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Friday, December 02, 2011

Every Bead Tells A story

 This was one of the first pieces I ever made and one I couldn't bear to part with for that reason. I considered it a kind of talisman as I unfolded the wonder of these incredible objects loosely called beads. A bead is anything with hole drilled into it, by the way. In any case, this one had a chunk of very rare jasper with the same kind of coloration I first saw in the Australian rainforest where raw ocre streamed up from the earth. I actually have a photograph somewhere  of this same pattern on the forest floor.
Not long after, I discovered my first batch of amber in a little trading post-type shop in Santa Fe. I remember that shop well since it was set up in the wild west style but run by a gentleman from Afganistan who knew a lot about amber. He showed me what to look for, how to tell whether inclusions were genuine or 'included', to tell genuine amber from resin wannabes. That double-drilled slice of amber is the real thing and I've never found anything like it since. Good thing I bought multiples, all different.
Ebony and Ivory tells yet another story. The interesting tear-drop oval centerpiece attracted me last year at the BeadFest in Santa Fe because it was so unusual and  partnered so well with the silver-chased Thai bead. A vision came a-knocking. Sometimes a bead will tell me what it wants to be and I'm just left to pull it together. Real ebony from a neclace I purchased from a man in Zimbabwe features as does onyx and cracked agate plus dalmation jasper. I've always loved dalmation jasper. Though its named after the Croatian coast, I see puppy dogs straight out of the Lady & the Tramp!
But here's the thing: I have genuine ivory in there, too. Long ago in Zimbabwe, elephants were converging on regions of Africa that had food and provided some sanctuary. I visited the country at that time—Zimbabwe when  it held the promise of a continent—and learned the harrowing poaching stories from the guides who led us into the bush. The then-government confiscated poached ivory and turned it over to crafsmen to make items from the white gold which would then be funneled into the sanctuaries and anti-poaching efforts. I bought some. Will an elephant die in vain, I ask myself, or do we wear these pieces in tribute? I don't have the answer. I'm still struggling with the question.

Posted by Jane on 12/02 at 06:56 AM

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It's lovely Jane. I have a few of those oldies but goodies too, and I do think that whatever ivory you have should be worn in tribute. If anyone asks, say it is a talking point and educate them about the senseless killing of elephants. A friend gave me some exquisitely carved old ivory beads a few years ago, and I have been saving them until my skills caught up with their value. I am nearly ready to make them into a necklace now!

By Mardi on 2011 12 04

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