An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Friday, January 29, 2010

Harequins and Harlequins

It's been ages since I curated an Etsy treasury - my latest one is called Harequin: Happy Harlequins on Etsy. It's full of fun and colour and wonderful work by folks on Etsy. If you have time do pop by and have a look. It will be online for a couple of days.

Historically, the story of the Harlequin character has a rather mixed set of meanings across Europe. The Harlequin has represented evil, sorrow and happiness. The meaning I have drawn on in building this treasury draw on the image of the Harlequin in a typical colourful diamond shaped patterned costume who represents the many sides and richness of life.
I think these Etsy artists evoke this meaning well. See what you think.

For those of you wondering what the word Harequin means: it's not some medieval spelling of Harlequin or another character altogether. It is in fact a typo. In my haste to secure an Etsy treasury I mistyped Harlequin and there is no way to correct it!!!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Earrings, gender and a little history

Prompted by a comment by a friend at lunch recently and some recent sales of earrings at the local market my goal this week is to have 20 pairs of earrings listed for sale in my online Etsy shop. I’ve begun listing and I’m hopeful. I've featured my Sassy Seahorse earrings in my Etsy mini. In the process of choosing which earrings to list on Etsy I’ve been wondering how earrings came to be. Earrings have been found in ancient cultures in the Middle East and Western Asia. It appears that hoop and pendant earrings may have originated in the Middle East around 2500 BC and pierced earrings can be found in ancient Egypt around 1500 BC. The gold earrings in this picture are from Brooklyn Museum collection of ancient hoop earrings. The oldest earrings discovered to date were found in the graves of the Iraqi royal family from this era. It seems that men, particularly soldiers, wore these early earrings.

In ancient Indian cultures men can also be found wearing wonderfully elaborate earrings. In the western world by the 20th Century earrings were no longer seen as the province of men although they did become permissible for women soldiers in the USA to wear. A report in the New Times in 15 Sept 1983 headed, ‘Army Women Prevail On Earrings on Duty', reported that:

"The Army has decided that women in uniform may wear earrings as long as they are not gaudy and ''fit snugly against the ear.''

Since 2500 BC earrings have come in and out of fashion and have been worn by both men and women over that time. For instance, in the 1920s sailors who had survived a shipwreck typically wore a gold hoop to symbolise their adventures at sea.

It’s odd with such a gendered history that earrings in the 21st century are so strongly associated with women. What a fun world it might be if more men took up earrings again. It’s hard to imagine the armies of the world expecting them to wear them as part of their uniform but given the huge range of shapes, colours, materials and sizes that earrings are made from perhaps men should be encouraged to reconsider adding earrings to their wardrobe. They can be fun, fab, dramatic, colourful, weird and wonderful just like their history.


And then it was four treasuries!

Hard to believe that on one day I found my work in four treasuries - thanks to Enchanted beads for including my Lilypond Gold bracelet in her Irresistible! treasury and making it my fourth treasury for the day.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Three Etsy treasuries today

Etsy treasuries are a themed selection of items for sale on Etsy that are handpicked by people who sell on Etsy. For this reason it feels very affirming to be in an Etsy treasury curated by someone else. Today I have pieces in three treasuries - a really lovely way to start the day.
Treasury 1
I Really Love Orange - featured Ziangle (2) - Hot Chilli curated by Little Stone Designs who is a member of the Etsy Beadweaver's Team. Pop by and see her shop.
Treasury 2
A Dusting of Love: A Few of my Favourites from Downunder - featured Sunset Sea Choker curated by HaffinAgain who is a member of the Etsy Downunder Street Team (DUST).
Treasury 3
Geometrika: A Few of My Favourites from LevyMarina - featured Mulberry Zinger bracelet.

Treasuries only last a few days but if you have time do pop by and look at the wonderful work other Etsy sellers do.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

UFOs, hatpins and the politics of women’s rights

If you look hard enough there is very little in life that is not political. However, I was more than a little surprised to learn that my decision to turn some of my UFOs (last blog post) into beaded hatpins has led be to the politics of women’s rights.

Researching creative ways to wear hatpins in the 21st century I found that the early feminists in the 1800s wore hatpins as a symbol of freedom and their demands for equality. Just as the second wave feminists in the 1960s burnt their bra as a symbol of freedom and defiance, so the early feminists ‘burnt’ their bonnet strings and wore hatpins instead to secure their hats and bonnets. Those early feminists also used hatpins as defensive weapons against police violence during demonstrations for women’s right to vote in many countries. For instance, in 1912 73 year-old Emma Miller, a Brisbane (Australia) suffragette, used a hatpin to unhorse the then Queensland Police Commissioner. The feminist symbolic meanings of the hatpin led an English judge in 1908 to order a group of suffragettes to remove their hatpins and hats in his court. Similarly, the use of the hatpin by women as a defensive weapon led the USA the government of Arkansas legislated to restrict the length of hatpins that women could wear in public. If women wore hatpins longer than 9 inches in public they needed a permit.

