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"Mille Crumb" beads with Powder Glass Centers
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Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
09/18/2021, 14:20:30

I got a strand of these in Tucson last year - they were a lot nicer than other recycled Venetian beads that I've seen previously. The surfaces were smooth and glossy and the beads were fairly uniform in size. The perforations were conical. A nice example of "second life" beads!

The outer layer appears to be crushed-up Venetian millefiori trade beads beads that had black bases. Some beads have almost intact millefiori "eyes". The tan powder glass cores are visible on the ends and also in places where the coating had large gaps.

Is anyone familiar with the source or time frame for beads like these? I'm assuming West Africa, probably Ghana, but wonder if they are recent production.

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Modified by Rosanna at Sat, Sep 18, 2021, 14:22:16

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Re: African Powderglass Decorated with Venetian Crumbs
Re: "Mille Crumb" beads with Powder Glass Centers -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
09/18/2021, 15:42:27

From about 1981 until her death in 1995, I carried on an engaging correspondence with Elizabeth Harris, who was a member of The Bead Society in Los Angeles. Elizabeth was a fascinating person and an inspiration. She corresponded with bead-people around the world, participated with The Bead Museum in Arizona, managed the Library for The Bead Society, and routinely did identifications at meetings; and she often sent me interesting beads for my information, exposure, and collections. She was also a published author of several topical booklets that remain important. I often visited her when I was in Los angles. If you have followed my activities here at BCN Forum, you probably know I have mentioned her a number of times. My 1996 calendar, Eye Bead and Magic Amulets, is dedicated to her.

Sometime in the mid-to-late 1980s, Elizabeth and I shared some correspondence about West African powderglass beads that had been decorated with random crumbs of multi-colored Venetian glass beads. Clearly crumbs mainly from millefiori beads. Among the topics we discussed was the fact that there were actual Venetian beads that strongly resembled these African beads. And a primary question was "which of these came first?" As I recall, she also discussed this issue with Robert Liu. And I think there was a short exposition on this topic in Ornament magazine. (I will ask Robert about this.)

All of the above is to say, this is a topic that has circulated for some thirty years. But (of course) becomes "rediscovered" occasionally.



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more African Powderglass Decorated with Venetian Crumbs
Re: Re: African Powderglass Decorated with Venetian Crumbs -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: napoleone Post Reply
09/18/2021, 22:54:58

I bought these strands in 2011 in Ghana. The inner strand is from Florence Arare, KT Beads, Agomanya (near Accra):beads from this strand are about 24-25 mm large. I bough the outer strand, which is more coarsely made, in a market in Kumasi. "Beads of beads" were commonly made with cheap chinese seed beads; those made with old Venetian beads like these were sold at 1.5-2 $ each. I presumed they were quite recently made, as I've never seen them before in previous years in Florence factory or in Koforidoua bead market.
Giorgio

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Re: more African Powderglass Decorated with Venetian Crumbs
Re: more African Powderglass Decorated with Venetian Crumbs -- napoleone Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
09/19/2021, 01:17:38

Giorgio,

These are very different beads, of the type I named "fragment-glass" (as distinct from powderglass, because of how they are manufactured). Fragment-glass beads were devised by the mother of Cedi—and produced by him from the early 1990s, in single translucent colors. Making this sort of beads from glass seedbeads, and from fragments of trade beads was a later development. I have discussed these beads here as long ago as 2005, after my trip to Ghana.

However, from well before the 1990s there were African beads that were made from seedbeads. However their manufacture was different.

In any event, this is a different class of beads from the subject beads, that are crumb beads, made in the usual manner of powderglass beads. And made long before fragment-glass were devised.

In the African Bead Marketplace, fragment-glass beads are routinely called "recycled glass." However, this could describe nearly ANY African-made glass beads. So I do not find the name useful.

Jamey



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