Re: Indonesia - Part II -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Mail author
04/30/2009, 03:08:58

Russ asked if I had anything new to say on the topic of using old/ancient beads as sources for glass in the manufacture of new beads.

Frankly my opinion has not changed very much!

I do not think it would be fair to say it never happens—if only because I don't know what all may happen in Indonesian glass-beadmaking. But I would bet that this idea is tossed around and asserted much more often than it would be true.

Let's take the red beads I showed that I bought at Jeff's store. They are just the wrong color to be old glass from a source such as Indo-Pacific beads or jatim (because these beads are always opaque brick-red, ranging from carmine to chocolate in color). JIm Lankton told me that he had been advised that Jember beadmakers want to use "old red glass" in their modern reproductions, because the red glass available to them does not present an authentic effect. This shores-up my disposition, but also says that sometimes they DO use old glass, because it provides certain colors that would be almost unattainable otherwise.

There are MANY instances where we can tell a bead is a recent fake, BECAUSE the color of the red glass is wrong for the period of the beads in question. Just three years ago, the new Chinese chevron beads that copy Venetian prototypes could be distinguished because the red they used was wrong—it being too red-red and translucent, and not like Venetian brick-red at all....

I still have to think that a major and practical consideration would be the compatibility of different colors, if old/ancient glass were to be combined with new glass. I suppose there may be some way around this problem/issue—but because I am (most certainly) not a glass chemist, I can't discuss it with any authority.

As I said, what I really think is that this is a story that is told to garner a sale. And, it gets told between the "these beads are ancient" story (when the buyer doesn't believe it) and the admission that the beads are just new (when the "old glass for new beads" story is not believed). Some years ago, beads were being sold out of Indonesia that were said to be "obsidian" (natural volcanic glass)—that seem to actually be just glass. Because they are really neat beads, the fake story is usually forgiven. But, in point of fact, when you make neat beads, there is no need to rely on a fake story. Go figure.

So, my conclusion is this: it is possibly sometimes true, but not nearly as often as it may be suggested. Meaning it is mostly not true.


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