Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Occasionally I Make Exceptions for Chartreuse

It's unseasonably cold in Maputo today, right on the heels of yesterday's extra muggy heat. The weather forecast says it will be between 20C and 24C through Thursday, with intermittent rain. I find this very exciting, as it's an excuse for me to wear fleece pants, sheepskin slippers, sip hot chocolate, eat mashed potatoes and soup, and cuddle with all three cats piled on top of me. All the beauty of winter without the actual cold. ;)

I spent the day working, sorting out a potential trip to Tofo and making jewelry. I've been doing lots of research on the various types of trade beads that wash up on the beaches of Ilha, and I had the satisfaction of identifying two types of beads that have been eluding me for quite some time.

One is these brick red tube beads that have almost a matte finish. They are called "green hearts" and, as the name suggests, have a core of green glass with only the outer layer in red because apparently red glass was very expensive back in the day. The "green hearts" are the thrifty way to get a nice red bead.

The other beads I identified are quite intriguing. They are a matte chartreuse color (greenish-yellow) and very irregular. Most are short tube shapes that have clearly been worn down over the centuries. I finally discovered that these are called Hebron beads, and were originally manufactured in Palestine using a top-secret method that included salt from the Dead Sea. Hebron beads have been made since the time of the Romans, although the ones that ended up in Africa are primarily from the 1700's. Still, the idea of 300-year-old beads is thrilling to me.

I made a beautiful necklace today using some chunky Hebron beads, small turquoise rounds and some Hill Tribes silver accents. I really love it, and despite the fact that the color chartreuse makes me look like I'm about to fall ill, I am sorely tempted to keep the necklace for myself. It has resonated with me somehow, perhaps because I've just discovered the origin of these beads.

I am off to make my third mug of hot chocolate of the day and watch whatever is showing on The Style Channel. Rico is still away in Zambézia Province, and the idea of winter-style nesting makes me feel comforted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

are you going to try and visit ilha de mocambique before you leave? To visit the site of your much treasured trade beads.
Enjoy Tofo. it gets windy this time of year over there.