Beadwork is the art or craft of attaching beads to one another by stringing them with a sewing needle or beading needle and thread or thin wire, or sewing them to cloth. Beads come in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes. Beads are used to create jewelry or other articles of personal adornment; they are also used in wall hangings and sculpture and many other artworks.
Modern beadwork is often used as a creative hobby to create jewelry, handbags, coasters, plus dozens of other crafts, and even copies of paintings. Beads are available in many different designs, sizes, colors, shapes, and materials, allowing much variation among bead artisans and projects. Simple projects can be created in less than an hour by novice beaders, while complex beadwork may take weeks of meticulous work with specialized tools and equipment. Many free patterns and tutorials can be found in Internet.
Faience is a mixture of powdered clays and lime, soda and silica sand. This is mixed with water to make a paste and molded around a small stick or bit of straw. It is then ready to be fired into a bead. As the bead heats up, the soda, sand and lime melt into glass that incorporates and covers the clay. The result is a hard bead covered in bluish glass.
This process was probably discovered first in Mesopotamia and then imported to ancient Egypt. However, it was the Egyptians who made it their own art form. Since before the 1st dynasty of Narmer (3100 B.C.) to the last dynasty of the Ptolemaic Kingdom (33 B.C.) and to the present day, faience beads have been made in the same way.
These beads predate glass beads and were probably a forerunner of glass making. If a beadmaker was a little short of clay and had a little extra lime and the fire is hotter than usual, the mixture will become glass. In fact some early tubular faience beads are clayish at one end and pure glass at the other end. Apparently the beads weren't fired evenly.
The uneven beads were noticed early on, this led to experimentation, slowly at first. It took a long time for new ideas to be accepted in a conservative, agricultural society. One of the first variations to take hold was to color the faience beads by adding metallic salts. By the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty (1850 B.C.), faience making and glass making had become two separate crafts.
Faience beads were so common because they were cheaper and less labor-intensive to make than stone beads. Aside from personal use and daily wear they were used to create beaded netting to cover mummies. Most of the archaeological specimens come from burials.
As early as the Old Kingdom (circa 2670–2195 B.C.), Egyptian artisans fashioned images of gods, kings, and mortals wearing broad collars made of molded tubular and teardrop beads. These beaded collars may have been derived from floral prototypes. In antiquity the collar was called a wesekh, literally "the broad one".
In the Americas, the Cherokee used bead work to tell stories. They told them by the patterns in the beads. They used dried berries, gray Indian corn, teeth, bones, claws, or sometimes sea shells when they traded with coastal tribes.
Many 3D beading patterns are done in right angle weave, but sometimes both techniques are combined in the same piece. Both stitches are done using either fishing line or nylon thread. Fishing line lends itself better to right angle weave because it is stiffer than nylon thread, so it holds the beads in a tighter arrangement and does not easily break when tugged upon.
Nylon thread is more suited to peyote stitch because it is softer and more pliable than fishing line, which permits the beads of the stitch to sit straight without undue tension bending the arrangement out of place. Two needle right angle weave is done using both ends of the fishing line, in which beads are strung in repeated circular arrangements, and the fishing line is pulled tight after each bead circle is made. Single needed right angle weave was popularized in the 90's by David Chatt and has become the norm.
Peyote stitch is stitched using only one end of the nylon thread. The other end of the string is left dangling at the beginning of the piece, while the first end of the thread progresses through the stitch. In peyote stitch, beads are woven into the piece in a very similar fashion to knitting or cross stitching.
In fact, it is not uncommon for cross stitch patterns to be beaded in peyote stitch technique. Peyote stitch patterns are very easy to depict diagrammatically because they are typically stitched flat.
Right angle weave lends itself better to 3D beading, but peyote stitch offers the advantage of allowing the beads to be more tightly knit, which is sometimes necessary to portray an object properly in three dimensions.
Beadwork in Europe has a history dating back millennia to a time when shells and animal bones were used as beads in necklaces.
Glass beads were being made in Murano by the end of the 14th century. French beaded flowers were being made as early as the 16th century, and lampwork glass was invented in the 18th century. Seed beads began to be used for embroidery, crochet, and numerous off-loom techniques.
Beadwork is a Native American art form which evolved to mostly use glass beads imported from Europe and recently Asia. Glass beads have been in use for almost five centuries in the Americas. Today a wide range of beading styles flourish.
Alongside the widespread popularity of glass beads, bead artists continue incorporating natural items such as dyed porcupine quills, shell such as wampum, and dendrite, and even sea urchin spines in a similar manner as beads.
Wampum shell beads are ceremonially and politically important to a range of Eastern tribes, and were used to depict several important treaties between the Native peoples and the colonists, as in the case of the Two Row Wampum Treaty.
