One category of beads I enjoy working with is African Trade Beads.  I find them to be absolutely beautiful, even those that may be distressed, chipped, or have suffered a little minor damage in their journey through the world.  Recently, the idea came to me to make a bracelet using the rust-colored circles you see above.  I pulled them out and then realized they would look perfect interspersed with some of the African Trade Beads in my collection.  I chose the exact placement of each bead to achieve the color balance I wanted and felt the only thing that would honor them was handmade chain.  I created each link from brass wire, darkened them, and connected them one by one.  I think the rustic-ness of the handmade chain complements these beads far better than the shiny perfection of a machine-made chain.

Some of the beads used in the bracelet include Venetian “French Cross”, Venetian Chevrons, and Venetian Millefiories.   There are many sources for African Trade Beads and one I’ve used for years is Picard Beads, they are experts in African Trade Beads.  Picard has a Trade Bead Museum and African Art Gallery in Carmel, CA and they have authored a number of publications on these beads.  I would love, love to visit the museum and whenever I visit their website, I am so tempted…

I won’t attempt to explain the history of these beads.  There are others far more qualified than me.  I do hope to convey my love of these beads and help you see their beauty.  Because of the age of some of the beads, they can be rare and therefore expensive, however they are worth learning more about and investing in.

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