Going tribal

I’ve neglected my antique assemblage work of late because I have found a new love – tribal jewellery.


I’ve long loved old, grungy, rusty, scratched, pitted, holey, old and ancient things, and have a nice little collection of random beads and components along these themes. I really admire a few sellers on Etsy who make jewellery in the modern, tribal, bohemian, gypsy style. It’s a style that works well for summer and the warmer months. It represents a carefree, eclectic adventurous style. I am greatly inspired by tribal.

When I got into making jewellery in this style I realised that there was not a great difference to what I had been making before, with antique assemblage. I’m taking a collection of random components, such as old trade beads, bone beads, metal components, wire components and combining them together to spin a new story.

I’ve spent the past week making earrings, while I wait for a new supply of suitable beads to arrive. Some are still on their way but I have also started making some tribal style bracelets, and started a few necklaces. I’m getting to use a lot of techniques I have learned over the years – all in the one range.

I’m having a great time creating rusty finishes on lucite beads, hammering and bending wire to create earrings, using various methods to create lovely green and blue patinas and incorporating some stunning original components handmade by other artisans.

Here’s some of what I made this week, with more to come soon.


The above are called Oliver Cromwell – not strictly tribal but still made using a combination of completely unrelated components including vintage brass, French chandelier glass, Victorian skull beads and artisan earwires. I reckon the glass beads look like an Elizabethan collar.


The above were a joy to make, from hammering out the copper wire into the dangles to selecting ancient Mauritanian glass trade beads for the centre piece. I really love those old glass beads, and coincidentally I went to Mauritania in the late 1990s. It’s a place that is mainly desert and very windswept and desolate. It was a very intriguing place to visit and not many people who go to Africa make it to Mauritania.


These long dangly rusty earrings were great fun to make. I rusted up the metal bars the affixed beautiful teardrop glass beads made by Etsy seller Havana Beads. A little bit of patina chain and nicely contrasting yellow beads and voila!


My favourite part of this new direction is to take a piece of wire and oxidise it, hammer it and shape it until you get something like the above earrings. They are made entirely from copper wire, with the addition of 19th century French sequins that shimmer a lovely peacock green in the light.


Finally, to end today’s tribal treat, are these brass earrings, made quite simply by spooling brass wire and adding more lovely glass dangles from Havana Beads.

I will be getting back to the asseblage next week because I have the annual Ballarat Vintage-a-Fair on the 21st of September. It’s a great market where sellers of vintage clothing and accessories gather in the lovely country town of Ballarat. It’s a very busy market, and well worth a visit for any vintage enthusiasts.

I will be starting a new shop for my tribal designs, so as not to confuse things with my assemblage work. I will also be adding some new pieces to my assemblage shop – namely a new ring and some more ephemera bracelets.

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