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.
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!