Thursday, August 29, 2019

The British Museum in London England

I'm so happy to be able to share these treasures with you.  Our last stop in England was the world-famous British Museum.  My tastes have always run to the ancient, so I headed for some of the most ancient pieces in the collection. 

Created about 2500 BC, these pieces of jewelry were found in a royal Sumerian tomb.  Sumer was the earliest known civilization in southern Mesopotamia, located between the Tigris and Euphrates.  One of the best-known city states in Sumer was Ur.  Most of the Sumerian artifacts in the British Museum come from Ur.

This stunning headress is a reconstruction, but the jewelry is original.  This suggests the arrangement of the jewelry worn by the royal Sumerian women found in the grave called The Great Death Pit.  Below is the signage with information about this burial site. 

Click the image to enlarge it for easier reading.

These are some of the pieces worn by the queen's attendants, similar in style to hers but less elaborate, and varying according to status.  Both men and women wore jewelry on their heads and upper bodies.  I believe that these were also found in The Great Death Pit.

This is traditionally called The Ram in a Thicket, although it is probably actually a goat.  A pair of these were found in The Great Death Pit.  It is made of cold, copper, lapis lazuli, shell, and red limestone.  There is a gold cylinder on the back of the goat's neck, so it is believed that it was the support for something, maybe a small table.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London England
The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge England

Copyright 2019 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London England

The other day, I showed you some photos that I was able to take in Cambridge England (link at the bottom of this post), and today I want to turn to the first of two world-class museums we visited in London!  In no particular order, here we go!

Micromosaic jewelry pieces are made from the very smallest glass pieces (tesserae), some of which contain more than 5000 tesserae per square inch!  The necklace, bracelet, and earring set were most likely made in Italy around 1850.

This piece is called Devil's Trumpet, and was made from recycled and electroplated cutlery in 2016 by artist Ann Carrington.  It was inspired by Dutch still life paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Life Began in Water, about 1950 by artist Sah Oved.  The necklace contains gold, silver, agates, jasper, and aquamarines.

Inspired by a Picasso drawing, Portrait of a Woman, artist Wendy Ramshaw made this necklace in 1988 from patinated silver and colorcore.

This is a collection of Berlin Ironwork pieces in a Gothic style, but produced between 1815 and 1830.  The cast iron had little intrinsic value, but once made into these fashionable products, the Prussion factories gained international success.

An amber bead necklace with a silver filigree clasp, made near Hamburg, Germany about 1765.

The British Museum in London England
The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge England

Copyright 2019 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge England

Mike and I just returned from a trip to Cambridge and London, England!  Mike was working, and when I wasn't busy being a groupie, I was out exploring.  I loved loved loved visiting two of the museums in Cambridge, and was sorry that I didn't have time for more.  The Fitzwilliam Museum is not to be missed, but since it doesn't have much to do with beads per se, I thought I'd concentrate on the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology instead.  You must go if you every have the chance.  It is a "small" museum, but is three floors high, with lovely displays and wonderful guides/guards available.

In no particular order, here are some of the things I liked best.  The quality of my shots is poor...the lighting as designed to preserve the pieces, of course, and flash photography (as everyone should know by now) is not appreciated.

The so-called square headed brooches of the Anglo Saxons.  They could be worn either direction, so the 19th century name for them is inaccurate.  They are gilded bronze and their ages varied.  The AS period in England was from 410 to 1066 AD.

This woman's belt from Alaska is embroidered with caribou incisors.  They were highly prized heirloom pieces, and were used in healing rituals.

Fijian necklace of carved sperm whale tooth ivory.  Strung on woven coconut fiber and collected in Fiji in 1875.  Actual date is unknown.

A bead embroidered hat from Borneo.  Undated, but isn't it cool??

Another hat with bead embroidery and also wired bead decoration.  This was from Peking, China, made in either the late 19th or early 20th century, pre-Manchu period.  It was ordered by the King for either the Queen or for the highest ranking concubine, as these were the only women allowed to wear a phoenix on their heads (only the King could wear a dragon).

This neck ornament is embroidered with small shiny red seeds.  It came from Queensland, Australia, and was collected in 1914.

This pearl shell pendant was collected from Western Australia.  The designs are different on each side, and are engraved.  The date is unknown.