The New York Times weighed into the debate about women’s hatpins and on Nov 1 1912 in an article titled – Hatpins and Suffrage wrote this:

The evil influence of the warlike women of Great Britain has extended to its antipodean colonies. Dispatches from Sydney, New South Wales, say that sixty militant women of that city have gone to jail rather than pay the moderate fines imposed upon them for wearing murderous weapons in their hats.

Whilst, the idea that women could use hatpins as a deadly weapon may have underpin this legislation and the UK judge’s decision it is clear that for many women, the hatpin was seen as an important defensive weapon against male violence and rape. The cockney song below that I found on the Glitz Queen website is a great example of how the lowly hatpin was seen as an important protection for women walking the streets of London at night and part of the politics of relations between men and women at the time:

My Granny was a very shrewd old lady,
The smartest woman that I ever met.
She used to say, "Now listen to me, Sadie,
There's one thing that you never must forget."

Never go walking out without your hat pin.
The law won't let you carry more than that.
For if you go walking out without your hat pin,

You may lose your head as well as lose your hat."

My Granny said men never could be trusted.
No matter how refined they might appear.
She said that many maidens' hearts got busted
Because men never had but one idea.

I've heard that Grandpa really was a mess,
So Grandma knew whereof she spoke, I guess.

Never go walking out without your hat pin.
Not even to some very classy joints.
For when a fellow sees you've got a hat pin
He's very much more apt to get the point.

My Mama, too, set quite a bad example.
She never heeded Grandmama's advice.
She found that if you give a man a sample,
The sample somehow never does suffice.

In fact, it's rumored I might not have been
If Mum had not gone out without her pin.

Never go walking out without your hat pin.
It's about the best protection you have got.
For if you go walking out without your hat pin,

You may come home without your you-know-what!

So, now I look at the beaded hatpins I intend to make in quite a different way. Not only am I finishing some UFO’s but I am creating a political symbol that celebrates women’s struggles to vote and to be free from violence. What a great source of inspiration for getting on with those UFOs and creating some hatpins that the early feminists would love to wear. I know that means I'll need to create lots of purple and green hatpins (more on why in my next blog).

So with the early feminists in mind here are 9 ways to be creative in current times with a hatpin.

Wear them
1. Be traditional, wear a hatpin in a hat to hold it in place, personalise and/or decorate it.
2. Use shorter hatpins in your lapel as a brooch – wear several for a contemporary statement.
3. Use a hatpin to secure and/or decorate a scarf.
4. Secure a shawl with a hatpin.

Celebrate their symbolism
5. Display hatpins in a special hatpin holder.
6. Use hatpins in a pot plant as a decorative twist
7. Create a hatpin bouquet - collect several and display them in a lovely vase.
8. Pop hatpins at the side of your mirror just to enjoy them and remember their history.
9. Make a women’s rights display with hatpins centre stage.

I'd love to hear about any other ideas you have.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

From UFO to FFO - dealing with UFO’s hovering in your beading stash

My New’s Year’s beading resolution is finish all those disconcerting and guilt rendering Un-Finished Objects (UFOs) hovering in the ‘I must do that zone’ around my home. At current count there are about ten UFO’s hovering in that zone in my home. Several of these UFOs just need a few more beads of a specific colour to turn them into a Fabulous Finished Objects (FFOs) and a good shopping list that I remember to take to the beadshop is all that is needed. But, it’s the serious long time UFOs that are in danger of becoming eternal UFOs. I really don’t know how to finish them and/ or I feel uninspired about doing what is needed to finish them. That’s how I felt about a little beaded button brooch I created from weaving around a ceramic handmade button. It became a UFO a couple of months ago after a fatal drop from a height smashed several beads. The thought of painstakingly repairing it was not nearly as exciting as starting a new project. However, I took some advice from a Facebook beading friend who said to always do one UFO before you start your next new project. With my 2010 beading resolution still fresh I decided to just do it. Do one UFO before starting my new project. 20 minutes later only 9 UFOs now live in my bead stash. (See the finished brooch in the photo) Some beaders suggest dedicating a few minutes a day to UFOs, others suggest a few hours week. I guess it depends on how many UFOs are hovering in the bead stash and why. However, it was in the world of quilting I found a wealth of inspiration for morphing UFOs into FFOs. Quilters have a whole website devoted to UFOs (the UFOphanage - This is a great site for anyone with UFOs – beading or otherwise in their life. Ideas included trading UFOs with others and having a UFO retreat. However, amongst all the handy hints it offers there is one clear UFO message – there is no substitute for just doing it – deciding now’s the time to turn a UFO into a FFO.

How do you keep your UFO under control?

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op