Thinking small: beads

Some days, when the socio-political world is too hard to take, I turn to nature. But when there are no flowers, no glorious moonsets, no stormy winds, I retreat into the miniature world of beads. Today, I set up the lightbox under the camera and picked out three kinds of translucent beads to look at.

Banded carnelian

The bead above and the ones up top are agates because they are banded and carnelians because they are red-orange. This particular kind of stone was mined in Brazil and cut in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. It was then traded in west Africa during the 19th century.

Burmite amber

Next is a bead from a traditional necklace worn by women of the Mizo hilltribe in the far northeast of India. It’s made from burmite amber, collected in nearby Burma and prized for its reddish-brown color and mottled appearance, as well as for its miraculous healing properties.

Ancient glass

Finally, glass. The glass in this strand of excavated beads is crude and full of bubbles. My note says they are from Java, but maybe they were trade beads made in China. Hard to say much more about them, except that old green glass is my weakness.

Ancient glass

Look at me — running away from the world, but surrounded by my wandering beads. Hmm, maybe they are sheltering here with me, enough of bazaars and boutiques.

Tech note: It’d be too easy for me to snap a bead photo with my smartphone. I have an old DLSR on a tripod with a horizontal arm. I can tether the camera to my laptop via USB and get a live view, revealing a small thing blown up across my screen and allowing me to fiddle with focus, etc. Kind of a nerdgasm. Some days it’s just what I need.

Wine poured.

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