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.

African Beads

To me, the words Africa and beads go together like Romulus and Remus, Baskin and Robbins or Damon and Runyon. In fact, I started working in polymer clay because I wanted to replicate millefiore African trading beads.

So last year, when I was lucky enough to travel in South Africa
I bought beads and bead work in dinky little stores, outdoor markets and anywhere else I could.

I found the beads you see above at a wonderful store in Capetown called Bead Merchants of Africa.  The beads are are brass Abijas, blue glass, amber/copal, and millefiore trading beads. Most of these beads are not native to South Africa, but Bead Merchants carries everything!

I have designed a necklace with them and just need to put it together. Alas, it sits unfinished in my workshop! When it is finished, you’ll be the first to see it.

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.