Porcelain Beads, Fire Polish Beads, Shell Beads, Furnace Wound Beads, Cloisonne Beads, Sea Glass Beads, Lampwork Beads, Lampwork Beading Styles, Polymer Clay Beads, Boro (Pyrex) Beads, Faberge Eggs
Clay / Ceramic Beads
Clay beads go back centuries, to at least 1000 BC. I can just imagine the Indians standing on the banks of the Ganghes River scooping up the clay. Clay was abundant and was the province of the poor. While the wealthy Europeans of the late Roman Empire wore precious stones and metals, the migratory tribes people adorned themselves with clay. Clay beads were produced simultaneously all over the world, including in the Phillippines, Thailand and Peru. To this day, Peru, China, Thailand, Greece and India produce a great many ceramic beads.
Traditionally, clay beads have been used in Muslim prayer strands and Thai amulets as well as in jewelry. When they were introduced into the United States by the first European settlers, the clay beads were very popular with the Native Americans. Clay beads have large holes that could accommodate leather thongs so they were used as decoration on horse reins. Some nations so prize their clay bead heritage that they protect the simple bead from export. For example, Guatemala has restricted the export of their Mayan ceramic beads.
Ceramic bead use continues through more current times. While they have since been replaced by plastic beads, ceramic beads were the New Orleans Mardi Gras beads of the 1920s. Ceramic beads again become popular in the 'hippie days' of the 60s and 70s when people wanted an earthy feel to their beads. At that time, many American artists produced beads made of ceramic.
Ceramic beads are still widely used today for hair decoration, hemp jewelry, clothing fringe, prayer beads and talismans.
Ceramic beads come in a variety of shapes, from the very basic solid colored Indian pony and solid colored Greek disk, to the ornately hand painted and animal shaped beads of Peru. Many of the popular alphabet beads used in Mother's bracelets are made of ceramic. Some clay beads are glazed, others are not.
The History of Beads from 30,000 BC
to The Present, Lois Sherr Dubin.
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