|Bead History - Ancient Artform|
|Beads have been made of glass for over 5,000 years. The discovery of fire was the essential step in glass bead making. Egyptians used a method known as "core-forming" where they used a metal mandrel with pieces of glass held over a flame. Gradually as the glass soften, they would wrap it around the mandrel forming intricate ornaments. These early beads, or vessels were considered valuable and were preserved as they were placed in burial tombs. Even today, we make beads by holding glass rods over a flame then gently winding the molten glass over the mandrels. Beadmaking is truly an ancient artform.|
Venezia circa 1933 (From Perle & Impiraperle)
|Beadmaking in Venice|
|The history of beadmaking in Venice goes back to the days of Marco Polo when he returned from his travels with the beads of Asia. Local artisians took to their glass making skills to reproduce in glass the precious stones of Marco Polo.
In Venice and Murano, the beading industry has historically been a woman's work. In the picture above you see the women working while caring for their children. During the 1920s - 1930s, the conterie (seed bead) industry sustained Venice's glass industry. The wars took the men from the furnaces and between World War I and World War II there was little time to build up the industry. During the 1930s there were as many as 30 companies making the tiny beads, employing hundreds of women.
|References on Beadmaking History|
The History of Beads by Lois Sherr Dubin
Collective Beads by Robert K. Liu ISBN 0-9641023-0-7
Perle Veneziane by Consorzio Venezia Perle (1989)
The Book of Beads by Janet Coles, Robert Budwig(Contributor)
The Complete Bead Resource Book by Patricia Abahusay
The History of Lampworking by Robert A. Mickelsen
Coles, J. and R. Budwig. 1990. The Book of Beads. New York: Simon and Schuster