In the Great Lakes, Ursuline nuns introduced floral patterns to tribes who quickly applied them to beadwork. Great Lakes tribes are known for their bandolier bags that might take an entire year to complete. During the 20th century the Plateau tribes, such as the Nez Perce, perfected contour-style beadwork in which the lines of beads are stitched to emphasize the pictorial imagery. Plains tribes are master beaders, and today dance regalia for men and women feature a variety of beadwork styles. While Plains and Plateau tribes are renowned for their beaded horse trappings, Subarctic tribes such as the Dene create lavish beaded floral dog blankets. Eastern tribes have a completely different beadwork aesthetic: Innu, Mi'kmaq, Penobscot, and Haudenosaunee tribes are known for symmetrical scroll motifs in white beads, called the "double curve." Iroquois are also known for "embossed" beading in which strings pulled taut force beads to pop up from the surface, creating a bas-relief. Tammy Rahr (Cayuga) is a contemporary practitioner of this style. Zuni artists have developed a tradition of three-dimensional beaded sculptures.
Huichol Indians of Jalisco and Nayarit, Mexico have a completely unique approach to beadwork. They adhere beads one by one to a surface such as wood or a gourd with a mixture of resin and beeswax.
Most Native beadwork is created for tribal use, but beadworkers also create conceptual work for the art world. Richard Aitson (Kiowa-Apache), enjoying both an Indian and non-Indian audience, is known for his fully beaded cradleboards. Another Kiowa beadworker, Teri Greeves, has won top honors for her beadwork which consciously integrates both traditional and contemporary motifs such as beaded dancers on Converse high-tops. Greeves also beads on buckskin and explores such issues as warfare or Native American voting rights.
Marcus Amerman, Choctaw, one of today's most celebrated bead artists, pioneered a movement of highly realistic beaded portraits. His imagery ranges from 19th century Native leaders to pop icons including Janet Jackson and Brooke Shields.
Roger Amerman, Marcus' brother, and Martha Berry, Cherokee, have effectively revived Southeastern beadwork, a style that had been lost because of the forced removal of their tribes to Indian Territory. Their beadwork commonly features white bead outlines, an echo of the shell beads or pearls Southeastern tribes used before contact.
Jamie Okuma (Luiseño-Shoshone-Bannock) has won top awards with her beaded dolls, which can include entire families or horses and riders, all with fully beaded regalia. The antique Venetian beads she uses can be as small as size 22°, about the size of a grain of salt. Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty, Rhonda Holy Bear, and Charlene Holy Bear are also prominent beaded doll makers.
A bead is a small, decorative object that is formed in a variety of shapes and sizes of a material such as stone, bone, shell, glass, plastic, wood or pearl and with a small hole for threading or stringing. Beads range in size from under 1 millimetre (0.039 in) to over 1 centimetre (0.39 in) in diameter. A pair of beads made from Nassarius sea snail shells, approximately 100,000 years old, are thought to be the earliest known examples of jewellery. Beadwork is the art or craft of making things with beads. Beads can be woven together with specialized thread, strung onto thread or soft, flexible wire, or adhered to a surface (e.g. fabric, clay).Bead crochet
Bead crochet is a crochet technique that incorporates beads into a crochet fabric. The technique is used to produce decorative effects in women's fashion accessories. The word "crochet" is derived from the French "croche" or "croc" meaning "to hook". Published descriptions of bead crochet date from around 1824 although it was probably common before then. At one time, bead crochet was thought by some people to be appropriate only for rich people.Early examples of bead crochet include nineteenth century miser's purses. By the 1920s bead crochet technique also made necklace ropes, bracelets, and beaded bags. Bead crochet waned during the 1930s when the great depression reduced free time for decorative needlework and as inexpensive manufactured goods became more readily available. Interest in bead crochet has revived somewhat in recent years as a hobbyist pastime.Bead knitting
Beaded knitting is a type of knitting in which the stitches are decorated with ceramic or glass beads.Bead weaving
Bead weaving (or beadweaving) using seed beads can be done either on a loom or using one of a number of off-loom stitches.Brick stitch
The Brick Stitch, also known as the Cheyenne Stitch or Comanche Stitch, is a bead weaving stitch in which individual beads are stacked horizontally in the same pattern as bricks are stacked in a wall.
The technique has been used by Native Americans and in Africa, the Middle East, and South America. Guatemalan examples use beads of size 22/0 and smaller.This is an off-loom technique perfected by Native Americans. It is a relative of another off-loom technique called Peyote stitch or Gourd Stitch. A Brick Stitch pattern can be worked as a Peyote Stitch Pattern if turned through 90 degrees.
