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 History of our beads -rosary workshop - history index
TALKING ABOUT BEADS
 the beads we use in our work have a history




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 BEADS TELL US MUCH 
ABOUT WHO WE ARE AS A PEOPLE
On this page we are mainly concentrating on beads we use at the Rosary Workshop for rosary making. We hope to share why we love to use the beads we use. This is not meant to be a history about beads as that subject fills books.  Beads tell us so much about who we are as a people.
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DID YOY KNOW
ABOUT 59 BEADS TO A STRING
We discovered that there was a time when a certain sized bead (7 mm) was only to be used for making Paternosters or Rosaries. I wonder. As today, it is very hard to find a 7 mm bead and most of our commercial rosaries are 7mm.  Another curiosity regarding the making of beads specifically for Paternoster or Rosaries is, that beads were set 59 to a string, the exact amount needed to make a rosary. They are still around, these old 59 strand beads, I run across them every so often and smile. They measure pretty close to the traditional 16 inch strands we find universally strung today, which helps date them.

SEARCH ROSARY WORKSHOP:


to learn more, visit the following links 
TABLE CUTS / WINDOW BEADS   -    PRESSED BEADS
PICASSO BEADS   - NAIL HEADS
some of our favorites 
JABLONIX / GABLONZ   -   37th ST MAGIC
DJENNE BEADS   -  VINTAGE PLASTICS
and then there are these links, not to miss
BLOW BEADS   -  JEWISH HISTORY
 PONY BEADS  -  SEEDS / PODS
good books, etc
BEAD RESEARCH

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POTOMAC BEAD CO.

~  TABLE CUTS / WINDOW BEADS ~

Googling 'how to make table cut beads' introduced me to Nathan Buchman (Potomac Bead Co).  He shared: 'Most Czech glass originated in the late 1800's, but of course was done primarily by hand (faceted, cutting), rather than by machine as is done now.  Of course, they would have had less varieties of color, shape etc. then. 

OLDER VINTAGE CZECH  TABLE CUTS

I don't know when precisely table cutting would have originated, but like with much of the other Czech glass styles, it would have been 100-130 years ago, and only really brought back into popular production in the last 20 years (post-communist business).

THESE ARE A NEWER VARIETY OF TABLE CUTS.

AND YOU CAN SEE HOW THEY ARE GROWING IN COLOR
AND DESIGNS!

Many of these artisans 100+ years ago also emigrated to Germany, which is where much of the German glass originated.   During WWII, many of these artists (Czech Jews) were killed or moved, and other German glass artists living in the Czech were chased back to Germany, but a thriving business still exists in both countries.  Hope this all helps!'

Nathan has a wonderful photo essay of their visit to Czechoslovakian bead makers, showing how the beads are made Be sure and visit this photo tour along with looking at the beautiful selection of beads at the Potomac Bead Company:
POTOMAC BEAD COMPANY
 TABLE CUTS
 

The tablet shaped beads above are newer examples of 'two window' or 'table cut' beads as are these below. They were first pressed into shape, then polished on both surfaces. The heart shaped beads are older and the Czech Vender dated them Vintage. 


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~ ANTIQUE PRESSED BEADS ~

The Vender dated these hand Pressed beads around 1910. A great example of pressed 'faceted' beads that have not been polished or cleaned. Note the lines on each bead showing where the glass maker's tool or mold met on the hot glass. Some of these beads have a great deal of roughage or extra glass around the center of the bead. 

Also notice the natural aura that happens over time as old glass begins the aging process. If my notes are correct, they are from Germany. Today they are machine pressed but pre war, they were individually formed from hot glass in a bead mold by a glass bead maker, then polished to remove the irregularities. The shape of the bead was determined by the shape of mold at the end of a scissor like tool.
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MANY NEW PRESSED BEADS 
REFLECT DESIGNS OF THE OLD
 Here you will see pressed beads in various shapes that - although new - reflect the old traditions of bead making in Bohemia and Bavaria. (see below) Unlike the limited editions, these are readily available and carry the same signature crucifixes and centers cast from antique and vintage pieces.
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 Lustre Beads look like ancient glass and the forever favorite little rosebud rosaries dedicated to Mary's garden 
      There was a period in the history of bead making - a few centuries ago - when pressed beads became very popular.  Molten glass was drawn into long thin rods and cooled. These rods could be as long as 20 meters and as thin as 1mm.  They were cut into 'canes' which were about 3 feet long.  (small seed beads were made this way and called 'drawn beads')
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This more workable length allowed the bead maker to soften the glass then press it into new shapes with the use of tongs that actually molded the glass into interesting beads. They became so good at their craft that it was hard to tell the difference between faceted beads that were cut and those that were molded.  Today, many of these shapes from the old molds are being used again and we are very excited about the opportunity to offer some of these to you in various forms.

