Also know as cobalt blue beads, they were not made in Russia, but were used by Russian traders in the 1800’s in exchange for fur pelts across the Americas from the Northwest Territories to Hudson Bay. Prized for their unique colors and shapes, Russian Blue Glass Beads even found their way to Africa. Faceted gemstone beads inspired Bohemian artisans who had access to a plentiful supply of running water which supplied the energy for the grinding wheels needed to cut glass.
In the past, these beads were made from recycled phonograph records and cut up into a sequin-like fashion. I wonder where they got all the records? Today, they come in a rainbow of colors and are also known as vulcanized beads. The beads made from vulcanized rubber with traces of vinyl. Vulcanized rubber is a chemical process to harden rubber. The spacers are made in Czech Republic or Germany and then exported to West Africa.
Hand carved and shaped into many sizes, the beads are made from cattle, camel, or Cape buffalo bone. After the bones are bleached, they are treated with a batik-like process in which patterns are painted on the surface with wax. Patterning occurs when the bone is dyed and the waxed areas are left natural. Traditional geometric patterns include stripes, dots, swirls or other motifs.
Whenever in Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Flea Market is a must-go, as it is the Mother-of-All-Flea-Markets. And whenever I visit it, I am in heaven. Once when I got there very late, there were tables and tables of African beads, and I wanted to buy all of them. I was overwhelmed by the colors and textures of the beads.
My mantra is you can never have too many beads. People who collect beads understand this. Not only are they beautiful, but I believe I am holding history in my hand and I wonder, especially with African beads, where has this bead been, and how many hands have held the beads before they I fell in love with them and added this particular string of beads to my collection.
On one trip, I came very close to the Santa Fe Flea Market closing time and found the majority of bead traders were packing up. There was one particular bead trader, Bakai Saho, offered to unpack his beads for me. I told him that I could not take up his generous offer. I have done many art fairs and know how long it takes to pack and unpack all of your goods. I gave him my contact information and Bakai said, if he was ever in Fort Collins, he surely would look me up.
A year went by and totally forgot about Bakai until my cell rang. Bakai Saho was in Fort Collins. We finally arranged to get together and it was a start of a friendship, a collaboration and business venture.
I could tell many stories about Bakai, but maybe later. I did many markets with him selling his beads. This is where I fell with African beads and their stories. Beads are a mainstay in my jewelry. At Screen Door Studios, I have a wide selection of African beads for sale and many pieces of jewelry made from African beads, which continue to inspire me.
Stay tuned, as I plan on sharing the stories of my favorite beads and how I used them in my jewelry.
The owners of Horse & Dragon are hosting a trunk show of my recycled art on Saturday July 27th from 2-5 PM. Come taste their wonderful beer and see my bottle cap bead jewelry, tee shirt skirts and upcycled shirts in one of my favorite places in Fort Collins.
I love the quirkiness of Horse & Dragon Brewery. It’s so comfortable. It does not exude a corporate atmosphere. The brewery and tasting room have a hometown feeling. The tables are made from thick recycled wood, playing cards are readily available, and the music makes me want to get up and dance.
And every beer I have ever had at Horse and Dragon has been outstanding. After meeting Carol and Tim Corcoran, owners and visionaries of Horse & Dragon, I found we had a lot in common.
They have created a little brewery with a great heart. The heart of Horse & Dragon Brewery includes high quality beer, fantastic and dedicated employees that make my time in the tasting room fun, dedication to recycling and the environment, their passion for birds and bicycling, eco-friendliness and their love of international travel. It is at their patio I encountered my first bee hotel. We share many of the same values.
“We have dreamed of and planned for Horse & Dragon since our honeymoon, which we took in Napa Valley (the non-Colorado one) and during which we had every dinner at that beautiful wine country at a local brewpub.” says Tim and Carol Corcoran, owners of the visionary brewery Horse & Dragon Brewery of Fort Collins, Colorado. We are all lucky they chose Fort Collins to brew their magic.
“Thanks for sharing and caring for Earth with us.” The founders say and “its vital for people to relax and connect with each other in today’s increasingly busy, stressed, individualized, and disconnected world. Craft beer Is a fantastic and tasty way to accomplish this.”
Horse and Dragon is founded on four principles to make great beer, minimize their environmental footprint, treat everyone ethically and to be proactive members of our community.
I love birds and Tim and Carol put up a kestrel nesting box this winter. A pair of kestrels nested,and laid five eggs in the late spring. Only three birds survived due to the weather, and they recently fledged. The whole time the kestrels were in residence, Horse and Dragon live streamed their antics.
The black and red logo of Horse and Dragon speaks volumes how they feel about their beer. It’s strong, striking, unique and eye-catching. The logo is a combination of the Corcoran’s Chinese zodiac signs. Carol’s Chinese zodiac sign is the horse and Tim’s is the dragon. It reminds me of a coat of arms. I love their logo.
Before I met the owners of Horse and Dragon Brewery, I bought two half growlers of their beer at Pringles because their logo caught my eye. I coveted their bottle caps. I loved the logo that much.
I was pleased beyond belief when I walked into the Horse and Dragon tasting room. I had a meeting with Carol and showed her my jewelry. I was hoping it would be a good fit to sell in the tasting room. She immediately said, “Yes.” without blinking an eye further proving Horse and Dragon’s commitment to recycling and their commitment to being proactive members of their community. They embraced my art and passion for recycling.
A glass display case of Horse and Dragon bottle cap earrings, bracelets and necklaces are available for sale at the tasting room at 124 Racquette Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado. The tap room is open everyday twelve to six every day.
Champagne corks and everything about them is intriguing. From the cork to the basket to the metal cap that is under the basket over the cork—all of these aspects have been a particular interest to me.
I have been known to purchase beer or soda because I like the design of the caps, but all bets are off when it comes to champagne. I have no idea what’s under the foil that covers the cork and basket and champagne cap.
It’s a mystery. Additionally, good champagne is a bit pricey and I need two metal champagne caps to make one bead. It’s all chance and luck. Once you remove the foil and see what’s underneath, then the inspiration and magic begins.
I put the word out to all my friends to save the baskets and bottle caps for every bottle of champagne they uncorked for every lifetime event they celebrated—weddings and anniversaries, or if, by chance, they ever launched a boat. I found the variety of champagne caps astounding.
I pound the caps out like beer bottle caps although the metal is more stout and it takes a heavy hammer to remove the four creases in the sides. The good news is the caps do not need to be disced like beer bottle caps.
Champagne cap beads need to be shaped and sanded, but the metal is thicker than other bottle caps. The process of turning champagne caps into beads is longer and requires a lot more muscle power.
To make champagne beads is difficult, but the effort makes larger and, I think, more beautiful beads. The champagne caps are more pictorial and may not include the name of the brand. Each champagne cap bead I create is a celebration and I can hear the pop of the cork and my friends celebrating important life events.