Brick Stitch is different to other stitches in bead weaving as the beads are attached to the thread in between the beads, not to the last bead added like in other stitches or to beads in the previous rows. There are many variations of Brick Stitch in bead weaving. These include, flat brick stitch, circular brick stitch or tubular brick stitch. A popular use of brick stitch is to bead around a component, be it a closed jump ring or another larger bead You can easily increase and decrease in brick stitch by skipping a thread bridge or forcing two beads into one thread bridge, making it a versatile stitch to shape bead work withGlass beadmaking
The technology for glass beadmaking is among the oldest human arts, dating back 3,000 years (Dubin, 1987). Glass beads have been dated back to at least Roman times. Perhaps the earliest glass-like beads were Egyptian faience beads, a form of clay bead with a self-forming vitreous coating. Glass beads are significant in archaeology because the presence of glass beads often indicate that there was trade and that the beadmaking technology was being spread. In addition, the composition of the glass beads could be analyzed and help archaeologists understand the sources of the beads.Huichol art
Huichol art broadly groups the most traditional and most recent innovations in the folk art and handcrafts produced by the Huichol people, who live in the states of Jalisco, Durango, Zacatecas and Nayarit in Mexico. The unifying factor of the work is the colorful decoration using symbols and designs which date back centuries. The most common and commercially successful products are "yarn paintings" and objects decorated with small commercially produced beads. Yarn paintings consist of commercial yarn pressed into boards coated with wax and resin and are derived from a ceremonial tablet called a neirika. The Huichol have a long history of beading, making the beads from clay, shells, corals, seeds and more and using them to make jewelry and to decorate bowls and other items. The "modern" beadwork usually consists of masks and wood sculptures covered in small, brightly colored commercial beads fastened with wax and resin.
While the materials have changed and the purpose of many of the items have changed from religious to commercial purposes, the designs have changed little, and many retain their religious and symbolic significance. Most outsiders experience Huichol art as tourists in areas such as Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, without knowing anything about the people who make the items, and the meanings of the designs. There are some notable Huichol artists in the yarn painting and beadwork fields, and both types of work have been commissioned for public display.Love beads
Love beads are one of the traditional accessories of hippies. They consist of one or more long strings of beads, frequently handmade, worn around the neck by both sexes. The love bead trend probably evolved from the hippie fascination with non-Western cultures, such as those of Africa, India, and Native America, which make common use of similar beads.Martha Berry (artist)
Martha Berry is a Cherokee beadwork artist, who has been highly influential in reviving traditional Cherokee and Southeastern beadwork, particularly techniques from the pre-Removal period. She has been recognized as a Cherokee National Treasure and is the recipient of the Seven Star Award and the Tradition Keeper Award. Her work is shown in museums around the United States.Millefiori
Millefiori (Italian: [milleˈfjoːri]) is a glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words "mille" (thousand) and "fiori" (flowers). Apsley Pellatt in his book Curiosities of Glass Making was the first to use the term "millefiori", which appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1849; prior to that, the beads were called mosaic beads. While the use of this technique long precedes the term "millefiori", it is now most frequently associated with Venetian glassware.Since the late 1980s, the millefiori technique has been applied to polymer clay and other materials. As the polymer clay is quite pliable and does not need to be heated and reheated to fuse it, it is a much easier medium in which to produce millefiori patterns than glass.Peranakan beaded slippers
Peranakan beaded slippers, also known as kasut manek, literally meaning beaded shoes, is a type of shoe that dates back to the early twentieth century. It refers to beaded slippers worn by a nyonya to complete her Sarong Kebaya outfit, together with chained brooches (kerosang) and a silver belt (tali pendeng). The slippers are made of Peranakan cut beads (manek potong), which are treasured as these beads are no longer available. Vintage kasut manek are intricate and finely stitched, a testimony to the fine workmanship of yesteryears. The intricacy and fine workmanship of a pair of beaded slipper is also a hallmark of highly accomplished Peranakan women, also known as nyonyas, whose skills in embroidery and beadwork are highly valued.Peranakan cut beads
Peranakan Cut Beads (the Peranakan term is Manek potong')
are faceted glass beads used by Peranakan women to make Peranakan beaded slippers (kasot manek) and other Peranakan artifacts like wedding veils, handbags, belts, tapestries, pouches, etc.
The beads used in the past were very tiny multi-faceted glass seed beads from Europe. For the beaded slippers, both smooth and faceted beads were used to form the pattern.
Nowadays, the bead size commonly in use for Peranakan beadwork are sizes 15 to 18 (the larger the size number, the smaller the bead).
Modern day faceted beads are single-faceted seed beads, usually referred to as charlotte beads or 'charlottes'. These beads are usually from the Czech Republic.Peyote stitch
The peyote stitch, also known as the gourd stitch, is an off-loom bead weaving technique. Peyote stitch may be worked with either an even or an odd number of beads per row. Both even and odd count peyote pieces can be woven as flat strips, in a flat round shape, or as a tube. Tubular peyote is used to make pouches or to decorate objects such as bottles or fan handles.
