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interesting discovery today-
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Posted by: stefany Post Reply
12/01/2019, 12:11:11

these are hollow, carved and appear to me to be stained soapstone perhaps?
the paper has 5mm squares.the largest is approx 15mm diameter. On close inspection even the tiny beads between are carved and drilled from the same stone...they are individually carved ...not bone, horn or shell, nor pottery nor glass...opinions?

IMG_0249.JPG (173.2 KB)  IMG_0251.JPG (214.7 KB)  


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Dyed tagua nut?
Re: interesting discovery today- -- stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/01/2019, 13:31:57



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Eucalyptus seedpods?
Re: interesting discovery today- -- stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: hans Post Reply
12/01/2019, 13:56:19

hi Stefany, is it possible these are reworked seedpods?
There are some Eucalyptus specimen with a similarity.
So maybe not stone but hard, dyed vegetable material?



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Re: Eucalyptus seedpods? for Rosanna and Hans
Re: Eucalyptus seedpods? -- hans Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: stefany Post Reply
12/01/2019, 14:35:54

thanks for your responses but they have both only appeared as private messages, not on the main BCN page ??
anyway the material seems too dense and hard for organic material unless it were a very hard nutshell -and the broken one is the same colour at the broken edges - the range of colours does remind me of soapstone.
it doesn't help that the vendor repeated what someone had told him
that they were so very ancient, and someone suggested it was Lava stone...



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Re: Re: Eucalyptus seedpods? for Rosanna and Hans
Re: Re: Eucalyptus seedpods? for Rosanna and Hans -- stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: stefany Post Reply
12/01/2019, 14:50:54

(the page is ok now...)

if it was dyed Vegetable ivory then the dye would remain on the surface but not penetrate evenly...but these clink on my teeth...



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Re: interesting discovery today-
Re: interesting discovery today- -- stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Laboom Post Reply
12/01/2019, 18:03:43

If you have an unglazed tile, take the collapsed bead and scratch an edge of it on the tile. Soapstone will leave a white streak.



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Re: interesting discovery today-/Chinese Carved Wood?
Re: interesting discovery today- -- stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
12/02/2019, 07:56:58

Reminds me of the carved wood beads in this Chinese necklace- except for size differences...? This says "wood" but some of the wood may be carved seeds.

The irregularity of the sizes, variation in color, and the way the center of your beads looks does remind me of something like a seed...

Can I get a close-up of the cross-section...am I seeing little dots?

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Mon, Dec 02, 2019, 08:11:27

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Re: Re: interesting discovery today-/Chinese Carved Wood?
Re: Re: interesting discovery today-/Chinese Carved Wood? -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: stefany Post Reply
12/02/2019, 08:24:20

i do have many of the carved nuts you show - mine are not wood or nutshell but something harder and more brittle..but they may be chinese anyway ?



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An alien life form?
Re: Re: Re: interesting discovery today-/Chinese Carved Wood? -- stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: jrj Post Reply
12/04/2019, 15:12:44



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petrified tagua nut beads?
Re: interesting discovery today- -- stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: jrj Post Reply
12/05/2019, 17:39:27

What if you took old tagua nut beads like those shown in the photo below (I assume these are tagua nut), drilled out the roundels to create round openings and a void at the core of each, and then colored and petrified the remains using an expedited petrifying technique like this (from the Internet):

How do you petrify wood fast?
It involves soaking a section of wood in hydrochloric acid for two days and then in either a silica or titanium solution for another two days. After air-drying, the wood is placed in an argon gas filled furnace and slowly heated to 1400° Celsius over a period of two hours. Jul 1, 2015

jrj_12_052019.jpg (73.3 KB)  


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I believe these are old casein (Galalith) beads
Re: petrified tagua nut beads? -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/05/2019, 18:04:16

I happen to have some. Casein dates from 1899, and it can warp and crack when exposed to humidity and heat over a long period of time. These beads are from the early 1900s so around 100 years old.

The material is semi-synthetic. It's composed of the milk protein casein, cross-linked with formaldehyde. Galalith (milk-stone) was the main trade name in France. In England one trade name was Erinoid; however the shortened form of the industrial name "casein formaldehyde" was usually used. One of the first large uses of casein was to make imitation horn buttons and casein was also often referred to simply as "imitation horn".

Casein takes dyes well so a large variety of colors of casein beads were made. It carves easily so a lot of beads with this type of geometric design were made. I think they are kind of mechanical-looking. The other type of casein bead you'll see quite often is two-tone, made by dyeing the outer layer and carving deep into the ivory white (natural color of casein) interior.

Casein beads are very often listed for sale as Bakelite. Interestingly, dyed tagua nut is also sometimes advertised as old Bakelite. I know because I have bought some and had to return them.

RFCaseinDec2019.jpg (36.6 KB)  


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Interesting, but don't you think they're the same form as Stephany's...
Re: I believe these are old casein (Galalith) beads -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: jrj Post Reply
12/06/2019, 01:36:01

with the roundels drilled out and a hollowed out core? Color could be added to the casein so it's colored throughout it's cross section. The question remains as to could they be made as hard as Stefany's?



