Friday, June 29, 2012

From high-tech the age-old tradition of bead-making.

Our "Ipad-Cafe." So many people have ipads here (ordered one!)that our group got together to share apps and "how-to-do-this." It was such fun, and the possibilities seem to be infinite. We met at Jane Curtis's house, hooked the ipad up to the TV, and started "school." (The home-made cinnamon rolls were the advertiser that got us all there!)
Five of us took the day to go visit the TK Bead Factory, owned by Florence __________. It took us an hour to get there, over good roads,..and horrible, rutted muddy ones. Our tour began right at the gate, with the mainstay of the product-- collected, cast-off glass bottles.
The glass fragments are pounded (I could hardly lift the metal post used for this)into a very, very fine powder. This material was so pulverized that we could touch it with our fingers without getting cut at all; it just felt soft.
The powder is mixed with whatever color of glass is desired, placed into molds, then lifted into the kiln. They actually use the remains of termite mounds to form the kiln, and from time to time they crack and have to be repaired. The heat was intense, even standing quite a ways from it. On a typically hot day, this kind of work would be highly uncomfortable.
Molds for the beads. They make their own molds out of clay, which can withstand high temperatures. After pouring the glass into the mold, heating it, then letting it cool, they use a sharp stylist-like-thing to rotate the bead making it round in shape. Then they can extract it from its hole.
These beads are "drying" on thin wires; they look more like modernistic bouquets.
This young worker is breaking etched glass into smaller pieces. He should be in school somewhere; but, on the other hand, he does have job security in a family-owned business. ??
Stringing the beads for different jewelry: Today was such a pleasant temperature, but we tried to imagine doing this in the heat of the day, say in November. Sauna.
The store: eye candy for girls.
The table full of beads...
It is the rainy season here, and we noticed that the workers had set out large basins to catch the rainwater.
Isn't she gorgeous? Florence. She has traveled to India, Europe, and other destinations collecting and trading beads/other items. She has built up her TK Bead Factory to the point that it is on recommended lists of places to visit. She is standing in front of her wood-carved door that depicts Christ knocking on the door, waiting for the occupants to open. (She was very concerned that I understand the message on the door...I loved it.)
The most interesting part, (well, for me) Florence,brought out her collection of 19th century beads, and Jennifer bargained to buy two of the necklaces, (and actually had one re-strung.) They were somewhat expensive, but their history is so interesting. Villagers save these old, "family-made" beads and trade them when they absolutely have nothing else to trade for goods. The original designs can no longer be replicated; the bead-makers don't even know how it was done, so today's patterns are a bit different. The beads started in 300 BCE in Alexandria, showed up in Rome around 300 CE, then flourished in Venice in the 15th century. Unfortunately, many of these beads were used in the slave-trading market - each bead(s) representing a human soul.