Friday, October 30, 2009

Beachcombing the Indian Ocean

Are you guys getting sick of hearing about my travels this summer? ;)
Too bad, 'cause here we go again!
While on the coast in Kenya, I went out to the beach with a bag to do a little collecting. NOTHING live, of course! I only collect empty shells that have washed up onto the beach. Well, this one type of shell caught my attention. The shell is some sort of spiral, and most pieces you find on the beach have broken in such a way that you have a small cupped shape with a bridge from one side to another, creating a large hole. Of course, everything with a hole can become a bead, so I collected several of these.
It just so happened that, a couple months after returning, it was announced that the November challenge theme for the Beadweaving Emporium on 1000 Markets is "Beachcombing Memories."
What a perfect use for these shells! I found a mix of beads to match the colors in the speckled shells, created 14 lengths of tubular peyote, and added a shell to the base of each. I used some wooden beads from South Africa to connect each tube to the small length of tubular herringbone.
Two lengths of faux suede cord are strung through the tubular peyote, and tied off with two sliding knots to make the necklace fully adjustable.

AND I finally received my display bust in the mail yesterday, just in time to photograph my entry! I'm pleased, but I do need to find another background to photograph in front of... My go-to white cloth wrinkles too easily, and I can't see myself ironing it every time I need to do a photoshoot. Maybe a large piece of white paper would help... Any suggestions?

Check out the Beadweaving Emporium blog from November 9th - 15th to vote for your favorite entry!

You can find my "Beachcombing the Indian Ocean" in my 1000 Markets store.

Monday, October 19, 2009


While in Kenya this summer, I was inspired by kangas, a cloth used for anything and everything in many parts of East Africa. Kangas are all comprised of a border and an inner section with different patters, and a Swahili phrase at the bottom of the inner section. Apart from the basic structure, kangas vary widely in colors and patterns. Their uses are multiple, from clothing to baby slings to tablecloths, and more.
photo borrow from

In this picture, I'm wearing a kanga for a skirt.

So far, I've designed two bracelets based on the basic structure of kangas - minus the Swahili phrase. I haven't yet figured out a way to write something in one row of beads. ;)
If you like, you can imagine this says "Haraka, haraka, haina baraka." - one of my favorite Swahili proverbs, which roughly translates into "hurrying brings no blessings." (haraka: hurry, baraka: blessing, haina: there is no)

This one I've kept for myself. I miscounted the squares while working up the pattern, and I ended up with an odd number of beads for the width. Since I was planning to work in herringbone, this was slightly problematic. I did find a work-around that makes it look more like square stitch than herringbone, but there's a number of places in the red section where you can see some of the crystal fireline showing through. Okay, so it's not terrible, but I had to have some excuse to keep it, right?

I've finally gotten the beads to work up the second kanga pattern I created, so once I have a little time, I'll work on that next project!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Power Goblet

It's been a while (think May) since I last submitted a piece to the Etsy Beadweaver's monthly challenge. What with travelling and inconsistent internet access, it just didn't happen this summer.

When this month's challenge rolled around, though, I decided it was time to enter again. The October theme is "Super Powers" and I decided to bead around a goblet to make it worthy for any superhero.

Here's a snippet from my item description:
"A white streak splits through a background of purple fading to blue and then green. The streak is lined with a bold red, and this all comes together to create a POWER GOBLET. You want super powers? Then drink from THIS goblet. Okay, okay, I know it's all make-believe (and I do not recommend using the goblet for beverages), but if I were a superhero, I would darn better have a goblet like this one! And you can feel like a superhero with this goblet on display, possibly even as a candleholder."

Voting is open for the October challenge, and we'd love to have you help choose a winner! Head on over to to vote for your favorite by the 16th.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I've mentioned my trip to Kenya several times on this blog (mostly before the trip!), so I thought you all might like to see a few pictures of my trip back home - and my husband's first time to see it.

This is the boarding school where I attended from grades 6 - 12, in the highlands on the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley.
We took a game drive in Lake Nakuru game park. The lake is full of flamingos. Here, a hyena has been hunting them (hyena's do a lot more hunting than they're given credit for).

There were one or two places we were able to get out of the tour van. Not sure what I'm pointing out in this picture...

We pretty much got around by public transportation - matatus, to be precise. They're these 14 or so passenger mini vans (actually regulated these days!), and get you anywhere you want to go. In southern Kenya, at least, where the roads are good. Above is a matatu stand in one of the towns we went through.

Stephen was surprised when the turn-boy (driver's assistant who collects money and finds passengers) jumped into the already moving van, slid the door shut, and nearly sat on his lap. Personal space isn't nearly as important as it is in the US.

Yup, we crossed the equator! The matatu didn't stop, so we had to take a drive-by picture.

Yes, I got some beading in there too! This is on the farm my family lived on from the time I was in 6th grade on.

Joseph, the project manager, gave us a tour of the farm, pointing out all sorts of improvements and changes since my family left. That place is taking off! You can see a new storehouse for feed being built behind us.

The Kerio River, 5 km from the farm. It flows northward into Lake Turkana.

The mud was slippery... I was trying to wash Stephen's flipflop off after his foot had sunk it, and ended up sitting in the mud! Whoops.

We also spent a couple days down at the coast. There's the Indian Ocean!

We went out onto the reef at low tide one morning. Snorkels, tennis shoes (to ward off the sea urchins) and all. Good times.

Ft. Jesus, and old Portuguese fort in the town of Mombasa on the Indian ocean.

Then we headed up to northern Kenya. Here's the town of Logologo that I lived in for about 7 years as a kid.

This is the inside of a Rendille hut where we took a nap during our visit to Logologo. Note the beaded bracelet and necklace that a friend there gave me!

Amina, a good family friend, made the dress for me.

Many of the folks who live in Northern Kenya live off of their animals, mainly camels. We don't have too many pictures of people up north (other than friends) because they don't like having their pictures taken and we were trying to be respectful.

On our way back, we flew over Marsabit game park on Marsabit mountain in Marsabit district, before we stopped in Marsabit town to pick up a passenger. You can see the lodge in the park in the upper left of the picture, next to what used to be a very full lake when I was little. The drought in Northern Kenya has been very bad for the past several years.

This is what we got a ride on from Northern Kenya back to Nairobi - a 6 seater cessna. I ended up in the co-pilot seat, because the pilot thought I was short enough that my knees wouldn't bump the controls. :D

It was a great trip! Hope you enjoyed the pictures. :) Maybe at some point I'll pull out a picture or two from our stop in Spain on the way back to the US.