Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wedding Cake Venetian Beads, 1880-1920

These are called wedding cake beads.  They are Venetian lamp-wound floral decorated beads from about 1880-1920.  While so many Venetian beads were made for the African trade, these were primarily made for English and American ladies.

Glass beads are either wound or drawn.  Winding is the oldest method; hot glass is wound around a shaft of some kind.  Furnace-winding is done by thrusting a rod into hot glass which is inside the furnace.  The bead is formed in the furnace and then finished outside.  Lamp-winding begins with semi-finished glass canes.  The worker has a fire source in front of him and works the cane from its rod by winding it onto a wire.  He uses a paddle to further shape it.  The artist can continue to decorate the bead by adding glass in a swirling, or combed or feather design  These beads were never painted.

This necklace is 38 inches long.  I found a short necklace, 18 inches, in a junk market in a suburb of Lima, Peru in the mid 90's.  They were lovely so I purchased them for a good price.  Then, ten years later, I spotted a necklace on ebay featuring the same beads.  This time the price wasn't quite as good, but I obtained them in order to make the long piece in the picture.  While the necklace comprises beads purchased on two continents ten years apart, it is not as astonishing as it seems. The Venetians marketed their beads on cards, as if they were buttons, and they went out all over the western world.  Being as beautiful as they are, and immortalized by John Ruskin in his essay," The Beads of Venice" it makes sense that they would be retrievable by the persistent collector.

No comments: