As beaders, we know a thing or two about collecting precious baubles. Even though we often use our collections to make things and then give them away, we still hoard our favorites, organize them obsessively, and hope for new additions on every birthday and holiday. Lately, I’ve been letting my bead collection get a little light, as I search high and low for special new beads, and colors that fit into classic Egyptian palettes.
Exploring new ideas for Egyptian inspired jewelry has been my favorite beading challenge to date, and I have pages of notes and sketches left to try in the coming weeks. I can’t wait to show you this week’s bracelet, which was inspired by the gold and blue striped Nemes crown.
In the meantime, I want to share the source of some of my inspiration - my huge collection of Egyptian imports and artwork. Today I’m taking part in the Cherished Collections blog tour, hosted by one of my favorite blogs, Elegant Musings. There are lots of fantastic vintage, style, and handmade blogs participating this week, with a fantastic variety of collections to share. Please do check it out - you won’t be disappointed.
I tried to capture just a few of my favorite and most interesting Egyptian pieces. Many of them are handmade (not necessarily by me), and many are imported from Egypt, though they are modern made trinkets. Although I love the traditional and authentic look, I also enjoy even the most kitschy recreations, particularly those that resemble the designs of the Egyptian Revival fad of the 1920’s. If I see something Egyptian looking, and the price is right, I’ll usually scoop it up. Everything from cheesy Pharaoh fridge magnets to cobalt blue glassware catches my eye.
One of my favorite things to collect is boxes. Since most of what we know about Ancient Egypt comes from tombs, and these were usually filled as if the deceased were going on a long vacation, containers and boxes are quite common in history and treasure books about Egypt. And since you can get little wooden boxes of every shape for about a dollar and paint them, I have oodles. Though I can do some pretty cool things with acrylics, I wouldn’t call any of my own boxes favorites. It’s these two that take the prize. One of my favorite images of Ancient Egypt is the profile Anubis in jackal form, and I love this upcylced, hand painted box above most others.
The smaller box is an Egyptian import, with gorgeous mother of pearl inlay, and a velvet lining. I use it to store miscellaneous trinkets, including the only gemstones I will ever own. Among them are a lapis lazuli donut, and a turquoise or magnesite ankh. This little ‘treasure box’ was inspired by my grandmother’s bauble collection. I spent so many magical hours exploring her assorted scraps and trinkets, that I made a point of arranging all of mine in this box. It has been a great source of entertainment for younger kids in my family for a few years now.
Naturally, a large portion of my handmade collection is based in beads. Long before I discovered bead weaving, I spent a great deal of time creating beaded curtains or tapestries with seed beads, plus acrylic and lucite beads that I carefully collected for their color and ancient appeal. This one is by far my favorite - a desert landscape in strung beads.
I also dabbled a bit in bead embroidery, which is a much more efficient and rewarding way to recreate images that you love in beads. My first piece was this portrait of one of the miniature coffins that held Tutankhamun’s internal organs for burial. Once filled with the precious organs, these were placed inside canopic jars and sealed in a special alabaster chest.
Statuettes, figurines and trinkets are some of the easiest Egyptian decorations to make or buy, and I have quite a few scattered around my various bookshelves and surfaces around the house. Some are very authentic looking, like the carved statues of Bastet, and the tiny gilt pyramid - all imported. Then there’s the little bust that I purchased at a dollar store. It’s worthless, but loveable.
I have a handful of tiny wooden books and vessels that I painted in traditional colors, with a sprinkling of hieroglyphs. I keep them hidden away in my own little collection of canopic jars, made from upcycled drink mix tins.
I like to pick up things that just barely fit into the collection, like the stone pyramid that I purchased about a million years ago at a liquidation sale. The quartz crystal with pyramid shaped striations was a gift from a friend who was interested in alternative healing. The paua shell egg was another gift, and though it’s not Egyptian at all, it looks right at home.
After carefully looking through each of the tiny personal artifacts in the ‘treasure box’ my son and I spend a little time going through the ‘beetle bowl’. This is one of my favorite things in the whole collection, although it’s actually many small things - these pieces have been grouped together for as long as I’ve had them.
The bowl was a gift, handmade by the giver, and is covered with beautiful blue pottery glazes. Inside are piles of scarabs. There’s a carved bone scarab from Egypt, a genuine dung beetle encased in resin, and a little faience scarab bead. These rest atop a pile of scarabs of many shapes and sizes that I sculpted from salt dough and painted with classic colors.
My most recent addition also came from the need to paint things in black and gold. Earlier this year I got tired of how old and dinged up my dresser was looking. It was left to me by an old roommate and I can’t bear to part with it, simply because the drawers are huge and I’ll never find another like it. So I got out the paints and the masking tape, and copied the pattern of one of my bracelet designs to give the whole thing a makeover.
Last but not least - the jewelry. Most of these designs are not obviously Egyptian inspired, with the exception of the gold St. Petersburg chain collar. It has all the right colors, and of course the strands of striped beads make the theme easy to recognize. I only wish I could wear it more often.
The bangles were a fabulous thrift store find from many years ago, when I went as Nefertiti for Halloween. There were also several black wood and silver bracelets which have been lost along the way, and a pair of handmade earrings to match the blue pendant.
I promise that my apartment doesn’t look like a museum, but there are a few corners that have an ancient vibe, especially when I neglect the dusting. I wish I could show you everything there is to see. I left out so many things, like history and travel books, papyrus paintings and the wonderful tastes and scents of Egypt. Since I can’t live in a clay house with date palms and pomegranate trees in the yard, and a pet snake to keep away the pests, at least I can try to bring home a little Nile life here and there. Since making tiger nut sweets, I’ve become a little obsessed with eating dates, though I prefer to eat them whole with cubes of salty mozzarella cheese.
Thank you so much for taking this little tour with me! I hope you’ll visit some of the other collections in the challenge as well.
And tell me, what do you like to collect?
Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and soapstar
Photo Collage by BigHugeLabs.com
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