Monday, June 16, 2008

Beads and Beadwork: An Introduction

Beads have been part of the human story for thousands of years. Any small decorative object that is pierced for threading or stringing may be considered a bead. Beads range in size from miniscule to several centimeters in length and are made from a wide variety of colorful materials including glass, pearls, coral, wood, bone, ivory, seeds and shells. The oldest beads found to date were made from ostrich eggshells around 10,000 BCE.

Most people associate beads with jewelry. Beads are also used to embellish clothing and create accessories such as belts and purses. But historically beads have often functioned as more than adornment. They have been used as ritual offerings, given curative powers, served as prompts to prayer, and acted as a means of exchange for procuring goods.

Beadwork is the art or craft of attaching beads to one another or to other objects for decorative purposes. Generally beadwork falls into one of two categories, woven or sewn. Woven work is created on a bead loom. Sewn beadwork is made by attaching beads with a needle and thread to a piece of fabric, leather or other material. Some parts of Asia and Africa have been producing beaded art since ancient times. The Indians of North America are famous for their exceptional and exquisite beadwork.

The San Francisco Public Library has an extensive collection of reference and circulating books on this topic. Most of these titles may be found in the online catalog by typing bead or beadwork in the Subject field. Below is a list of some of the newest titles:

Beading With Charms: Beautiful Jewelry, Simple Techniques by Katherine Duncan Aimone. New York: Lark Books, 2007. 745.5942 D9121b

Beadwork Creates Jewelry: 40 Beaded Designs by Jean Campbell, editor. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 2007. 745.5942 B3594

Getting Started With Seed Beads by Dustin Wedekind. Loveland, Colo.: Interweave Press, 2007. 745.5942 W414g

Make It In Minutes. Beaded jewelry by Wendy Remmers. New York: Lark Books, c2007. 745.582 R285m

Mastering Beadwork: A Comprehensive Guide To Off-loom Techniques by Carol Huber Cypher. Loveland, Colo.: Interweave Press, c2007. 745.582 C9927m

Simply Stunning Beaded Jewelry by Donatella Ciotti. New York, NY: Sterling Pub., 2007. 745.5942 C494s

Stringing Style 2: 50 More Designs For beaded Jewelry by Jean Campbell, editor. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, c2007. 745.5942 St867

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