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 BEAUCOUP CONGE

~ 'PICASSO' BEADS ~

of TUCSON

We asked how Picasso beadsd were made. Tomas explained, ‘The picasso finish beads were pressed into the shapes, then fire polished, which is to subject them to high heat for a short time to melt just the very outer layer of glass to make them smooth, or polished. Then they were subjected to various heated gasses from metals to get the coatings, which are on the beads. I don't know why they are called picasso.' Thse are from Austria and are pre war - 1940.

    for more information, click icon above

... FINDING THE PICASSO BEADS ...
We bought a fairly large lot (several hundred pounds) of beads based on a few samples and verbal descriptions. The beads weren't going to be especially - terrible or wonderful either - was our expectation ... When David was going thru the boxes he found about what was expected until he came upon the boxes with the picasso beads. Box after box of beautiful and wonderful 1940's picasso beads in all kinds of shapes and colors. For us, it was a fantastic find in what otherwise was just a pretty normal lot of older beads.' ABC Beads


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~ NAIL HEAD BEADS  ~
 

 


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~ JABLONEX - GABLONZ ~

We proudly carry both.  Jablonex is the finest of the bead makers today and we focus on carrying their Czecholsovakian beads. Over the years we have specialized in antique and vintage beads from the early glass beadmakers of the Gablonz group. Our supplies are almost gone and our source has dried up so we treasure these old beads! 

 

 





~ 37th STREET MAGIC ~

 My first trip was totally addicting.  I heard great stories from friends who haunted the basements of the old bead venders on 37th, with, "The old boxes are falling off the shelves on either side of the aisle, and the once organized beads, counted and carefully wrapped in brown tissue in Europe, were now falling out of the shelves - the higher the shelves, the further the boxes extended, creating a type of corredor of mystery." Oh my! were they right! It was a dusty, dank basement of discovery that exists no more Fragments of the tissue were often in my bag when I would walk back out onto the street. I could not throw them away! 

 

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~ DJENNE BEADS ~

I purchased these beads from Ruth and John Picard in Santa Fe (Bead Symposium) years ago. And understood they were from the Djenne dig approx 600 ad, (5th to 15c). These are stone, typically agate and carnelian were found in the area. The beads purchased were mostly stone, agate, carnelian and a few shell (not all showing).

In the book HISTORY OF BEADS, (Lois Sherr Dubin) mentions that the excavations revealed shapes and raw materials represented those stone beads believed exported from India to Western Asia and Africa before the Christian Era. She mentioned that some beads found may be African made, 'Indian stone bead making originated about 65,00 BC" and 'Most bead making techniques remain unchanged'.

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1940s - 50s

~ 'VINTAGE PLASTICS' ~

ACRYLICS & LUCIITES
 



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~ 'BLOW BEADS' ~

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ANTIQUE BEAD FINDINGS

~ JEWISH HISTORY ~

   THE BEAD INDUSTRY
AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE 
  The Jewish people are deeply rooted in - and well known for their involvement in the bead industry . Their history in the making, trading and selling of beads goes back for centuries. One has to know that many were victims of the war  (and concentration camps) thus many of their secret hiding places of hope were lost in time and history. This was shared by a second generation Czech Vender, who confirmed that many beadmakers buried their beads (this was not unusual) to hide them during WWII, hoping they would be back to salvage them after the war.  Sadly, many did not return. Instead, many of these lost and hidden sites have now been found as areas are bulldozed for new 21st century construction sites.
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for more information, please click icon
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Also, we are told as the older generations of bead makers, who made each bead by hand, died off and beads began to be made by machine in the 50s and 60s.  The bead makers family sold off their private bead collections to jobbers as they,  the children, ventured into a more state of the arts world of computers and other businesses. When these old treasures are gone, there will be no more. 
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BUT LET US NOT FORGET 
Recently, on the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust, Fr Michael wrote from the UK that he had dedicated a Mass to the victims. 'The theme of the day was 'Survivors, Liberation and Rebuilding Lives.' He said in his bulletin, 'This anniversary of the liberation of the extermination and concentration camps presents one of the greatest opportunities to show our respect for the survivors of Nazi persecution and mass murder, and to listen to what they can tell us about the best and the worst of human behavior.' He also remembers them by praying one of the rosaries made of these old beads. 
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WHY WE NEED TO REMEMBER 
“And so the survivor told himself that not to remember was equivalent to becoming the enemy's accomplice: Whosoever contributes to oblivion finishes the killers work. Hence the vital necessity to bear witness lest one find oneself in the enemy's camp” (from “A Plea for the Survivors” in Elie Wisel’s A Jew Today). Shared by Father Michael Cleary (UK)




~ PONY BEADS ~


 




~ SEED / POD BEADS ~


 

 





~ BEAD BOOKS - HISTORY ~

HEBREW HISTORY - BEADS

 



ROSARY WORKSHOP 
MISSION STATEMENT
Our vision is to provide the finest handmade rosaries, chaplets and other fine religious art forms for personal worship we can make using the best supplies available.  The Guild believes the work of our hands should give visual Glory to God, therefore for us, the best for you is very, very important.

SEARCH ROSARY WORKSHOP:


for great information, visit: 
POTOMAC BEAD COMPANY
CZECH BEAD FACTORY TOUR
 open these links
TABLE CUTS    -   FIREPOLISHING
then go back to top and review
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