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.
african baroque unique handcrafted textile necklace
If you’re looking for an accessory that will really get you noticed then this handcrafted African textile necklace is the one for you.
The triple strands are covered in three different “Africa Print” cotton textile and the entire piece adorned with some really fabulous handmade African beads. The many colours in these textiles work well with a boho look but you can also easily create a striking and sophisticated evening look.
The brass mask is made in Ghana by members of the Baule people of the artistic Akan tribe. This tribe resisted French colonization longer than other West African people, and maintained their traditional objects and beliefs longer than others did. The origin of the name Baule is from the word “Baouli” which means “the child has died”. As legend has it, Queen Abla Polu broke away from the Ashanti king and led her people west where she had to sacrifice her own son in order to cross the river.
And despite it’s size it is really comfortable to wear and surprisingly light.
If you’d like to know more about this piece please contact me via my contact page
Vibrant red is a colour much favoured by the Maasai people, a semi-nomadic people of Tanzania and Kenya and the dominant colour in this piece which is made from 100% cotton isishweshwe and wax fabric. The central bead in the pendant is a found vintage ivory bead and the central tandleton is encircled with “silver” prayer beads from Ethiopia.
Please contact me for more information about this neck adornment.
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.
Traditional indigo cloth is the most beautiful fabric and was the starting point for this textile necklace. It was difficult to cut into it not knowing whether or not the textile would lend itself to jewellery making. The weave is quite loose and I was worried that it would unravel. Luckily I was able to make three perfect little tandletons which form the focal point of this adornment.
By clicking on these pictures you will be able to see enlargements and get a really good look at the details.
There are some really beautiful beads in this piece. Some subdued paper beads which I bought from a North African trader in Cape Town – a really good find – the beader appreciating the subtle colours in the paper itself rather than smothering them in crude bright paint. The spotty beads are Ghanaian glass beads which have been hand painted and then fired for a second time. The Coptic cross comes from Ethiopia and has a beautiful and very ancient history; more about this in another post. The beautiful blue and brown beads are also Ghanaian recycled glass.
This is the first time that I worked with gold leaf and I was very excited with the outcome which i further enhanced by stitching with a bronze metallic thread.
Vuyo (meaning happiness in isiXhosa) was completed some time ago. And it really did make me happy until suddenly I had a new vision for it and now it has quite a different look.
I’ve added six Ghanaian brass beads, including “spiderwebs” and “filigree triangles”.
At the bottom of the pendant is an authentic Mali wedding bead – an antique trade bead originally made in Bohemia (now Czechoslovakia) and prized by the Fulani women of Mali who to this day present them to their daughters on their wedding day, hence the name.
The necklace is the first to include hemp cord binding. This is pure hemp which I have hand dyed giving it a beautiful irregular tonal look that really compliments the irregularity of the hand made bead.
The irregularity of these pieces and with particular relevance to the beads is largely where their charm lies. On closer inspection you will notice tiny chips and even dust in the really old beads which have been handed down as treasured possessions through the generations. I do wash them but nonetheless it is often very ingrained!
One can also see the “hand” of the craftsman in the graze of a file on the brass beads or the smudge of a paintbrush on the Krobo beads. Nothing is perfect in the mechanical way of the modern world and in this lies the true charm of the piece.
This necklace is quite small with a circumference of 55cm so you’d need to be certain that it will slip over your head before purchasing.
Ndyakuthanda – I Love You – is one of the bigger contemporary textile necklaces I’ve made. Four rope strands of shweshwe and wax fabric are adorned with tandletons, brass cylindrical beads from Ethiopia, cowrie shells and some pretty Ghanaian hand painted recycled glass beads in a rather unusual orange with a hint of lavender.
At the base of the necklace is an antique millefiori trade bead which I was lucky to come across somewhat unexpectedly at a vintage bookshop in Cape Town! There are also several ostrich eggshell beads used to cover the ends of some of the textile tubes.
The geometric shapes remind me of the designs frequently used by the Ndebele people when they paint their homes.
This is such a joyful and festive piece made with some spectacular textiles in vibrant and very African colours. The outer two strands are covered in textiles bought in Ghana by someone who used to work at the Vlisco factory in the Netherlands. The design on these fabrics is particularly popular in Ghana. The inner strand is covered in some lovely pinky mauve wax fabric bought in Cape Town. The design here is more European in flavour and yet they all juxtapose to great effect.
Encircled by Ghanaian brass beads, the leaf, spiderweb and sun pattern and vaseline beads that pick out the green in the outer textile.
The focal point is a textile circle that encircles a green raw silk tandleton
On a visit to a Zimbabwean trader, I was inspired by the discovery of some little carved bone elephants. It is not always easy to establish the country of origin let alone the town or craftsman but he told me that they come from Nigeria and are carved from oxbone. The combination of the apple green textile, the creamy white elephant and the handpainted Krobo beads worked so well to create this fresh pendant necklace but there are other details that also worked well. The green glass bead above the tassel is a Vaseline bead. Originally these beads were produced in Bohemia (now Czechoslovakia) between the mid 19th and early 20th centuries. Their translucent yellow green colour was obtained by the addition of uranium salts and they are identified by placing them under ultraviolet light which makes them glow.
I have used Ethiopian “silver” bicones, green paper beads from Zimbabwe, and green recycled glass beads from Ghana to complete this piece.
Please email me if you’d like further information about this piece.
The bone beads I used in this necklace come from Nigeria and are carved from ox bone. They are lightweight but strong and in this case they have been left pleasingly matt whereas they are usually polished.
The golden faceted bead was given to me and I don’t know whether it is stone or glass but it has the most beautiful glow to it and makes a great feature. This necklace can be worn in it’s long oval shape as shown in the picture below or as a shorter more circular shape by gentle manipulation.
As always I have enjoyed using the Ghanaian brass beads
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.
Charlotte is a soft and gentle double stranded necklace made mostly from South African “Three Cats” isiShweshwe which comes from the Da Gama factory in the Eastern Cape. On closer inspection you will see a variety of beads such as the recycled glass “flowers” , some very tiny Himba ostrich eggshell beads, a soft brown Zimbabwean paper bead.
I have used some cowrie shells on the necklace as well. The cowrie is the most commonly used and longest used currency in history and was last used as such in West Africa as recently as the mid nineteenth century. These shells were also used as fertility symbols amongst many people. There is a very interesting research document here that provides information on it’s use for divination, as a symbolic message, in the preparation of medicinal herbs and for decorative purposes.
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.