Saturday, January 31, 2009


Well, I for one am glad that the snow is done.... for now. Those Weather Forecasters are predicting more of the white stuff for this week, but hopefully they miss their mark and we don't get anymore. I don't mind looking at it, but having to drive in it and clean it up is another story altogether. Now Valerie on the other hand, loves nothing more than to go out there and roll in it and do face plants in it. You read right, she likes to plant her face in it! Ugh! She wasn't allowed to do that this week though. No, I'm not a mean Mom, just a concerned one. On Monday I took her to the doctor because she had been complaining of a sore throat.
Doctor said: "Throat infection and swollen lymph nodes."
Mom said: "No romping around in the snow."
Valerie said: "That's not fair!"
So we compromised. I let her walk around in the snow and that seemed to be good enough.
The doggies loved it too, digging around in it and running through it, coming in with snow beards, wet paws and bellies. That kind of stuff is just not for me. Give me 80 degrees and sunny any day...

On a different note, as you can see, I made a few changes. To the left of this blog you'll see my Etsy Mini. It is a sort of teaser for all those who visit my blog to go check out my Etsy Shop. It showcases my most recent pieces and is a link to my shop.
This week I focused on the Zulu Ibheqe which is the equivalent of a love letter or Valentine. A Zulu woman would make one for here suitor, fiance or husband and he would wear it to clarify the relationship between them to others that he was spoken for. Each shape and color means something specific as was noted in my last blog.
I also decided to sell my Award Winning piece from last years' FireMountain Gems Annual Beading Contest, The Ice Princess Collar, so it's in my Etsy Shop as well. There is another contest this year and I am planning on entering it. I have an idea of what I'd like to do...

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Year, New Designs

Happy New Year! Yes, I know it's a little late, but you know what they say, better late than never. I have been a little busy, if that can be used as an excuse. I have been cleaning house, rearranging the basement and sorting through stuff I don't need or use anymore. That takes time because you have to review everything you choose to get rid of and of course there are the memories and such that go along with it. But that doesn't mean that I haven't been beading. I have. First thing this year was a charity piece for Bead-It-Forward Breast Cancer Charity. The theme this year is 'Bead Artists have the Heart to take on Breast Cancer'. You have to incorporate a heart into your design which is beaded onto a square of Pellon 2 inches square. These squares are then sent in to Jeanette Shanigan who has been heading up this charity since 2006. Jeanette sews these squares into a quilt which will be sold at an auction at the 2009 Bead & Button Show in June. To learn more about this very worthy cause, check out Jeanettes' site at Below is a picture of my contribution.

I have also been educating myself. No, I'm not going to school in the traditional sense. I've always been fascinated with the beadwork of the Ndebele and Zulu people of South Africa. Since I lived there for quite a chunk of my life I thought it only fitting to do a little research on their techniques and their styles. So far, this is what I have learned: Both tribes use what is known to us as the Ndebele Herringbone Stitch. I had never used it before, so I taught myself how to, with the use of some online tutorials. It's a very simple stitch and one can complete a piece in half the time that it would take to work a piece in Peyote Stitch. I also learned that color is very important and that each color means something and can mean different things depending on how they are arranged. For instance, the Ndebele use the same patterns and colors in their beadwork as they do in the painting of their houses. It is the women of the household that do the beadwork and the painting. The painting of the gates, walls and houses, done with care and precision, speaks of a good wife and mother in the home. The original reason for painting was to express prayers, self-identification, values, emotions and marriage. This tradition of wall painting is passed down from generation to generation by mothers. The bead work that is created by these woman are for everyday use and special occasions such as weddings. Today, bracelets and necklaces are sold along with beaded gourds and beaded dolls. Below is a picture of a bracelet I made with an Ndebele pattern that could be found on a painted house or wall. This piece is available on my Etsy site.

Zulu beadwork is a little bit different. I found that they choose to work in the shapes of triangles and diamonds. Their beadwork is also created by the women of the household and their main clients are men. The men wear the beaded items to show involvement with the woman they may marry. Colors have alternate meanings, both positive and negative, except for white which has no negative connotation. For example:

Black in its positive meaning can represent marriage or regeneration, but in it's negative form it can mean sorrow, despair or death.

Blue in its positive meaning can represent fidelity, request, and it's negative meaning is ill feeling or hostility.

Yellow in the positive means wealth, a garden, industry and fertility, but in the negative it means thirst, badness, withering away.

Green in the positive means contentment, domestic bliss. In the negative, illness and discord.

Pink in the positive means high birth or rank, an oath or promise. In the negative, poverty or laziness.

Red in the positive means strong emotion, physical love. In the negative, anger, heartache and impatience.

White is always positive and represents Spiritual love, purity, virginity

The Triangle

The three corners of a triangle represents FATHER, MOTHER and CHILD. As a basic unit of design it can:
Be inverted, apex pointing downward. This signifies the unfulfilled man principle (Unmarried man) or...
Be positioned with the apex pointing downwards, signifying the unfulfilled female principle (Unmarried woman).
Join with another along the base to form a diamond (stylised egg, a universal fertility symbol) representing the complete female principle (Married Woman).
Be positioned with apexes meeting, an hourglass shape, symbol of the complete male principle (married man).

I designed and beaded a necklace (also available at my Etsy store), but please don't try to decipher any meaning from it. It was designed and made to 1.) practice Ndebele Herringbone Stitch which I had just taught myself and 2.) just for fun. There is no hidden meaning behind it!