A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Friday, October 31, 2014

African Recycled Glass Discs

My Newest Obsession
I've had a couple colors of these African recycled glass discs in my stash for quite a while but only recently became obsessed with them--it was when I saw them in a bunch more colors! And then I had to start working on having them all (my Mom is so lucky I missed the Pokemon craze). This is the color assortment I currently have, from Happy Mango Beads and Afrobeadia. They are also available in clear, dark green, pale brown, purple, cerulean, clear with gold speckles, orange, and black (and sometimes maroon). Ima need 'em all.

What I like about them is 1) they are the perfect size for anything, not too big, not too small, 2) They are lightweight, so, great for earrings, 3) The holes are plenty big so you can get lots of cording or wire through there to create sturdy links (and if you have to ream them bigger, the reamer goes through like buttah), 4) The holes are smooth so not likely to cut through your cording, and 5) They have a rustic texture, somewhat like a stone, but translucent. What's not to love?

The first thing I used them in was a bracelet (I've posted this one before):

And then I wanted to use them in earrings. Some of them had slightly smaller holes, so I had to ream them a bit to make room for the wire I wanted to use. I was pretty sure I could make it work. So I went to town and this is what I came up with:

This pair has azure discs, as well as Indonesian striped beads (this color is my absolute favorite) and blue glass rondelles, all from Happy Mango Beads. I used a little silver, and a little copper--plenty of room in the hole, after reaming a little, for a hammered 20-gauge headpin at the bottom, and two courses of 22-gauge wire at the top.
Carny Girl
This pair is all about autumn (also featured at Earrings Everyday today)--light green discs from Afrobeadia, amber glass lampwork rondelles from Happy Mango, and sterling silver torpedo beads from Monsterslayer.
Autumn Turning
This is a real southern belle pair of earrings! The colors make me think of sunny French Country decor, and the stacked tulip beads make me think of petticoats! Yellow discs from Afrobeadia, ice blue tulip beads from Happy Mango, and little turquoise glass seed beads also from Happy Mango (these little turquoise seed beads harmonize perfectly with turquoise stones, I love them). (My secondary obsession is these little African recycled glass tulip beads, also available at Happy Mango and Afrobeadia, in multiple colors--azure! purple! (oh wait, I have purple) olive green! brown! gold! orange! white! black! maroon! red! yellow! Ima need all those too.)
Alabama Petticoats
With this pair I went all earthy. I was determined to use the smoky glass discs (they remind me of smoky quartz, or even labradorate without the flash--Hey, heads up, glass disc people in Africa--AB finish on these, 'kay? They'll go like hotcakes!), and I wanted to contrast them with a warmer color, so I put them with peachy pink lampwork from The Spacer Bead Shop and copper torpedoes from Monsterslayer. These discs really make me think of sea glass, which I love.

This pair I got kind of crazy with--they're very long, like 4". I used "Mali Blue" discs (a teal blue) from Afrobeadia, carved black horn feathers, amber rondelles again from Happy Mango, and big Unicorn "Chocolate Luster" lampwork rondelles with an amber center from Stinky Dog Beads.
I'm sure I will be doing more! As well as some multicolor knotted bracelets, constructed like the one above, so stay tuned!

(Sorry, all the stuff above is sold, so I didn't include any Etsy links.)

Happy weekend to you!


  1. The beads are great, like you say you'd just have to have every colourway - think I'll get myself some too. Love, love, love the earrings and the way you've combined the colours. Notice the wire is looking flatter, did you use square wire or just bash it? Wondered if you put anything on copper earwires to stop them discolouring the skin. I don't like the idea of using a spray or varnish. I've recently starting buffing copper with ren wax but I'm sure I read that you're not keen on it. Can I ask why? Have a lovely weekend as well.

    1. Thank you! I just bashed the wire as you say, to make more of a tape. I've never used square wire, it just doesn't appeal to me. I always lacquer my copper and brass pieces (and sometimes even the silver ones) with ClearGuard or Permalac to preserve the patina. (ClearGuard is identical to Permalac but much cheaper, I get it at SculptNouveau. Cleanup with lacquer thinner.) The pieces hold up very well then and the patina doesn't rub off on clothing or skin, and I've not heard from anyone that they've had any sensitivity to the lacquered copper or brass earwires (I lacquer those too). Many of the commercial metal components you purchase are coated with a lacquer to inhibit tarnish anyway so it's an old tradition. I wouldn't like to use a latex-type coating, it just doesn't seem very durable. These solvent-based lacquers are rock-hard. I apply it with a small brush (spray is not convenient for me). I have Ren Wax and have used it, but to me it feels sticky, and seems to become stickier in warm weather. I also usually prefer a glossy look to my metal and the Ren Wax dulls it some so I don't use it much. If I was going for a more satin finish I might use it. I do however, use Ren Wax over patinas and color-treated pieces (on top of the lacquer or other sealant) as an extra layer of protection, as shine doesn't matter to me then.

    2. Hi again Keirsten - I really hope I'm not oustaying my welcome on your blog, but I felt I had to reply to your very helpful answer. I've not noticed the dulling aspect of ren wax as I've not used it long enough on metal, I bought it to shine up my polymer clay beads but didn't like the finish preferring to use the dremel instead. So after reading your info I think I might try the lacquer, although I can't get permalac or clearguard in the UK online and definitely not on the little Scottish Island I live on but have found something similar called Rustins on amazon so I shall try that. Incidentally I looked on Afrobedia for the gorgeous glass disc beads but just couldn't bring myself to pay over £15 postage for a few beads. Sometimes I really wish I lived in the US :(

    3. Oh, you don't want to use Permalac or any solvent based lacquer on polymer clay, I think it will melt it. I would use it only on metal. You need to use something different on polymer clay. I would hunt around on the Internet for tips on sealing polymer clay.

  2. I love recycled glass beads too, you are a master at using them. I love the petticoat beads, I've never seen them where the heck did you find them? I love your gorgeous creations, so happy you've got your mojo back girl!

    1. Thanks Kristi! There are links in the post to the tulip beads at Happy Mango and Afrobeadia. It's hard to see, the link font is in purple and hard to distinguish from the black font. The links are in the paragraph right before the picture of the petticoat earrings.

  3. Oooh, they are delicious! They are beautiful, and what a grand bunch of goodies you've created with them. May have to go on a hunt for some of those beads myself....

  4. Love all these earrings! Is there a color of glass bead that doesn't look gorgeous with patinated copper?? I don't think so! I bring home a bagful of beads every time we travel to Ghana, including these glass discs. Thanks for sharing your designs!

  5. I am the very lucky owner of Autumn Turning and I absolutely LOVE them...everytime I look at them and everytime I wear them. Absolutely exquisite work!