Friday, November 16, 2012

French Gilt Gold Metal Cord Thread

These French gilt gold metal threads are made with real metal, wrapped around a cotton core. It is about the size of sewing thread. These threads were used in metal embroidery for couching and other embroidery stitches.

Generally, the French gold thread is made of thin plates of metal cut into strips, and wound round strands of cotton in the same manner as the Japanese gold. If the metal is real, the cost is of course great. It is sold by weight. In addition to its superiority in wear, it has this advantage, that old gold or silver thread is always of intrinsic value, and may be sold at the current price of the metal whatever state it may be in. Many varieties of gilt thread are manufactured in France and England, which may be used when the great expense of real gold is objected to. But although it looks equally well at first, it soon becomes tarnished, and spoils the effect of the embroidery.

French Gilt Gold Metal Cord Thread.

The closer look of the thread.

The label stating "FINE GOLD THREAD".

The other side of the label stating "MADE IN FRANCE".

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rocaille Beads / Manek Potong

Rocaille means uneven surface in French. Originally the beads were irregular in shape, thus the term "rocaille". They were first used in 1647 by the French for trading with Africans and other colonies, as well as with Native Americans for furs. The colourful beads were used by Native Americans to decorate clothes and even weapons. After 1900, when tourist traffic increased on reservations, bead-working increased to create pieces for sale. Bead weaving is still popular today around the world, as supplies are readily accessible.

Rocaille beads come in a wide variety of colours and finishes and are available from 1.3mm in diameter to 6mm. The inside of the glass bead is a different colour than the outside. Traditionally, it was silver, but now it's available in a variety of colours. Although all rocaille beads are seed beads, not all seed beads are rocailles; the difference is in the glass construction of the rocaille beads. The outside sheen, either clear or iridescent, creates a unique finish for each bead.

Bead weaving is the primary use for rocaille beads. Bead weavers use looms to thread beads, and the end result is a tightly woven piece of jewelry. For bigger pieces, a loom isn't needed, and the bead work is called needle weaving. These pieces can decorate clothing or items around the house.

Rocaille beads were made in Southern France and were widely used in Singapore and the other Straits Settlements such as Penang and Malacca for the purpose of beading, such as beading slippers, wedding pillow ends, betel set mats and other paraphernalia associated with Baba and Nyonya culture. The Straits Chinese referred to the beads as 'manek potong' which mean cut beads. It always came strung in bundles of ten and were peddled by the travelling haberdasher known as the 'klentong' man. The term comes from the clanging of his hand held drum, which signalled his arrival as he went around the neighbourhood selling items like thread, needles and beads.

Picture 1
The colourful rocaille beads from my collection.

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Picture 5
A clearer look of the tiny beads by using macro lens.