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red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.


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ojime bead2A few posts ago I was struggling to remember the name of Japanese Ojime Beads -- hand-carved boxwood beads hand-carved by master woodworkers.  These special beads have a wonderful history, detailed by Anna Weller of Big Bead Little Bead -- better than I could ever hope to do -- so here's the link to that.  

Here, I'll summarize by noting that these are handcrafted decorative beads used as cord fasteners since as early as the 16th century in Japan.  They have been made of fine metals, ivory, hornbill ivory, precious stones, jade, lacquer, tortoise shell, glass, coral, bone, stag antler, boar tooth and tusk, nuts and seeds, as well as other natural materials.  The beads were used in conjunction with a box used for carrying small personal items Because the traditional Kimono had no pockets, this box was worn to hold  small personal items.  I find this to be a lovely and entrancing tradition, and also find myself thinking I might prefer such a method to today's bulky bags and purses. We'll be making a trek to Japan soon, hoping we'll find some wonderful Ojime beads to share with you. In the meantime, I have only one available for sale (a delightful rabbit bead). I’ll be posting it on our Etsy site soon.



0 # Sheila McLaughlin 2013-01-16 23:10
Many, many thanks to Jamey Allen, Bead Historian, for providing more critical information on 'Ojime':

The manufacture and use of ojime in Japan is an historical fact. An ojime is a specialized bead...The number of authentic ojime is rather few, when compared to the number of beads misrepresented as "ojime."

Over the past fifteen years or so, "ojime" have been cranked-out in factories in China--most often from boxwood. These are NOT ojime. They are Chinese beads, made for commercial export. And, the models for these beads are often not traditional ojime, but rather are sometimes netsuke (a different part of an inro ensemble--the toggle). Further, the beads are not "hand-carved," ... They are carved using machinery ...
Consequently, it is very misleading for these beads to be marketed as "ojime"--...Jap anese and Chinese beads routinely produced in factories, that have mistakenly come to be sold as "ojimeare not.
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0 # Donna Gingrasso 2013-01-21 18:06
Hi! Very interesting article and info on the Ojime beads. A few years ago at a craft fair, I met a vendor who said she goes to China very often, and she was selling beads that were classified as Ojime. I BOUGHT A STRAND of these beads from her at the time. They were terribly expensive, but I really liked them. Mine are made of wood and are totally round. The design on them kind of resembles a "basket weave". So according to this article, they are NOT Ojime? I was told they were. Thanks..DG
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0 # Sheila McLaughlin 2013-01-22 17:45
Hi Donna, according to Jamey, they are not -- and it sounds like he is more of an expert than I am. He did admit that the more modern, non-authentic 'Ojime' beads manufactured in China can also be very beautiful and worth collecting, though. I think he was presenting the purist's perspective; he did admit that beads today made in China are commonly called 'Ojime', but he feels that is inaccurate and a misrepresentati on of the true Japanese Ojime bead tradition. That's my understanding, anyway! Thanks for weighing in. You might try to contact Jamey via LinkedIn and send him a photo of your beads and see what he says -- he seems very knowledgeable. Let me know if you need help with that.
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