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Red and Clay

August 22, 2009

Photo by Phillie Casablanca

Photo by Phillie Casablanca

The color red has tremendous significance in Chinese and Japanese culture. It is often the prominent color in weddings, and symbolizes future happiness for the couple and their families. Some sources discuss the use of red in Buddhism, and how Japanese folklore associates the color with the removal of demons and disease. Walking in New York’s Chinatown one night, you may catch dozens of red lanterns strung along buildings, and red envelopes are used to enclose presents during special events.

I’m working on a new necklace made out of 100% mercerized cotton yarn in a beautiful, deep red. The color choice is inspired by the significance red has in these wonderful cultures. While I initially thought I would not use crochet for my newest Chauncey P. Graham collection, I couldn’t help but pick up my hook when I saw this yarn! This is the first time I’ve used a really small hook (size 3.5 mm), and I am doing a really simple pattern with small circles in half-double crochet.

RedLantern2

Like red, clay is important in many cultures throughout the world. Native American cultures create everything from masks to pots with clay, often made from crushed seashells, sand and other materials. Similarly, African cultures use clay to make beautiful beads, such as the Kazuri beads of Kenya, and they paint them with vivid and bright colors like golden yellow and burnt orange.

Photo by Debby Caselton for the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health.

Photo by Debby Caselton for the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health.

Inspired by this worldwide practice, I am creating my own beads from polymer clay. It is a really simple process, and most art supply stores sell small blocks of polymer clay in a wide variety of colors. Once you purchase it, all you have to do is knead it, mold it into the shape you want, pierce a hole and then stick it in the oven. In a matter of minutes (or 30 minutes, to be exact) you’ll have beautiful beads! These handmade teal beads will be strung along wire to create a beautiful necklace, then posted very soon on my Etsy shop!

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