The Challenge of Travel – blog hop reveal!


I so enjoyed this blog hop challenge! We were instructed to choose a part of the world other than where we live and then create something inspired by it. I chose Africa, because for years I’ve been fascinated by tribal jewelry and love to collect African trade beads. Here’s a picture of part of my collection-

Those beads in the center of the tray are kiffa beads, and they’re the reason why I specifically chose Mauritania as the African country I felt inspired by.

Mauritania is an interesting land of contrasts on the Western coast of Africa, and is bordered by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara Desert. The northern part of the country is inhabited by nomadic Arab and Berber tribes, and by black African people in the southern portion.

Making kiffa beads

African women make the colorful kiffa beads by hand, using traditional methods and very simple ingredients – ground glass, gum arabic –  sometimes even saliva! The beads are made in pans over an open fire. Modern kiffa beads look much the same as ones made long ago. I think they’re so beautiful!

I have a handful of kiffa beads that I’ve been hanging onto for a number of years, and I used them in three separate jewelry pieces for this challenge.  First is this pair of earrings made with hammered brass hoops, batiked bone beads and a couple of small kiffas-

Next is a bracelet with beads that remind me of Morrocan silver,  a large copal amber bead and small kiffas.

The final piece is a necklace made with antiqued brass, czech glass and more kiffa beads, including my favorite – a triangular focal.

Thanks so much for joining me on my little tour of Mauritania – I hope you enjoyed it!

Be sure to visit all the other countries and artists on this wonderful trip around the world!

Monique Urquhart Africa Burkina Faso
Niky Sayers Africa Egypt
Therese Frank Africa Kenya
Raychelle Heath Africa Lesotho
Joan Williams Africa Mauritania
Sherri Stokey Africa Senegal
Regina Santerre Africa Seychelles
Raida Disbrow Africa Tanzania
Kristi Wodek Africa Zimbabwe
Sally Russick Americas Brazil
Melissa Trudinger Americas Mexico
Tracy Stillman Americas USA
Sandra Wolberg Asia India
Tanya Goodwin Asia Japan
Susan Kennedy Asia Japan
Beth Emery Asia Japan
Lisa Cone Asia Japan
Tanya Boden Asia Japan
Inge von Roos Asia Laos
Erin Prais-Hintz Asia Nepal
Dee Elgie Asia Phillipines
Carolyn Lawson Asia South Korea
Lisa Stukel Asia Sri Lanka
Elly Snare Asia Thailand
Shelley Graham Turner Europe Austria
Mallory Hoffman Europe Bosnia Herzegovina
Paige Maxim Europe France
Jenny Davies-Reazor Europe Germany
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson Europe Greece
Evelyn Shelby Europe Iceland
Holly Westfall Europe Ireland
Rebecca Siervaag Europe Ireland
Toltec Jewels Europe Ireland
Lee Koopman Europe Ireland
Laren Dee Barton Europe Italy
Cindy Wilson Europe Norway
Kathleen Lange Klik Europe Poland
Shaiha Williams Europe Portugal
Jennifer Justman Europe Romania
Elsie Deliz-Fonseca Europe Spain
Lola Surwillo Europe Sweden
Kim Hora Europe Switzerland
Leanne Loftus Europe The Netherlands
Patti Vanderbloemen Europe The Netherlands
Marcie Carroll Europe Turkey
Marlene Cupo Oceania Federated States of Micronesia
Ine Vande Cappelle Oceania Fiji
Tammie Everly Oceania Guam
Alice Peterson Oceania Kiribati
Elisabeth Auld Oceania Nauru
Susan McClelland Oceania New Zealand
D Lynne Bowland Oceania New Zealand
Denielle Hagerman Oceania New Zeland
Rebecca Anderson Oceania Papua New Guinea
Mischelle Fanucchi Oceania Samoa
Kari Asbury Oceania Solomon Islands
Cece Cormier Oceania Tonga
Emma Todd Oceania Tuvalu
Debbie Price Oceania Vanuatu

29 responses »

  1. What a treat to have beads made by your Country of Choice! I would never have thought the beads were made in this fashion – how painstaking! But, that makes them even more special! I love the bracelet – the toggle is a great size for those beads! All of the colors are gorgeous. But, my favorite piece is the earrings! They are perfect with the hammered hoops! Thanks for sharing!

  2. How lovely! I think that all your pieces capture the spirit and liveliness of your chosen country. I especially love knowing how those beads are made. What a great process! And so personal… you know that an artist made each one by hand! Those earrings are fab, and I would love to wear them. And tribal jewelry is very hot right now! Thank you so much for participating in this challenge! I think that I need to go and get a passport! Enjoy the day. Erin

  3. OK so now I need to go read more on Kiffa beads. Glass and spit?! An open fire? Amazing. I like your necklace – but full stop! Your bracelet is a stunner! Perfect contrast b/w the large solid copal amber and the color and texture of the beads! Wow! And the earring rock too, just saying…

  4. Those kiffa beads are beautiful. I can’t wait to get my hands on some. 🙂 Your earrings are just gorgeous, as is your bracelet. That necklace just makes me swoon. I love the brass mixed in and the pendant you chose.

  5. Interesting post and lovely pieces. Thanks for sharing about the Kiffa beads. Your work in this challenge certainly has a rustic old world feel. Nice job.

  6. The kiffa beads are lovely. I think it would be hard to part with them. Your pieces are beautiful, and represent Mauritania so well. And I love that copal amber bead.

  7. Joan, thank you so much for sharing this view of the beautiful people of Mauritania, and the time-honoured tradition of producing these unique beads. Your creations are truly inspired by the colourful costumes. I very much hope to visit Africa some day and see Mauritania with my own eyes!

  8. Thank you for taking me on your trip to Mauritania I enjoyed learning about the people and culture. It was fascinating to learn about how the kiffa beads are made. I love your earrings, bracelet, and necklace they are all very beautiful and a well representation of Mauritania.

  9. Wow! So interesting to learn about the Kiffa beads. Want to learn more! All of your pieces are beautiful. Especially love your earrings.

  10. Beautiful! How wonderful to hear of these beads, I don’t believe I’ve come across them before. Your pieces have a direct connection to their inspiration and the hands that made them there which gives them an exrta beauty. Great work!

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