Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beaded Jewelry by Susan: The Collections (cont.)

In an earlier post, I talked about The Rock Garden as an earring collection. Today I want to describe a category I call The Orient Express. The name comes from an old movie, Murder on the Orient Express, based on the Agatha Christie novel. In the movie and in real life, the Orient Express is a famous transcontinental train from the turn of the century; Paris and Istanbul were famous stopping points, although the routes have changed over the years. The name brings with it the exotic flavor of the East, of the cultures of Asia.

     So some of the earrings in the collection are made with cloisonne or Chinese enamel beads. In both cases, the technique is ancient and has been used not only for beads, but for vases, cups, and elaborate and ornate objects of all kinds.
      Basically, a design is set out in wires filled with colored powdered glass; then the bead is fired at high termperatures. The result is a combination of brilliant glossy color and intricate and elegant design.
      Enamel beads are extremely lightweight because the enameling is done on hollow copper beads. Cloisonne is very similar, but the core bead is a slightly heavier metal.

     In addition to these kinds of beads, the Orient Express collection includes carved stone beads with Asian designs or beads with Asian coins as dangles. Some of the coins include Ying and Yang symbols, representations of the two life forces -- male and female -- in the universe. They usually appear together and entwined in some way to indicate the need for balance and to show how each is part of the other. It's a powerful concept. In the earrings shown below, inside the blue diamond shape is the circle of the Tao, with the Ying and Yang symbols inside of it. Notice there is a dot of black inside the white and white inside the black.

    Carvings in both stone and wood can be very detailed. They sometimes incorporate designs that resemble the characters for wishing someone great longevity and other good luck.
    Porcelain beads, especially with Chinese characters on them, also are good examples of this category. Porcelain is a special type of ceramic pottery that is very fine and the glazing can be as intricate as stone carving. Blue and white is probably the most

 popular color combination in porcelain, but black and white or black with floral designs featuring pink flowers are also very common.

     Red is an important color as well. Carved cinnabar was famous in ancient times, but cinnabar is toxic, so what is still sometimes called cinnabar is actually carved wood. In the necklace shown below, carved "cinnabar" wood is combined with other materials, such as porcelain and dangles, that are familiar materials in the Orient Express collection.


I hope this gives you an idea of the range of materials and styles that are in my Orient Express Collection. Many earrings from this collection are available already (and more to come!) on my Etsy website.

1 comment:

  1. Nice collection Susan!!! I like your idea of the range of your jewelry and styles. I Like your express collection very much. Its different.
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