Weaver of Beads
Los Angeles – 2016
by Ann Reillet
As a hobby, jewelry making is fun and relaxing. Within the craft a wide range of techniques are used including bead weaving on a loom or hand weaving. Similar to knit and crochet, weaving provides a platform that beginners can mange with minimal investment while working up to more intricate designs.
This was my first hand woven bead project; the ‘Parisian Lights‘ bracelet designed by Jill Wiseman. The designer’s instructions and video tutorial make the process incredibly easy. If you haven’t already tried weaving beads, this is a great place to start:
You’ll find kits on Jill’s site that include all the beads necessary to make the particular item. She and other designers, like Svetlana McDaniel, have uploaded free video tutorials on YouTube.
To understand how old this craft is: shell beads and copper arm bands have been discovered in palaeolithic tombs. Ancient Egypt demonstrates how far the craft advanced and how popular it was for the elite. One of the most amazing discoveries related to ancient jewelry is the Royal Tombs of Ur, discovered in 1930 by Sir Leonard Woolley.
The city of Ur was an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia. It is located at the site of modern Tell el-Muqayyar in southern Iraq’s Dhi Qar Governate. In ancient times, the Euphrates River ran along this site, but the river has long changed course and migrated several miles away. It is for this reason, that scholars believe the city was abandoned.
Long after its abandonment, Akkadians continued to use the necropolis at Ur. During Woolley’s excavation of the Ziggurat and surrounding buildings, he discovered the burial ground. It contained 1,800 graves. The most elaborate was that of Queen Pu’abi (Akkadian: “Word of my father”).
When her remains were discovered, 4,500 years after she’d been buried, Queen Pu’abi was still wearing this elaborate headdress and collar comprised of carnelian, lapis and gold. What is interesting to note is that bicone, round and seed beads are present. The gold beads are wrapped foil over a bitumen core and the neckband is woven in a pyramid pattern.
Customizing the Craft
Beading is limited only to the imagination. Fine examples of beaded handbags from the Art Deco period exist as well as Edwardian Shawlettes and French Collars of beaded crochet work.