Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eyeing the Mystery

I hope as bead and jewelry designers, you subscribe to newsletters created by your favorite vendors. Yes??? Good! I love the Fire Mountain Gems newsletters. They keep me up on trends, have patterns and ideas and sometimes are about the history of a particular bead or jewelry style.

Their recent article on eye beads fascinated me. I admit, I've always had a fascination with them probably because my two closest friends are from  European cultures. I also live near a huge Armenian community - yet another culture that believes in the power of the protective eye.

I've had people / customers from our Western culture say to me point blank, "Eye beads are creepy."  I do my best to inform them of the history and the power that many cultures place on eye beads. From the belief that eye beads offer protection to the wearer... a steady, non-blinking source reflecting evil back on ill-wishers to the idea that you can deflect your own negativity by simply wearing an eye bead. These beads have been around for generations.

But what surprised me even more is the dots and bumps that are so common in glass beadmaking are also believed to add protection to the wearer. The implication is the dots confuse the evil and send it packing. And...dots really are just one more take on creating eyes.

I've heard different tales over the years as to the number of eyes that is desirable. A friend told me to never have two...that they cancel one another out. Yet the article pointed out that two eyes on a bead actually means protection for a love / marriage / relationship. 

The other magic number of eyes to wear is nine. But if your beadmaker is oh so talented with balancing lots of murini on a big bead... why stop there? Check out this 25 eye bead made my by friend Janel of Janel Dudley Beads (shop closed until she moves in April) 

I urge you to read the Fire Mountain Gems article to know more but I want to leave you with a question. This next photo is what is typically thought of as a common eye bead:

Made in China, most certainly not cleaned or annealed and available for around 50 cents. Please tell me, do you see the difference in of these mass made beads and the beads I and my fellow Fire Divas make? 


Karin said...

Hi Holly! Yay...I found your cards. This is Karin from the Creatopia infomericial. I found your cards the other day and finally was able to get over to your website. Love your work!! I will share on my blog....Talk to you soon! Karin

Lauren said...

That is so interesting, Holly! I grew up in a house with lots of "eye" things (my dad is an ophthalmologist). My dad probably has every eyeball tie made, eyeball soap and various other eye-related things. So the eye doesn't creep me out. I think it works great as a focal bead because it's pretty (love yours!) and it's definitely a conversation piece. Now I know more of the background on eyeball beads - very cool!

JanelDudleyBeads said...

Very cool post Holly! For some reason eyeballs have always fascinated me, I love the diversity in each one. Thanks for featuring my necklace!