I’ve used a beautiful indigo shweshwe for the necklace and a rich paprika shweshwe for the pendant and the result is something earthy and warm. The tiny tandleton buttons are made out of raw silk and found sari silk and add a soft reflective quality that contrasts very subtly with the matt cotton.
The piece is framed by a halo of beautifully made Zimbabwean paper beads. They are slightly smaller than usual and very delicately made. I mention this because you do get very varying qualities, the worst ones being clumsily coated in ghastly primary colours. These ones need closer examination to really be appreciated.
Queen of Ethiopia is a great accessory with a myriad outfits; dark, light, plain or patterned.
Mr Sillah, the traveling bead merchant
The focal point is a tiny handmade Coptic cross from Ethiopia. I bought this from Mr Sillah, a bead merchant from The Gambia who visits Cape Town twice a year with an Aladdin’s Cave of authentic, handmade African beads, both modern and vintage.
A giant of a man, Mr Sillah is gentle and SO knowledgeable about beads; knowledge that he readily imparts. A visit to his “pop-up” shop is magical and requires much time as one paces the floor (the beads are all laid on the cement floor) bending down, picking up, examining and hours later emerging with a heavy bag of glass, bone, wood, metal and paper as well as very collectable African trade beads.