Thursday, March 16, 2017

How It's Made: Handmade Beaded Egg Ornaments

Beaded Egg Ornaments
Just in time for your Easter decorating yet with versatility and visual interest for any time of year, our hand-beaded egg ornaments are here.

From the banks of the Tugela River in South Africa, a group of 100 Zulu women handcraft these beautiful, sustainable, collectible works of art. The images that follow show the eggs at different stages in the production process.  Please note photography was provided directly from the South African village and is not high resolution. 

First, a raw egg is bandaged with selotape and surrounded with a network of copper wire. The artisan begins weaving, applying just enough pressure to keep the egg intact while creating intricate patterns. Only a very few women possess the technique required; if the egg is broken the work cannot be salvaged. 

When the egg is nearly enclosed with beading, a piece of wire is used to pierce a circle in the shell through which the contents are removed to be consumed. Finally, the shell is scraped away from the interior and the hole is woven shut. These exquisite and unique keepsakes then commence their journey to destinations throughout the world.  

Every time an egg is purchased it helps promote The Fair Trade Federation which guarantees fair wages, equal opportunities, safe working conditions, and long term relationships built on mutual respect. Each one-of-a-kind egg includes a hangtag signed by the artist. Your egg purchase may just have been created by one of the wonderful women pictured here.

Thank you for supporting The Art Institute of Chicago and fair trade artisans everywhere!

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