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.
I’ve just completed a lovely little textile necklace in muted neutral colours. It’s a breakaway from the typical bright colours of Shweshwe and African print textiles that I’ve been using and its been exciting to see how differently the beads have behaved in combination with ivory, black and soft gold of the textiles. This is also the first time I’ve included velvet in a necklace and I am very happy with the textural interest it creates.
Velvet from Bellamy & Bellamy
The velvet was a happy find at David Bellamy in Muizenberg. They have the most amazing range in very high quality British and Dutch velvets and what’s most fabulous is that they aren’t scared of colour. Their are some bewitching purples and acid greens, iridescent turquoise as well as the more traditional colours, the silvery grey I’ve used in this textile necklace being one of the latter. Of course this might not sound exciting to followers in other parts of the world, but in South Africa there is very little in the way of quality fabric of any kind.
Zulu Teething Beads
The little pale blue grey Imbifinga beads are known by many names, most commonly Job’s Tears. In South Africa they are known as Zulu teething beads, amatandjies (or amatantyisi). These tear shaped seeds come from a grass that is similar to corn and in some parts of the world is known as “The Mother of Corn”.
I was fascinated to read that the male flower actually grows through the center of the seed and so there is no need to drill a hole to make the bead – it comes ready made!
“Etosha” is truly a versatile piece as this pics show, looking equally great with denim, Indian cotton and linen. I have a sense that the possibilities are endless and I know that the artistic customer who commissioned it is going to do some exciting combinations.
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.
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
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.
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.