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.
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.
There’s an energy in this textile necklace that adds “impression” to any look you can possibly conceive. The authenticity of materials translates into something powerful despite the relative simplicity of the piece.
The centrally placed carved bone bead is happy vintage rescue. The four tear shaped beads are authenti glass trade beads from a Malian wedding necklace which are fairly hard to come by. These beads were made in Bohemia (now Czekoslavakia) and can be identified partly through the signs of “wear and tear” but also the way the bead was pressed – a technological advancement of the era.
The silver beads are Ethiopian handmade silver beads. These are all made from recycled objects such as pots, pans and bullet casings. The bullet casings, remnants from many wars, are gathered by farmers and from there go to beadmakers who melt them down and refashion them as beads.
I’ve used Vlisco 100% cotton wax fabric for this piece.
Light and easy to wear – in fact it’s easy to forget you’re wearing it! Just slip it over you’re head and you’re ready to take on the world!!
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
Crystal, turquoise sea and lazy days on the beautiful beaches of Mauritius inspire the name of this textile necklace.
The lovely big silver bicones are handmade in Ethiopia. Beautiful signs of handwork in the form of tiny dents and splashes of metal are definitive of these beads and imbue the piece with authenticity as opposed to mass produced, machine made objects.
This shimmering piece will turn every day into a romantic holiday.
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.
Three Cats Shweshwe brought out a Madiba range to honour the late Nelson Mandela. Sadly this is no longer being manufactured due, I’m told, to royalty issues. I am lucky to have some in stock and I’ve used it in this pendant necklace.
Madiba was a such a great statesman and an exceptional human. Wise, courageous and truly inspirational. I think most South Africans miss him very much.
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.
This unusual necklace is made from genuine African Indigo cloth. Every aspect of this cloth is handmade in Mali, from spinning the yarn to weaving to dying. The texture is absolutely fabulous; soft with a typical handwoven irregularity.
The beads I’ve used on it include spherical Ghanaian beads, made by hand from recycled glass which is crushed by hand to a fine powder before being placed in a mold and fired with a cassava stem used to create the hole. There are also several rather delicately decorated glass beads – also Ghanaian. The cylindrical brass beads are from Ethiopia and the focal point is a Ghanaian brass pendant. This was made using the lost wax method which means it is unique as the mold is destroyed when the molten brass is poured into the mold.
This necklace is available. Please contact me by email if you are interested in buying it or knowing more about it.
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.
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.
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.