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Friday, November 28, 2014



       Did you ever wonder, as you are eating Thanksgiving dinner, why our national bird is called turkey?  It turns out that the North American turkey (Meleagris gallapova) had traveled the world long before the English settlers encountered it in North America.
       One linguistic story is that the Portuguese, using their new trading privileges granted by the treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, brought the turkey, among other items, from Spanish territories in the Americas to Goa, the Portuguese colony in India.  To this day, the Portuguese word for Turkey is peru, perhaps referring to Peru, the South American country.  From India, the turkey was traded to a number of countries, including  Egypt.  There, turkey entered the Turkic language as hindi (from India).  If you are interested in what turkey is called in other languages, take a look at Pulsations. When traders took the turkey to Spain and the British Isles, the bird was named turkey (from Turkey) because Egypt was a province ruled by the Ottomans, a Turkish dynasty. While that's an interesting story, there are questions about whether the Portuguese actually brought back a guinea fowl, a different bird from the American turkey.
      There seems to be more documentation for the North American turkey to have come to the attention of the Spanish conquistador Juan de Grijalva in Mexico in 1581.  Hernan Cortes found both domesticated turkeys kept by the Aztecs and wild turkeys on his expedition just a year later.  The explorers brought the American turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) back to Spain, where it spread to the rest of Europe and the British isles.  The name turkey came from a confusion with the guinea fowl, an African bird that was briefly referred to as turkey because it was thought to have been imported into Europe by way of Turkey (as in theory #1).
      Domesticated turkeys became an important source of meat in Western Europe by 1580.  Turkeys were recognized as very useful birds by sailors and traders because the birds provided more meat than a chicken, could be stored on small cages on ships, and ate just about anything.  George Peckham even suggested that English colonists head to North America take male and female birds with them.
      Imagine the surprise of the English colonists to encounter wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) when they landed in North America!  The bird had come full circle.  So that is a quick version of how our national bird has traveled the world and why we call it a turkey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I realized that I have been remiss in sharing information about some new books, so I will be doing a few book reviews on the blog. The first is Bead Play with Fringe by Jamie Cloud Eakin (JCE Publishing, ISBN: 978-1500777418, around $17.54 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble)

As the title announces, this book is all about fringe. It consists of 94 pages divided into 8 chapters covering topics such as supplies, fringe basics, standard fringe, loop fringe, kinky fringe, branch fringe, twisted and spiral fringe, and basic procedures. One puzzling mistake in the Supplies section that I want to correct is that Silamide thread is not a "rice-filament" but it is actually a pre-waxed, 2-ply, nylon thread with twisted filaments made by the A.H. Rice Company of Pittsfield. MA. Long used in garment construction, this thread has become a favorite of many beaders so its mischaracterization made me wonder about the quality of research.

Aside from that error, there is a lot of information in this book for someone who wants to learn how to make beaded fringe. Chapter 2 has a useful photo index of which fringe instructions are found on which page, making for a quick overview. It also covers treatments for ending fringe and how to attach the fringe to different types of bead stitching, i.e. loom stitch, brick stitch, or herringbone stitch. The subsequent chapters cover specifics of each type of fringe and include projects that are based on a simple ladder of beads so that the reader is concentrating on the fringe techniques; a few fringes have even faster projects of earrings for those impatient beaders. There are lots of illustrations and charts to guide the beginner fringe maker.

The drawback to the book is that the photos are okay but not up to the standard set by the majority of beading books published today. They are good enough for you to sort of see what you are making, but you will be frustrated if you are one of those people who learns better with visual material and counts on clear, detailed photos to guide you. There are a large number of charts and illustrations to make up for the photos, but the presentation of the beadwork is not the eye candy that many expect.

I am not sure how much of the problem with the photos is due to the fact that the book was not done with a high-end, four-color, offset process on coated paper but was done as print-on-demand, which uses a process such as laser or inkjet printing on a matte paper.

Still, this book could prove useful if you are new to beaded fringe and a few ideas might even appeal to experienced beaders. I showed fellow, New York beaders the book to make sure that I wasn’t being too critical and, while they were not impressed with the visual aspects, they thought the book would be useful for beginners. A few ladies thought the spiral fringe looked interesting. So, if the cover of Bead Play With Fringe appeals to you or you are new to fringe, you should find this book helpful.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I am so excited to be teaching my Luminous Tweed bracelet using the new etched farfalle beads at Bead Fest 2015 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Philadelphia on Saturday, April 11 from 5:30-8:30 pm.

In this class you will learn a variation of right angle weave as you stich this stunning cuff that looks like a tweed fabric translated into glass. After completing the main stitching with Czech etched farfalle beads and size 8 seed beads, you will learn how to embellish alternating spaces with crystal roundels. Once all of the beads and crystals are in place, you will learn how to attach the bracelet to the magnetic clasp with glue.

Registration is now open for those of you who really like to plan ahead and here is the link Workshop Registration.  I hope you can join us.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


In answer to requests, I have listed 2 patterns in my RecklessBeading Etsy shop that will make quick and fun holiday presents.  First is the tutorial for the Mini Wreath earrings/pendants using the Russian spiral stich.
Mini Wreath tutorial

 This tutorial will first show you how to make a beadwork tube of bugle beads and seed beads using the Russian spiral stitch. The tutorial will then show you how to turn the tube into a circle, add a bow of seed beads and crystals, and finish the wreath with ear wires or a ribbon to make quick, festive earrings or pendants.

The second is the tutorial for the Bloomin' Wire crochet flower.

Bloomin' Wire flower

The tutorial for these charming 2.5 inch (7 centimeter) flowers crocheted of craft wire, long Magatama beads, and seed beads is just the ticket. The flowers need only basic knowledge of crochet, making them perfect for beginners to advanced crocheters. A Swarovski pearl and a few basic wire working techniques complete the flower. Instructions are given for making a flower pendant but the flowers could also be attached to hair clips, hung as ornaments, or used to decorate packages.