My Chinese Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment. Serves as the repository for my beads. Handcrafted. It has 52 Drawers, mostly sorted by color.
2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila! 52 Necklaces!
Week 30/Drawer 30: July 26, 2017: “Don’t Let Your World Get Small”
This necklace focuses on the centerpiece; it is an artist-made glass petal wrapped over itself, leaving a ruffled opening for the necklace designer to embellish. I will confess I bought 6 of these in different colors from the husband and wife designers and I have no record of their names. My apologies since I pride myself on acknowledging artists I use in my work. I further confess I have made them all in the same style; namely, with multi strands of seed beads flowing from the center.
There should be an equal focus on the rare Bohemia beads I used in the necklace. I wanted to keep their purple color flowing in the centerpiece and was able to bring in green with a tube of seed beads that are green outside and purple inside! The glass drops are also Bohemia beads.
In 1995-9, there was a trader called Ava who held semi-annual trunk shows at my favorite bead shop in Palo Alto. She sold exclusively what she called “pre-war pressed glass beads from Bohemia”. They were exquisite and expensive and I was smart enough to buy from her every time she visited.
Bohemia is actually the precursor of the Czech Republic and touched Austria, Hungary, Germany, and Poland. Glass beads were made there from the 12th century but not until a trade show in Prague in 1829 were they commercially introduced. By 1850, the Germans had invented costume jewelry and Austria became the premier producer of the finest glass crystals in the world…think Swarovski. Pressed glass (which means molten glass poured into a mold) boomed until the run-up to WWII in the 1930’s and then ceased during the war years.
In postwar 1946, the German glassworkers in Bohemia were given 48 hours to leave. They were able to take precious little; the Czechs moved in to their homes and factories. But the Germans soon coalesced in Neu Gablonz in a bombed out ammunitions factory. They still make pressed glass but not of the pre-war quality they made in Bohemia.
Now take another look at the 12 large round purple beads in the necklace and the five drops in the centerpiece strands: they are pre-war pressed glass beads. Made in a mold, but no mold marks. They are as translucent as any finely cut gemstone. Dark purple large faceted glass discs and small light purple faceted discs finish the 18” necklace. The centerpiece is 4.5” long and 2” at its widest. Gold metal magnet clasp. Earrings to match. $159 for the set.