Many cultures around the world have used peyote stitch in their beadwork. Examples of peyote stitch have been found in artifacts from Ancient Egypt, and the stitch has also been used in historic and contemporary Native American beadwork. The name "peyote stitch" derives from the use of this stitch to decorate objects used in peyote ceremonies by members of the Native American Church. The name "gourd stitch" similarly derives from the use of the stitch in decorating gourd containers.Rungus people
The Momogun Rungus are an ethnic group of Borneo, residing primarily in northern Sabah in the area surrounding Kudat. A sub-group of the Kadazan-Dusun, they have a distinctive language, dress, architecture, customs, and oral literature.Sequin
A sequin is a disk-shaped bead used for decorative purposes. In earlier centuries, they were made from shiny metals. Today, sequins are most often made from plastic. They are available in a wide variety of colors and geometrical shapes. Sequins are commonly used on clothing, jewelry, bags, shoes and many other accessories.
Sequins are sometimes also referred to as spangles, paillettes, or diamantes, but technically differ. In costuming, sequins have a center hole, while spangles have the hole located at the top. Paillettes are typically very large and flat. Sequins may be stitched flat to the fabric, so they do not move, and are less likely to fall off; or they may be stitched at only one point, so they dangle and move easily, catching more light. Some sequins are made with multiple facets, to increase their reflective ability.Square stitch
Square stitch is an off-loom bead weaving stitch that mimics the appearance of beadwork created on a loom. Loom patterns and even cross stitch embroidery patterns may be used for square stitch pieces. Because each bead in a square stitch piece is connected by thread to each of the four beads surrounding it, this stitch is very strong.Trade beads
Trade beads (sometimes called aggry and slave beads) were otherwise decorative glass beads used between the 16th and 20th century as a token money to exchange for goods, services and slaves (hence the name). Trade beads were used to purchase African resources by early Europeans. This included African slave trade. The beads were integrated in Native American jewelry using various beadwork techniques. Aggry beads are a particular type of decorated glass bead from Ghana.Vochol
The Vochol is a Volkswagen (VW) Beetle that has been decorated with traditional Huichol (Wirrárika) beadwork from the center-west of Mexico. The name created by José Jaime Volochinsky is a combination of “vocho”, a popular term for VW Beetles in Mexico, and “Huichol”, the common name of the Wirrárika indigenous group. The project was sponsored by agencies associated with the Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City, the states of Jalisco and Nayarit and other public and private organizations. The Volkswagen was covered in 2,277,000 beads applied by eight artisans from two Huichol families in an exclusive design based on Huichol culture.Xhosa people
The Xhosa people (; Xhosa pronunciation: [kǁʰɔ́ːsa] (listen)) are a Bantu ethnic group from Southern Africa mainly found in the Eastern and Western Cape, South Africa, and in the last two centuries throughout the southern and central-southern parts of the country. There is a small but significant Xhosa-speaking (Mfengu) community in Zimbabwe, and their language, isiXhosa, is recognised as a national language.The Xhosa people are divided into several tribes with related yet distinct heritages. The main tribes are the amaGcaleka, amaRharhabe, imiDange, imiDushane, and amaNdlambe. In addition, there are other tribes found near or among the Xhosa people such as abaThembu, amaBhaca, abakoBhosha and amaQwathi that are distinct and separate tribes which have adopted the Xhosa language and the Xhosa way of life.The name "Xhosa" comes from that of a legendary leader and King called uXhosa. There is also a fringe theory that, in fact the King's name which has since been lost among the people was not Xhosa, but that "xhosa" was a name given to him by the San and which means "fierce" or "angry" in Khoisan languages. The Xhosa people refer to themselves as the amaXhosa, and to their language as isiXhosa.
Presently approximately 8 million Xhosa are distributed across the country, and the Xhosa language is South Africa's second-most-populous home language, after the Zulu language, to which Xhosa is closely related. The pre-1994 apartheid system of Bantustans denied the Xhosa South African citizenship, but enabled them to have self-governing "homelands" namely; Transkei and Ciskei, now both a part of the Eastern Cape Province where most Xhosa remain. Many Xhosa live in Cape Town (eKapa in Xhosa), East London (eMonti), and Port Elizabeth (eBhayi).
As of 2003 the majority of Xhosa speakers, approximately 5.3 million, lived in the Eastern Cape, followed by the Western Cape (approximately 1 million), Gauteng (671,045), the Free State (246,192), KwaZulu-Natal (219,826), North West (214,461), Mpumalanga (46,553), the Northern Cape (51,228), and Limpopo (14,225).
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