Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beads from Around the World

Every time I think about the bead business I continue to be amazed at the extraordinary variety of people that buying beads has brought into my life. These people lead such interesting lives and have such stories to tell and have really broadened my Midwestern world. Take Peter for instance…

Peter just appeared in our store one day with his bald head and “nerdy” black plastic rimmed glasses and hemp-style 1960’s shepherd shirt and asked if we’d like to look at his semi-precious beads. Well, sure, we like to look at beads. A few minutes later he’s carting in stacks of grey plastic tubs full of baggies of hundreds of beads. He dumps them out on our table (along w/ Fritos crumbles and spilled coffee) and our beady relationship has begun. He’s the self-styled “Mr. Chaos” I mentioned last week. After years of him appearing out of the blue (we now know about what time of the year we might hear from him) we have gotten used to his “unique” style and learned more about his nomadic life. He is now choosing to spend nearly ½ the year in China where he meets with a variety of stone cutters and manufacturers. He then ships his stones back to the US, flies back and meets them (the beads that is) on the east coast, and he’s off, hopping across the United States, 1 bead store at a time until he hits the west coast. During that time he lives & sleeps in his truck (hence the Fritos & coffee), just changing his shirt (I think – I’ve only ever seen 2 shirts in all his visits). As far as I can tell, he doesn't really exist. I don't know his last name; his company name doesn't have an internet site; and there are no pictures of him that I can find. I always wonder when he walks out the door what the future holds - will I ever see him again? A true traveling tinker of old!

Ebrima is another engaging gentleman who had visited us from time to time. Often dressed in the loose fitting colorful yellow, green and red woven shirts that call Africa to mind, he always greets with a warm, sincere smile that goes all the way to his eyes. And his handshake when leaving is an equally warm and friendly double handed shake which gently communicates his gracious thanks. While he now lives in northern Ohio with his wife Ruth where they own a bead store, he is originally from Gambia, Africa, where nearly all his family still lives. He visits them frequently and while there stocks up on his extensive array of beads from Africa. The last time he was here in early September, he was flying out the very next day for Africa. The history of beads from Africa could fill pages, and Ebrima is always able to tell us the approximate age and source for his African beads, which often were made in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and range from decades to centuries old. The last time he was here he brought us Snake Vertebrae beads (kid you not – real snake bone), African Christmas Beads & Wedding Beads, and beautiful old chandelier drop crystals from the early 1900’s just to name a few things. I actually got to touch some glass beads that were made in Rome when the Coliseum was still in use! Boy would I love to add those to my collection {sigh- maybe someday}! The beads I did acquire are still featured in our 1 Stop Bead Shop New Arrivals section.

Want to learn more about our beads that come from around the world? Join us for our Bead Around the World Adventure next Friday, October 7, 2011, from 7:00 – 9:00. Games, prizes, refreshments & entertainment - 1 Stop Bead Shop style!

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