Last month I spent a week in Essaouira on the southernish shore of Morocco. I went for the purposes of respite from the bulk of my kids (just took the 10 and 12 year old boys), to do some annual household shopping and especially to do some business related shopping, meaning beads! Essaouira is a great little town with lots of yummy places to eat and loads of traditional, artisanal boutiques. We stayed in a quiet little spot in the medina, only leaving it for a couple of brief trips to the beach and the grocery store, which had a really disappointing tea selection, but we thoroughly enjoyed their little bakery and cheese selection.
I hit up several jewelry shops finding a great selection of old and newer Moroccan silver beads, including some lovely inlay Tuareg beads and cute casted reproductions of old Amazigh (Berber) and Yemeni sterling charms, along with some of the ‘real deals’. I also found some very old and heavy silver beads from the Sahara which my oldest daughter was immediately drawn to and I have decided to keep in the family. Actually, I am meaning to make myself a necklace commemorating/celebrating TWELVE YEARS of breastfeeding my six babies and will likely use those in it.
But my best finds came from a silversmith who let me dig through several buckets he had of old and sometimes broken bits and pieces. I got bits of necklaces, head dresses, earrings and even an old filigree bracelet. I’m hoping to make some assemblage necklaces with the findings like this one I have made for my mom, who I am pretty sure doesn’t read my blog. Mom, are you out there?
The pendant is the top portion of an old Moroccan coin and glass earring- real glass, not the commonly found plastic ones which are still pretty. I added the crystal briolettes and reshaped the earwire into a bale-loop (I couldn’t bring myself to trim it at all). Also from the trip are the old cloisonné beads at the sides. Not sure if they are Moroccan-made or rolled their way to here from some other starting point. My mom had some lovely cloisonné pieces when I was a kid and so I always think of her when I see some. I snagged these with her in mind.
The chain is partially some chain mom had given me a way too long for me necklace of, so I hacked some up to work into this and added my favorite textured slightly oxidized chain there at the bottom center. The faux-second/shorter strand is some tiny rolo and more of the handwrapped red and some blue crystals that I also used on the other strand. I love how the Karen Hill Tribe Thai ‘wrap’ or ‘swirl’ beads nearly blend in where they connect the two chains together- and they also blend into that one cloisonné that has huge openings.
My mom is a bit of a sneak who likes to dress up a solid colored t-shirt with some fancy adornment, like a silk hand-painted scarf, to wear to work on non-casual days- and she totally gets away with it! I am sure this piece will be another to distract people from realizing that she is wearing her Hanes For Women in the office 😉
These are a couple of the other pieces I am currently playing around with. I haven’t found out anything about how old or where that sweet turquoise inlay/cloisonné-ish comes from, but the other is a traditional Serrouchen or Haddidhu neillo work piece usually worked into really elaborate necklaces or headdress pieces. I have a few other pieces from the trip already worked into necklaces and bracelets in my Etsy Brookolie shop as well as a collection of vintage Amazigh/Moroccan rings I will be adding to this week.
Adorn and make on!