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  Modern Marvels

By Sandra J. Paluzzi
The Bead Peddler®

It is indeed a testament to people's desire for adornment that beads are 75,000 years old.  The original beads were made of wood, bones and shells.

Throughout the ages, humankind has made many discoveries.  In every instance, appropriate discoveries were incorporated by bead makers and a new classification of bead was born.  Beads were one of the first things made of glass.  Molten metal was quickly transformed into beads.  When a glass press was made, pressed glass beads soon evolved, etc., etc., etc. 

A few months ago, we did a culture article on dichroic beads.  Dichroic glass was created in my lifetime.  It is not really surprising that glass workers would choose to work with a new type of glass coating in their bead work.  The laser is also a recent invention.  Lasers have been perfected for surgery, pointing devices, and of course, for beads. 
Laser cut metal beads are one of my favorite beads.  Again, I can picture a silver smith deciding to use a laser to perfect the cutting of a bead. 

Not only do modern inventions give us new looks, they also give us affordable alternatives. A look that was once reserved for the very wealthy sometimes becomes attainable to the masses.  Precious gemstones rarely, if ever, were cut into beads.  There was too much waste.  But enter cubic zirconias and we can all wear a beaded necklace with the look of a top quality gemstone.  Enter fresh water pearls and we can all wear top luster pearls in a myriad of colors, shapes and designs.  In both of these cases, demand drove science and agriculture to create a low cost method to fill an already existing need.

Still, the mix between science and bead making astounds me, particularly in regards to the cats eye beads.  I can remember the first fiber optics I saw in decorative use. Fiber optic lamps were my introduction to the medium.   Most people have seen a fiber optic Christmas tree. But these two objects just incorporate light playing on  strands of fiber optics. It took someone who was part scientist, part artisan, part visionary to create a fiber optic bead, a new medium and a new look.




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