I love beads. it's not just how pretty they can look, but the history or origin of the bead and how they were made also facinates me. On this page, i have included what I think some of the most interesting beads that I've used for my jewellery, and a little info about them.

Venetian Style Beads

Glass making is actually recorded at Venetian monasteries in 882 and established from 1200-1400. In 1292 all glass factories were relocated from Venice to the island of Murano, to protect Venice from the risk of fires, from the furnaces. Bead making was permitted again in 1592 in Venice and it soon became re-established. These earrings are made with 'Venetian Style beads'. They are hand made by winding glass canes onto copper rods, turning constanty under heat (lamps) and using different coloured glass canes to make the pattern - often raised 'blobs' to look like roses and wavy gold lines. This is called 'fiorate'

 

 Murano Style Beads

When the glass making factories were moved to Murano in 1292, many different techniques were developed. these earrings will have been made in a similar way to the Venetian Style beads - still adding gold lines and roses, but then adding another layer of wound glass on top. Often clear glass, then shaped.

 

 Millefiori Beads

Another favourite of mine is the mille-fiori bead. Although it was actually made thousands of years ago in Roman times (300BC-AD400) - they called them mosaic glass beads, the tecnique was redeveloped in Venice in the late 1400's but didnt become popular until the 1800's. The Venetians called them mille-fiori, which means 'thousand flowers'. The technique is created by making long  canes of glass in different colours joined together to make patterns (a bit like rock at the seaside). It is then rolled thinly and cut into little slices which are then fused onto a molten base, and pressed into a mould for the final shape

 

The Magical Eye Bead

In many cultures, its still widely believed that magic eye beads, (or evil eye beads) protect the wearer from illnesses or evil spirits. Some believe its regarded as harmful, others beneficial. They are made to stand out and or look garish, to draw the attention away from eye contact. The earliest known evidence of 'evil eye' is around 3000BC in Western Asia. Its a complex ideology which has not just been found in beads, but also represented in paintings on buildings or tombs and statues. Early evil eye beads were made out of onyx and banded agate between the 3rd and 1st millenium BC. They were cut and polished to look like eyes. The picture shows jewellery I made using glass beads

Dzi Beads

I hadnt heard of dzi beads until recently. These beads, I think are probably the most facinating. They are actually made out of etched agate and mainly found in Tibet. Because Tebetan religious beliefs prevent archaeologists from excavations, there is very little known about them. They are 'found' in grasslands or fields by farmers and shepherds. Because they find them in the earth, Tibetans don't believe they are man made. Mythical stories are told explaining where they originated from, such as, they were insects that used to move around like worms. If one was caught, it became petrified. There are 2 types of dzi beads. Pure dzi, which are valuable, and chung dzi, which is the least valuable type. Picture shows chung dzi beads