Modified by jrj at Fri, Dec 06, 2019, 01:37:38

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not the same at all but I might try to get to TUCSON!
Re: Interesting, but don't you think they're the same form as Stephany's... -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: stefany Post Reply
12/06/2019, 06:07:11

i have plenty of the circle-dot casein-type beads from early last century- often on rosaries but like Rosanna's - all the same size.
that is a different material.
Mine have a ceramic-like brittle hardness. maybe they were first shaped and carved and only then fired in a kiln?
if i get to Tucson i would bring them with me...




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Um..., No!
Re: petrified tagua nut beads? -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/06/2019, 18:10:48

It has been some time since we had any discussion of the issues that are raised here.

One is "tagua"—and the fact that several organic materials (seeds, etc.) are exploited and called "vegetable ivory"—and it is not unusual for all of these products to be misidentified as "tagua." It happens constantly.

The other is the misidentification of the present material—that I have correctly ID'd in the past. This being "Chinese composition" (made from various factory dusts, glued together or 'reconstructed' to form a block material that is made into beads). Composition can be pale (from recycled bone or ivory dust), or colored (exploiting wood dust, incense ash, and possibly other materials).

A typical bead has been cut into spherical shapes, then dyed, then cut to have raised "eyes"—as we see with the present beads.

I have discussed all this so long ago, I suppose no one remembers. At the early days of Beads-L, and at the previous iteration of BeadCollector Forum.

In any event, a mistaken identification that Chinese composition is "tagua" (or 'vegetable ivory') is understandable—for anyone who doesn't have a handle on these topics. But there is a significant difference! JDA.



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P.S.
Re: Um..., No! -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/06/2019, 18:36:10

I do not recognize Stefany's beads—though I have seen beads that have similar shapes.

These are very curious beads—and I look forward to seeing them, when next I see Stefany. Perhaps at Tucson next month.

JDA.



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My point
Re: Um..., No! -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: jrj Post Reply
12/06/2019, 19:33:06

My point, which I believe I made clearly, was to suggest how an organic material could possibly be altered to have the stone-like properties Stefany described.

I clearly did not ID the beads definitively as tagua nut:

"Petrified tagua nut beads?": the question mark indicates this is a speculative comment.

"What if you took old tagua nut beads like those shown in the photo below (I assume these are tagua nut)": again, no definitive ID.



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Re: My point
Re: My point -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/06/2019, 22:39:31

My reply addresses the portion of this dialogue that is a subset of the discussion being pursued.

You begin by saying, "What if you took old tagua nut beads like those shown in the photo below (I assume these are tagua nut)...."

And my first point in reply is that these are not "tagua nut beads." They are composition beads from China. So I challenged your assumption. I also think that, if the beads in-question are old beads, any suggestion that they have been "transformed" from an organic material to a mineral, via lab "petrification" is extremely unlikely.

The material of Stafany's beads seem to appear organic (as from a seed or nut). But I could not rule-out that it MIGHT be a mineral or some constructed material. I will know better if/when I have an opportunity to see them.

I also challenged Rosanna's ID, suggesting these beads are "casein"—since I know they are not casein. (Because I recognize them to be Chinese composition.)

The further reply, suggesting that these composition beads could be transformed into the beads Stefany shows (even if this is an abstract suggestion), is just silly.

JDA.



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Very interesting!
Re: Um..., No! -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/07/2019, 12:53:56

I'll add one of my beads to the group that needs ID from the chem lab. I hope to get some formal analyses done in the next few months.

I got mine off a necklace where all the other beads were phenolic resin. I assumed they were contemporaneous, however I don't recall if I did any testing. I re-tested them just now using various sniff tests, and I thought they"could" be casein. The odors are very faint. I have not done the hot-point test.

I have a small pile of synthetic beads & buttons that I couldn't ID for sure, and I have learned from the button collectors that "composition" is a material category. The odors from the composition buttons defy description, and the hot point tests don't match any of the "pure" plastics that I've tested so far.

Do you know anything else about the Chinese composition beads - specifically when they first appeared on the market? Do you have any that you can show for comparison?



Modified by Rosanna at Sat, Dec 07, 2019, 14:04:38

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Composition
Re: Very interesting! -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/07/2019, 14:43:59

I have pieced-together what I know from little snatches of information, mostly from antique sellers and a few collectors. A lot of what I say is "my take" on the situation. And what I say is vague because there is no real information.

A few years ago, after discussions with Deborah Zinn (Beads-L), I received some buttons that were (she said) composition made with powdered horn. And they resemble horn.

So I wonder if your buttons (or beads) have an odor (via hot-pointing) that is like keratin (?). A burning-hair smell. But this would be compounded by whatever was used to glue the dust together. I have been assuming (for Chinese stuff that may be ca 100 years old), that the glue would be something organic—like rabbit glue. But this is only a considered guess. These materials are not "plastic," and are not going to smell like plastic. Certainly not casein—though casein (being made from milk) would also have a musty burnt-protein odor. Casein also tends to soften just in water.

