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Perle Wound beads

Wound beads are produced by winding a hot and molten rod of glass or strand drawn from molten glass around a metal wire called a mandrel. The bead maker sits in front of the heat source, typically a flame, heating the glass and winding the bead. Therefore these beads are also referred to as lamp‑wound beads. While still soft, the beads might be decorated with any of a myriad of inlays or appliques, and the variety of decorations is infinite. The most elaborately decorated wound beads are known as fancy beads.

Sometimes wound beads may be pressed with metal paddles or tongs to produce a uniform shape. In West Africa we most often see squared or flattened wound beads. The surface of wound beads usually exhibits swirl marks that encircle the axis, an imaginary line passing through the centre of the perforation. Bubbles in the glass are either round or elongated and oriented like the swirl marks.

Unlike drawn beads, wound beads are made individually, and often not in a factory setting, but rather by piecework in people's houses. This was often women's work, and as with other "cottage" industries the pay was by completed bead. The amount of work to make these beads is considerable, and such fancy wound beads are not made in commercial quantifies any more. Yet, in the past, many thousands were made, and the majority of European beads in the museum collection are wound beads. Further information on wound beads can be found in Karkfins (1985:96), Jargstoff (1995) and Trivellato (1998). Beautiful pictures showing the amazing variety of wound beads can be seen in Picard and Picard (1987).

CARPE DIEM - Le bois vert - 44370 VARADES - FRANCE - email : - Phone : +33 (0)2 40 98 39 22
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