An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Durability of construction – could my beadwork last longer than me?

6000 year old beadweaving (South Africa) with ostrich shell beads

Durability is on my mind this week as my lower back failed the durability test when I rather enthusiastically took to weeding our very weedy vegetable patch on Monday. It proved incapable of withstanding the wear and tear of my weeding efforts and a trip to the Physio confirmed that my back was probably less durable than my current beadwork!

With this in mind it seemed opportune this week to focus my series of blog muses on bead competition on the criteria of 'durability in construction'.

1200 year old glass bead
Put simply, durable beadwork lasts a long time even. And beads and beadwork can be very durable. For instance, archaeologists have found handmade glass beads that are now thousands of years old and still intact and I was luck enough to see 6000 old beadweaving still intact on a visit to the South African museum in Cape Town this time last year.  So, how do you make your beadwork last 6000 years?

Again, its simple.  For beadwork to outlast its maker beadwork needs not only to be well-made technically (see my last post on this - but it also needs to be made from durable components that are resistant to moisture, microbes, light, heat, cold and impact (e.g. being pulled, dropped or dropped on). That may seem quite an ask but here are some questions I've put together so that you can use to test the durability of your components. Perhaps I need a similiar list for my next visit to the Physio on Monday!

You might also find a previous posts on durability issues in seed bead finishes worth popping by and reading (

As always, I'd welcome thoughts and suggestions you have. Now, back to my back exercises so its durability can improve!

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