My Chinese Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during my husband’s 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 32/Drawer 32: August 9, 2017: “Fact from Legends”
This centerpiece is part of a 1940’s lampshade from Shanghai. And it is amazing that it exists at all! Shall I tell you why?
China was ruled by Mao Zedong from 1949, when he declared the People’s Republic of China was under one-party rule, until his death in 1976. The last ten years of his regime is known as The Cultural Revolution which aimed to purge capitalists and traditionalists from Chinese society in order to impose his own communist ideology. The purged were humiliated publicly; property was seized; youth were made to go to the countryside to learn from peasants; historical artifacts, such as Confucius’ birthplace, were destroyed; cultural and religious sites were ransacked; the only movies, books and theatre allowed were propaganda. Mao said he killed 1.5 million people; the true number is alleged to be up to 6 million.
When we lived in Hong Kong from 1993-4, I read many books on the Cultural Revolution, fascinated by the stories told. I also searched the antique shops for cultural artifacts—and found the pieces of the lampshade. The antiquarian told me how wealthy families managed to hide their treasures, mostly by burying them in the ground. I also purchased a few finely-embroidered patches mandarins wore on their robes in the Imperial Court which ended in 1912.
As for the necklace, the beads are mostly cobalt Czech glass. The 14 cylinder beads are pre-war Bohemia pressed glass (see Drawer 30 for that history); the four small circles, plus the earrings, are glass beads made in Holland starting in the 1800’s for trade in Africa. The lampshade centerpiece is enamel on copper and is trimmed in cobalt blue. The clasp is glass with a sterling silver hook I fashioned.
The two-strand necklace measures 23.5”plus 2.5” for the centerpiece and dangles. The earrings are 1.5” long. The set is $119.
This is a necklace I made some time ago. It features freshwater pearls, garnet and seed beads. I removed the tassels from the top piece and added a seed bead tassel.
There are four long single tassels hanging from the top piece and three pearl and garnet single tassels from the bottom, between the long original silk tassels.
Here are three of the four enamel-on-copper pieces from a 1940 Shanghai chandelier that I still have for future projects.