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Beadwork


Beadwork is the art or craft of attaching beads to one another by stringing them with a sewing needle or beading needle and thread or thin wire, or sewing them to cloth. Beads come in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes. Beads are used to create jewelry or other articles of personal adornment; they are also used in wall hangings and sculpture and many other artworks.

Beadwork techniques are broadly divided into loom and off-loom weaving, stringing, bead embroidery, bead crochet, and bead knitting.

Beads, made of durable materials, survive in the archaeological record appearing with the very advent of modern man, Homo sapiens.

Beads are used for religious purposes, as good luck talismans, for barter, and as curative agents.

Modern beadwork is often used as a creative hobby to create jewelry, handbags, coasters, and dozens of other crafts. Beads are available in many different designs, sizes, colors, shapes, and materials, allowing much variation among bead artisans and projects. Simple projects can be created in less than an hour by novice beaders, while complex beadwork may take weeks of meticulous work with specialized tools and equipment. Many free patterns and tutorials can be found in Internet.

Faience is a mixture of powdered clays and lime, soda and silica sand. This is mixed with water to make a paste and molded around a small stick or bit of straw. It is then ready to be fired into a bead. As the bead heats up, the soda, sand and lime melt into glass that incorporates and covers the clay. The result is a hard bead covered in bluish glass.

This process was probably discovered first in Mesopotamia and then imported to Egypt. However, it was the Egyptians who made it their own art form. Since before the 1st dynasty of Narmer (3100 B.C.) to the last dynasty of the Ptolomies (33 B.C.) and to the present day, faience beads have been made in the same way.



  • Berlo, Janet C.; Ruth B. Phillips (1998). Native North American Art. Oxford History of Art. Oxford University Press. ISBN . 
  • Dubin, Lois Sherr (1999). North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment: From Prehistory to the Present. New York: Harry N. Abrams.
  • Dubin, Lois Sherr (2009). The History of Beads: From 100,000 B.C. to the Present. New York: Harry N. Abrams. .
  • Beads and beadwork. (1996). In Encyclopedia of north american indians, Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://search.credoreference.com/
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