A tenth century Arab king once said that the Vikings would “go to any length to get hold of coloured beads”. Let’s look at some incredible bead work from the Viking Era to see how their taste in wearable glass beads is not far off from our own.
About Lori Steel
Lori Steel is a glass artist living and working in Victoria, BC. When she is not at her torch, she is travelling the world sharing her jewelry with art lovers everywhere.
Entries by Lori Steel
Last week I wrote about Palaeolithic beads, how they were made, and what they were used for. This week I am completing this topic with a look at the largest site for finding beads from this time period, which is Poverty Point in the lower Mississippi Valley.
Glass beads, like the ones that I make at Dragonfly Organics, represent a relatively new process of bead making (especially when compared to ancient beads like the ones above). In their time they were considered attractive and precious objects, just like our contemporary jewelry, but they were made from softer materials. Let’s have a look at how they used to do it.
Understanding of the process of glass bead making and bead working will give you insight and respect into the cultural influences and the global spread of bead production. Traditionally, the most common techniques in bead making are winding and drawing. Learn all about it right here.
Glass beads tell a story relating to diverse cultures and societies. More than the expression of a desire for ornamentation, beads have historically served a functional purpose as well. Read Part 1 about why glass beads have such cultural significance, then check back next week to learn about how they are made.
Waist beads have a long history in Africa and are worn for various reasons and purposes. Typically worn under the clothes as a private adornment, they can represent womanhood, sexuality, femininity, fertility, healing, spirituality and more.
I would like to introduce you to my process, while you watch this video of me working the summer market at Bastion Square, in Victoria BC! Special thanks to Wladyslaw Labuda and Art Market Art & Craft Sale for their fantastic work.
Long before the “fidget spinner” was created as a way to alleviate anxiety, the Greeks used worry beads for relaxation, as an amulet and by those trying to break an addiction. Let’s explore the uses for beads from cultures around the world.
In African culture, beads are revered as highly symbolic, and the materials used to make beads have varied from natural materials such as eggshell, clay, twigs, stones, ivory and bone to glass beads that were introduced later by traders from Europe, India and the Middle East. The origin of beads and beadwork in Africa can be traced back at least 12,000 years, and continue to play an integral role in everyday life.
Over the next few weeks I will be doing a series on the history of bead making and the significance of beads in a variety of cultures from all over the world. This week we explore the long history of bead making. Where it came from, and how much it has (and hasn’t) changed in the last 500 years.