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Coptic Cross Pendants

These fabulous pendants feature Coptic crosses, handmade in Ethiopia and a selection of handmade Ghanaian glass beads.  Their adjustable leather thongs allow them to be adjusted and worn stylishly long if desired.

The coptic crosses I use are made in Ethiopia where they are individually hand cast. They are normally made of a copper alloy and then silver plated.   A typical Ethiopian cross usually incorporates detailed and elaborate latticework which represents everlatsting life.   Each cross is unique depending on the artists design sensibility.  Although most crosses are made from metal, some are also made from wood.   The metal ones are cast using the lost wax process.

There is a very well made short video on the making of Coptic Crosses here and the most incredible documentary on Ethiopian Christianity here.  

It is the rich stories behind the beads, crosses and textiles that I use that I love, and this is what makes each African Baroque neck adornment so special.

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Ocean Queen

textile necklace

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.

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Thuli

Thuli – in form – resembles one of those gorgeous ornate oval frames favoured by Victorians for portraits.

It’s a powerful piece incorporating linen, isiShweshwe and found textiles.  I’ve used many found and vintage beads here as well as tiny ostrich eggshell beads handmade by the Himba tribe from Namibia and some Ethiopian “silver” beads.

 

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Sweet Naartjie

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.

 

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Klimt in Cape Town

On a recent bead search I was delighted to purchase some beautiful paper beads from a Zimbabwean trader.  Now paper beads can be find all around Cape Town but often they’re heavily painted. I look for those that have only been varnished so that the original paper is visible.  It is here that you can see the real artistry of the beadmaker.

The little “silver’ bead is a Tuareg bicone.  These are made by melting old aluminum pots and pans.  I have read that they also use old bullet casings in the manufacture of metal beads.   The ostrich eggshell beads have been used for thousands of years particularly by the Khoi people of Southern Africa.  These ones probably came from Namibia.

I also used some found beads on this necklace as well as some contemporary beads such as glass pearls.

The necklace strands are African wax fabric which is actually probably made in China but is still a very popular textile in Africa.

 

South African isiShweshwe was used for the textile buttons/tandletons.

Klimt in Africa fits over a medium sized head.  It retains it’s circular shape when worn.

Like all of my pieces it is very light and easy to wear.

If you’d like to purchase this piece of have any questions about it, please feel free to contact me by email.

 

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Tropical Paradise

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.

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