and a contrasting red African wax fabric with hints of black. The silk is a rarity in South Africa – you can no longer go into Cape Town fabric shops and buy some but have to order. This is very problematic as I can no longer browse and carefully select and am forced to order in large quantities – but this is a problem for the future. Sometimes the problems lead to exciting solutions and I’m sure I’ll find one!
An unusual bead
The seed beads I’ve used are the ones that are used by most bead artists in Africa and I believe they are made in Japan. The focal bead is somewhat unusual. I bought it a few years ago when we had access to a much greater variety of beads. It is a glass lampwork bead made in India. A real beauty, probably produced in the 1970’s.
Easy to Wear
This piece is very light and extremely easy to wear. It would look fabulous with denim and a teeshirt for very casual wear or with the ubiquitous little black dress. Or simply let your imagination run free.
Brown isiShweshwe is one of the more traditional colours of this textile and the image is created by the inimitable discharge printing method. This is a silkscreening process in which instead of normal ink, discharge inks are used, which remove the backround colour to create the pattern, rather than printing a colour on top.
The name of the piece, Girl from Egoli, references Johannesburg, city of gold. This choker features an embroidered and beaded double tandleton of lustrous, golden raw silk – hence the name – topped with bone linen and a pearl bead.
It is fastened by means of a soft brown velvet ribbon which, being adjustable, makes it extremely comfortable to wear.
Please feel free to email me for further information about this African textile choker.
I was going to call this necklace “Sweet Clementine” which has a rather more poetic feel to it, but naartjie is the South African word for this sweet and juicy winter fruit.
Two things really excite me about the piece.
The orange glass beads are very difficult to find. They are Ghanaian recycled glass beads and have that typical matt finish. It is, of course, when you hold them up to the light that all glass beads have that magical luminosity and these are no exception. They look so fresh and juicy – hence the name.
The other excitement arises from the fact that this fabric is the real Dutch Vlisco wax fabric. Their designs and colours are fantastic – it’s worth taking a look at their website.
This necklace can be worn as a choker or slightly longer as you tie it with the rather punchy orange velvet ribbon.
It looks absolutely gorgeous on!
Please contact me for more information or to purchase.
Dive into an underwater world. This isiShweshwe choker is bejeweled with glass beads. Hand stitching in metallic thread and a gorgeous turquoise velvet ribbon finishes this piece off beautifully!
isiShweshwe has a long and interesting history that began in the East and was introduced to Africa by Dutch and German people. This is the genuine South African Three Cats textile which is made from 100% cotton. The pearl beads I’ve used are vintage sixties and of a particularly good quality. There are also some tiny vintage glass crystal beads.
If you’d like to know more about this piece please feel free to email me.
This little choker is made of linen, African wax fabric and raw silk. It is richly hand embroidered with metallic thread and ties with a soft pink velvet ribbon which means you choose whether to wear it snugly or allow it to hang slightly.
Ruby is perfect for those evenings out when a little bit of glamour is required but can also look super for day wear.
For more information on this piece please contact me by email. African Baroque Textile Jewels are easily posted anywhere in the world using South African postal services registered airmail post and take within two weeks to reach most places.
Softly subdued earthy tones imbue a sense of African earth. I’ve used a gentle brown isiShweshwe as the dominant textile buat also incorporated a lovely wax fabric and some linen. The splash of turquoise in the isiShweshwe tandletons is complimented in the Krobo beads as well as some of the decorative hand stitching.
The two brass Tuareg beads are new additions to my bead collection and I love the irregularities that attest to their handmade nature. Tuareg tribe are well known for their beautiful jewelry and it’s a pleasure to tap in to the mystique of this nomadic people.
Also in this picture is one of the hand painted beads made by the Krobo people of Ghana. These are hand made from recycled glass and refired after hand painting. The Krobo people have a long history of bead making and these ancient processes are still followed to day.
Please contact me if there is anything you’d like to know about this piece, to purchase it or to place an order for something similar.
Nadia is a regular customer based in New York. A bold and stylish woman, she recently commissioned this dramatic sculptural neckpiece which is made from three shweshwe bands and five huge purple “cones” made from deep purple raw silk and topped with Ghanain recycled brass beads.
It would be interesting to see this piece handled in a completely different style…. something earthy? Something to think about in the future.
I do take commissions but no two pieces will ever be identical. Please contact me for further information.