"Trade beads are usually associated with West Africa where they are usually found, but they were originally created in Venice, Bohemia, and Holland. The history of trade beads dates back to the end of the fifteenth century when Portuguese trading ships arrived on the coast of West Africa to exploit its many resources, including gold, slaves, ivory, and palm oil. In those days, beads were a major component of the currency exchanged for people and products. Over the four centuries that followed, millions of beads were traded to Africa, and by the nineteenth century, European bead makers were producing a wide variety of designs specifically for the African trade, such as millefiori, chevrons, striped melons, feather, and eye beads." Full article at Beadopedia,My very first experience with Millefiori in polymer clay was when I made rainbows and watermelons for my little magnets and ornaments I was making at the time. I did not know it was a technique then. I have a ceramics background and Neriage was what I knew. Using colored porcelain to make images or patterned rods. It is also called Nerikomi and you can see that here. http://ceramicartsdaily.org/ceramic-supplies/ceramic-colorants-ceramic-supplies-2/creating-neriage-blocks-decorating-with-colored-clay-patterns/?floater=99
Faith Rahill is a talented ceramicist and she works with Nerikomi blocks of pattern and you can see her work here http://www.faithrahillpottery.com/
This really the same thing we call the Millefiori technique in Polymer clay.
There is a great explanation of Neriage and Nerikomi here by Robin Hopper http://ceramicartsdaily.org/pottery-making-techniques/wheel-throwing-techniques/you-say-neriage-i-say-nerikomino-matter-what-you-call-it-mixing-colored-clays-makes-for-gorgeous-pottery-surfaces/?floater=99
So, I would make bullseye canes of rainbow colors, slice off sections and cut the slice in half, tah-dah rainbow. I would make watermelons basically the same way.
It was a production method for me.
I liked doing this. I started practicing other designs by copying glass rod patterns used in Millefiori paperweights and glass beads.
|These are the cane rods slices used for those Imitative African trade beads.|
I thought it would be fun to make these canes again and that you might be interested in it too.
It is good practice for you and fun sometimes for me to go back, and I need canes for a Bottles of Hope workshop later. I thought I would share.
I will also show you how to make some beads from these, you game?
Flower cane (it is shown as #2 above)
Green or Light Green Cernit- 1 2.2 ounce block
Opaque White Cernit- 1 2.2 ounce block
Yellow Cernit- 1 2.2 ounce block
Poppy Red Cernit- 1 2.2 ounce block
Porcelain white Cernit- 4 2.2 ounce blocks
Clay extruder and triangle disk
All links lead to my husband's store, thank you for looking!
I mixed all of my colors with the same amount of porcelain white and a 3/8" ball of Opaque white.
For the white I used in the cane I mixed 1 part Opaque white with 1 part porcelain white.
Lay the yellow coil on the sheet of red clay.
Cut the bottom edge with your clay blade at an angle.
Angle the blade towards the coil of a beveled edge.
Place the clay blade right next to the end of the coil and cut off the end of the clay sheet to the end of the yellow coil.
Cut the other side too.
Angle the blade back toward you to cut a beveled edge.
Cut the triangle extrusion in to lengths as long as the coil and red sheet that you just made.
Place the coil in to the dips left between the triangles.
Add a triangle add a coil all the way around the center coil.
Place the point of the triangle in to each dip between the white coils.
Trim leading edge and sides to the coil.
Match the cut edges and smooth together.
Turn the cane a little and squeeze a little lower. Keep turning and squeezing a little at a time. Slowly reducing the size of the cane. When you get to one end, turn the cane over and squeeze again.
Reduce the cane to half the diameter.
Roll the cane on the work surface to smooth and reduce the coil further to about 3/4" in diameter.
I also cut by rolling the coil and the blade forward. I call this a rolling cut.
It is easier to cut the cane right away after I have made it if I do it this way.
Part 2 http://mariesegal.blogspot.com/2011/03/african-trade-beads-part-2.html