Beading from Las Cruces to Cape Town

It’s a long way from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Philadelphia where I live, and an even longer trip from Philadelphia to Cape Town, South Africa. I like to bead on long plane rides, so I started a bracelet on the Las Cruces trip, making a base then starting to embellish it with beads of many colors, shapes and sizes. I finished the bracelet on the trip to Cape Town. Then I submitted it to the Bead-A-Day Beading Calendar for 2009 and it was accepted! You’ll have to wait until the calendar comes out to get the instructions for making the “Las Cruces to Cape Town Bracelet.” You’ll also find many other beautiful beading projects in the calendar-one for every day of the year.

Here is a slide show of some of the things I saw in Las Cruces and Cape Town.

Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Happy New Year! I was trolling the web today for examples of Memphis design when I found Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.

His first declaration is “Allow Events to Change You.  You have to be willing to grow.  Growth is different from something that happens to you.  You produce it.  You live it.  The prerequisites for growth: The openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.”

Intrigued?  I was. And it only gets more interesting. For the rest, click Here. I am interested in knowing what people think,  if they would add anything, and what their favorite declaration is.  I am partial to “Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).  I have a lot of ugly children!

Zulu Beadwork

When I traveled to South Africa recently, I was fascinated to learn it has a myriad of ethnic groups and eleven official languages. The Zulu are the largest ethnic group in South Africa and they produce some of my favorite bead work. I picked up the items pictured above trolling markets and funky little shops.

To learn more about the lore and language of Zulu beadwork, press Here. To learn more about Zulu beadwork in general, press Here.

One of my favorite beadwork authors, Diane Fitzgerald, has a forthcoming book from Interweave Press entitled Zulu Inspired Beadwork.

To learn more about the rich history and culture of the Zulu, press Here.

Sand Sculptors of the Copacabana

     There’s a lot of coffee in Brazil, or so the song goes.  There are also a lot of poor people.  According to some estimates, Brazil has the largest number of people living in poverty in Latin America.  

     Artists don’t let the lack of traditional materials stop them from creating.  And sometimes, the need to feed one’s family provides more motivation to make art than than waiting for one’s Muse.  These forces converge on the beaches of Rio De Janiero where artists have found a way to make art and money from the sand and the ocean.   

     As you stroll along the beaches,  you pass by realistic, intricate,  larger-than-life sand sculptures.  Looking is free, but if you want to take a picture,   you stuff a few Reals in a can chained to a post in front of the sculpture.  The artist spends the day with the sculpture, to maintain the fragile sand and water creation and to keep an eye on the  can of money. 

     In the pictures above, you can see the artist stretched out on a blanket behind the sculpture.  He raised his hand in thanks when we stuffed some money into his can. We, in turn, thanked him making our walk on such a beautiful beach even more special.

To see another incredible Brazilian sand sculpture, click Here
For more information on sand sculpture click on Sand Castle Central

Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets

   Gold, diamonds,  coal and all kinds of metal come from mines in South Africa.   South Africa also has a rich tradition of craft work including beading (more on that later) and basket weaving.   Zulu miners took discarded pieces of brightly-colored phone wire and applied traditional principles of Zulu basket weaving to come up with basket designs that are complex and colorful.  The basket pictured above, which I bought on a trip to South Africa,  is just one example of this gorgeous art form.

When materials speak to you  and you listen,  anything is possible.

For more information on Zulu baskets, press Here.

Philadelphia Murals


Philadelphia is a city of row houses.  That’s one of our claims to fame.   We used to be an industrial city and row houses provided cheap shelter for the people who worked at places like the Baldwin Locomotive Works and the Stetson Hat Company.  When a row house was torn down,  however, a party wall was exposed that was pretty ugly.  We also battle a graffiti problem.   

The Philadelphia Mural Arts program  began as a way to beautify the City and to combat graffiti.  We now have beautiful murals in all parts of the  City.  They are a vibrant reflection of life and character  of each neighborhood.

The pictures you see here are of two of my favorite murals.  There are lots more.  If you come to Philadelphia,  you should ride around and take a look at them.  For more information on the mural arts program, go to