Other collections that I have been privileged to see over the years:
The British Museum in London England
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London England
Tlingit arts in Alaska
Bishop Museum in Hawai'i
Glassworks and beads in Murano, Italy
Tzanchaj, Guatemal

Copyright 2019 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Book review: Two-Hole Bead Stitching

If you like working with shaped beads, then you are probably already a fan of Virginia Jensen's work and her books!  Stitching with Two-Hole Shaped Beads and Contemporary Cube Bead Designs are Kalmbach Media titles you might already be familiar with, and here is her latest: Two-Hole Bead StitchingJust like the others, this book has the fabulous photos and illustrations that Kalmbach is known for.  And it is full of the fabulous and fun designs that Virginia is known for!

Each chapter starts with a fairly simple piece and progresses through more intricate and challenging pieces.  I particularly liked some of the variations that could be made using the basic S-braid pattern.  The easy basic version is included in this book, along with lots of fabulous alternatives, using other shapes and mixtures. 

I have to be honest that I've not been very interested in shaped beads.  I love my regular seed beads, and for the most part, adding a few drops or daggers around the edges of my bead embroidery is just fine for me.  But recently I've been seeing more shaped beads being used even in embroidery.  Often then are woven together first and then stitched down to the foundation.  What makes this particularly appealing is that the neck straps of a large necklace or cuff can be completed very quickly.  Virginia has many many designs that would be beautiful on their own, but that I could also see being incorporated into embroidered pieces. 

I may just have to start buying a few of these beauties and fooling around with them! 

Other books I've reviewed that focus on shaped beads:
Learn to Use Two-Hole Beads
Stitching with Two-Hole Shaped Beads
Beautiful Designs with Super Duos and Twin Beads
Great Designs for Shaped Beads
Contemporary Cube Bead Designs

This post contains affiliate links: Amazon

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Bead embroidered pendant redo!

Available!  Leave me a comment

Sometimes you just have to let a project sit for awhile, and sometimes you need to get advice from your friends!  I had pretty much decided to just keep the pendant that I showed you last time because I was unhappy with the wonky back stitched lines around the onyx donuts.  But thanks to an online friend, Shayne M's suggestion, I stitched peyote "bezels" around each, and it hid the uneven line enough to make me happy!  Thank you, Shayne :-)

Here's what it used to look like:

Copyright 2019 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Fuchsia + onyx bead embroidered pendant

I had another beautiful set of polymer clay and resin focals by Mary Anne Williams Knapp, and although I like the asymmetrical design of this piece very much, I'm a bit disappointed with one aspect of it.  Can you see the problem?  The onyx donuts did not sit flush, and so they shifted around after the piece was stitched together.  Until that time, the surrounding rows of back stitch were nice circles, but stitching everything together caused them to shift and warp slightly.  What I should have done was to either build a clay base for them or sink them into a thicker felt foundation.  By the time the shifting occurred, it was too late.

Oh well, I'll just have to keep this one!  I don't see pieces that I'm not satisfied with.

You can find information on the open-hole triangular bail at the link.  Further instruction on making bead embroidered pieces can be found in Every Bead Has a Story, where the first chapter is free to download.

Copyright 2019 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. 

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Book review: Bead Stitching Handbook

You know those super-clear instructions that you get from Bead & Button magazine (or from any Kalmbach publication, for that matter)?  Well, here is the handbook that you've been waiting for, that puts all the instructions for all of the stitches in one spot: Bead Stitching Handbook by the editors of B&B!  Here's a list of the stitch instructions that are included:
Peyote, netting, ladder, brick, square, herringbone, right-angle weave, crossweave, fringe, bead embroidery, spirals & helixes, chenille, chevron, St Petersburg chain, loomwork, and bead crochet.  Wow!  All the fundamentals in one handy book.

The book also includes the variations of each stitch, so for example, you'll get instructions for flat, circular, and tubular, plus how to increase and decrease.  AND it also covers special tasks the stitch is really useful for, like creating bezels with peyote stitch, stitching two-drop, diagonal, Dutch and Cellini spirals, etc.  There are tips included for using shaped beads with certain stitches too.  

Bead Stitching Handbook has 20 projects included, but it would be worth it even without them!

This post contains affiliate links: Amazon

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