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Brief Summary of Bead Expo '98

Robin Atkins -- Living Traditions of Hungarian Beadwork.

 Atkins wowed the audience by showing the rich traditional beadwork used in some villages of Hungary and Transylvania (a region with many ethnic Hungarians in Romania). Most impressive were the beaded costumes of Kalotaszeg, Hungary. Men, women and children have beaded costumes, usually only worn on Sunday and special days. The women each have at least ten such costumes, kept in a special room known as the "pretty room." The broadcollars of Sárköz. Transylvania and the contemporary beadwork of Anna Fehér were also covered.

Pete Francis -- The Beads in Beadwork. This was a summary of the "Seed Bead Project," designed to learn more about the beads used in beadwork. It began with a brief explanation of how seed beads are made in the Czech Republic. The rest of the talk covered the various cuts, surface treatments, glasses and lining treatments of seed beads, discussing the origins of the names used for them and the dates of their introduction. The term "seed bead," for example, dates back at least to 1803 and was apparently derived from "seed pearl," in use since 1554.

Valerie Hector -- Invoking the Aso': Dayak Beadwork of Borneo. Hector concentrated on the beaded panels put on baby carriers, used by many indigenous people of Borneo. The panels are amuletic, designed to ward off evil from the baby. The designs, nearly all bilaterally symmetrical, are made by men, while women do the beading. After a child grows out of the carrier, the panels are removed and kept as heirlooms and documents of childhood, sometimes being displayed in the houses.

Arthur Amiotte -- The Iconography and Techniques of Northern Plains Beadwork. Amiotte presented an overview of beadwork among the Northern Plains tribes from about 1865 to 1930. He focused on representative figurative images that reflected sanctioned symbolic meanings and how these changed in style and form during the adaptation to reservation life. Most impressive were the examples of his own work, much of it large beadwork "paintings" using traditional themes expressed in his own contemporary style.

Joyce Herold -- Beadwork Styles of the Southern Plains. Herold discussed the evolution of beadwork among the Southern Plains tribes. The use of paint and other forms of decoration influenced the development of strong beadwork cultures in different regions. The interaction between tribes also allowed for the borrowing of styles between them. Contemporary beadwork continues to evolve through the mechanisms of the pow-wows and other art influences.

Peter Furst -- Visions of the Sacred: Beadwork of the Huichol Indians. Furst emphasized the development of Huichol beadwork from the metaphysical and cultural values of the Huichols worldview. Divine and other symbolic representations were transferred to beadwork as glass seed beads became available. Many of these were associated with the use of peyote, central to Huichol culture. The intrusion of the money economy has also influenced beadwork, but the ancient symbolism still asserts itself.

Nancy Eha -- Bead Visionaries: Expressive Beadwork Artists. Eha described and illustrated the word of six contemporary beadwork artists. In addition to presenting the diversity of techniques, styles, subject matters and creative visions of these artists, she also told us about their lives, sacrifices and struggles, culminating in their joy of creation.

Olabayo Olaniyi -- Yoruba Beadwork: Traditional and Secular. Olaniyi charmed the audience with his personal vision of the role of beadwork in the culture of the Yoruba of Nigeria. The use of cowry shells was largely replaced by glass seed beads, but the traditional role of beadwork remains an important element in the living customs of the people. Male specialists who combine ancient symbolism and newer artistic influences do the beadwork for the kings.

Alice Scherer: Standardizing the Terms of Beadwork Techniques. Scherer presented an overview of the literature of beadwork, emphasizing the confusion that exists among authors as to the names of stitches or techniques. The same term has been used for different techniques and new terms have been introduced for techniques given other names earlier. She offered some hints for identifying various stitches. The discussion that followed agreed with the need for standardization but emphasized the difficulty of reaching it in the near future.

The What's New in Bead Research Session on Saturday Afternoon

Karlis Karklins -- Some Bead Research Dos and Don'ts.

 The DOs: Do become familiar with your subject matter. Do take archaeology and ethnography courses. Do be careful when interpreting bead material. Do consult the experts. Do use a microscope. Do include good color illustrations in reports. Do join the Society of Bead Researchers. The DON'Ts: Don't believe everything you read or hear. Don't ask questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no." Don't buy archaeological specimens.

Margret Carey -- Always Something New Out of Africa. Research on several beaded objects encountered in museum collections; some were indeed of African origin; one a puzzle filed in hope of an answer turning up. (summary by Margret Carey)

Jeffrey Mitchem -- Spanish Beads and Pendants from the Cemetery at Mission San Luis, Florida. The beads and pendants, some of them unique from this early Spanish mission, were discussed, as was the reconstruction of the Mission on historic principals.

Alice Scherer -- Beaded Trim of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. A "show and tell" session in which Scherer passed around old photos showing the use of beaded trim and actual examples of beaded trim.

Jamey D. Allen -- Notes on 16th-Century Venetian Millefiori Beads. Unlike 20th century millefiories, these are round beads with scattered mosaic pieces, similar to contemporary glass vessels. A question was raised about the 16th century ascription, as none of the pieces shown could be securely dated; some may have been 17th century in age.

Alessia Bonannini -- Venetian Bead Production during the First Half of the 19th Century. The initial results of Bonannin's research into the archives of Venice proved frustrating, but also provided new information on this major beadmaking center. Her work has just begun and soon we will know much more about Venetian beadmaking.

Torben Sode -- Viking Beads. An introduction to glass beadmaking in Viking-period Ribe, Denmark. The beadmaking techniques were illuminated with contemporary examples of beadmaking by traditional means in Turkey and Indian centers.

Pete Francis -- Glass Bead Analyses -- A Critique. A brief look at the uses and rationales of glass bead analyses programs. The analyses of Indo-Pacific beads done by Ron Hancock of the University of Toronto was cited as an example of how even a limited program can answer important questions. In this case, that Indo-Pacific glass was not imported from the West and at least the early beadmaking sites each made their own glass.

And there was lots more. Each presenter also gave a focus session in the afternoons delving into his or her topics in more details.

There was a meeting of the Bead Societies, the Society of Bead Researchers and a session on Beads on the Web. And there were lots of beads, lots of dealers and lots of bead friends.

Don't miss BEAD EXPO 2000.


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