I can show the Chinese composition beads I have (when I come across them). A very few are artistic and interesting. But most of them look exactly like the beads we've already seen. Exterior colors can be different—but the dyes used are often fairly dull.

Funny story. In the early '70s I bought a long necklace at a White Elephant Sale at my church. The lady who donated it told me they had been hers. And she was told the beads were "fish bones, from fish that lived in the Nile River in Egypt." Of course, I did not think this was remotely possible. This cut does not resemble fish bones. These particular beads had a dyed-red exterior.

JDA.



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P.S.
Re: Composition -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/07/2019, 14:47:10

I have documented a number of pieces (from China) that are composition made from wood dust. These also resemble wood—being brown in color. They have been called "pressed wood" by some collectors. (I think this is a construct that has been taken from "pressed amber"—which is very different.) Reconstruct wood would be a better name.



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Now it's my turn to be skeptical
Re: Composition -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/07/2019, 20:04:45

IMHO the buttons that resemble horn are probably casein buttons (see center part of top button, but not the greatest example) since casein was deliberately colored and blended to be a horn substitute. I tend to doubt that a powder suspended in any kind of matrix, would look like real horn. Did you hot pin one of them?

I haven't spent a huge amount of time on casein beads & buttons but yes they often smell strongly like musty milk. Sometime I have to heat the item very hot in hot water, or use a hot point, to be sure. Some items have very little odor by comparison, so they may not be pure casein formaldehyde but CF blended with something else. As usual, impossible to know for sure without a lab test.

After I learned about composition buttons, I realized that there were synthetic or semi-synthetic concoctions also used for beads that will likely be impossible to identify. When I went to the CA button show recently, I was able to pick up a button considered to be "composition". Hot needling it produces a noxious odor. When I say it is indescribable, I mean that to me, it's apparent that it's a conglomeration of industrial plastics & resins but nothing identifiable. The ID could only be done by analytical instruments. But definitely not rubber, casein, phenolic, or any of the newer thermoplastics that I've tested multiple times.

FYI - getting a fishy odor from a bead - which may be the reason someone thought a bead was made of fish bones, is the tell-tale odor of urea formaldehyde (UF). It was also a thermoset and commercialized in 1929 as a replacement for Bakelite. UF takes colors better than Bakelite so it's found in a very wide range of colors. The trade name in the UK was "Beetle" and it was used for buttons for certain. I don't have any beads that I know or suspect are made from UF but they are probably out there. Another related material with a fishy odor is melamine formaldehyde, also used for buttons from the 1940s. No idea at present if it was ever made into beads. Note that buttons were made from the early plastics by press-molding to a net shape. Beads made from thermoset plastics had to be machined, then polished. It's possible some plastics didn't machine well or didn't polish up into something that was attractive enough for jewelry. Interesting topic though.

GalalithButtons2.jpg (43.5 KB)  


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I am also Skeptical
Re: Now it's my turn to be skeptical -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/08/2019, 08:38:58

So many unnecessary tangents.

Really, this is a discussion for a different dialogue. There's no point in hijaking this thread. But to respond to your points:

The "horn composition" buttons came from an informed button-collector. One of the people who is often touted as being among the "informed people" who are supposedly "way ahead of bead collectors." I took this at face value, and I did not test those buttons that I recall. They are stacked in a vial somewhere.

In any event, they are not remotely like the buttons you show. And, in fact, they do look like horn—being tannish-gray (though not all the same color as I recall)—and like something you'd see on a nice tailored formal coat (male or female).

I am (reasonably) 100% sure the person who had the "fish bone" beads did not smell them and make some comparison. This was just a made-up story to make the beads seem more interesting. So there is no point in devising a rationalization why someone would say that about "fishy plastic."

But whether there are plastic or synthetic materials that are being mistaken for "composition" is another topic entirely. That is certainly possible in some instances. I am talking about stuff I am familiar with, and expressing my opinions about it—or about the topic ("reconstructed Chinese materials").

100 years ago (+ or -) composition beads were manufactured to become cheap custume jewelry exports from China. That's all they are.



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Re: interesting discovery today-/Soapstone?
Re: interesting discovery today- -- stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
12/20/2019, 22:17:42

I just thought of this- What if they are Soapstone? You said this in your initial post, and may be right. Soapstone is easily craved, then can be hardened by fire into a pretty different appearance, and becomes much harder.
As for the color variations- no clue..but 2nd pic not too far off?

Anne

eBay Listing:

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Fri, Dec 20, 2019, 22:25:09

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Re: Re: interesting discovery today-/Soapstone?
Re: Re: interesting discovery today-/Soapstone? -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: stefany Post Reply
12/21/2019, 12:27:01

hi Anne
well yes i also have definite examples of carved soapstone beads very similar to your illustrated ones and i tend to think its what they might be made of- though the carving is on a much finer scale and the material does feel harder and brittle.
hope to show them to more friends when i get to Tucson, because its increasingly difficult to find any beads we haven't seen before...



Modified by stefany at Sat, Dec 21, 2019, 12:34:27

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