African Trade Beads

 

Even before I made jewelry and before  sea glass came into my life I was intrigued with old  African trade beads and have been collecting them for decades. Old beads come to us from another time and they have been on a very long journey. They show signs of change and wear from years of being handled, traded and lost in the earth. These old beads are soulful, beautiful and have a story to tell. I acquire old beads from some of the worlds leading bead researchers. All of the African trade beads I work with were made in Europe from the late 1800s to the 1950s. 

Over the millennia seashells, stones and glass beads etc. have served as forms of currency throughout the world. Glass beads were produced in Europe for trade in Africa where they were once a major form of currency. 

The importation of slaves into the United States was outlawed in 1808 yet continued to some extent up until the late 1850s. In the United States the 13th amendment to abolish slavery was passed by the Senate in 1864 and by the House in 1865. By this time many other countries had abolished slavery as well. 

As an artist my mind journeys across history while working with African Trade beads and I think they should be handled and worn with reverence and respect. These beads have a story to tell and serve as a departure point for discussions about history as well as modern day life.


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