Benjamuna's Blog

Stories…. with a touch of India….

More beads… May 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 7:29 pm
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The challenge with making jewellery of beads, is that you need a lot…. Because there is always something “missing”. Too few of the same kind, for example. Not the right colours – when you  just got an idea of a colour combination or a special design. The wrong size…. Not enough metal beads, often used in between other beads to create a vintage look. And so on and so on… And right from the outset, you need basic tools. String, or wire and locks.

Keeping beads….

It’s easy to make a bracelet of string. You simply thread beads to a string – about 18 centimeter –  and tie a knot…. The knot must be tied in the right way though; left over right, right over left… and a little glue. I have learnt it from YouTube!
Maybe it looks more proffessional with a wire and a lock. On the other hand – I’m never able to close a bracelet on myself. I take a shower every day, after bicycling to work and I almost always wear a bracelet. So I need a collegaue to get ready…. Another thing is that a bracelet made of string is very flexible, one size fits (almost) all….

A bracelet made of memorywire.

Another very easy way to make bracelets, is to use memory wire. It goes round and round…. and you can cut it as short/long as you want. You must always start by securing the end with a special technique. Securing the other end, when you finish the bracelet, takes more patience. But it’s a quick method, and a fun one as well. And it always looks very good, and moreover – one size fit all!

So far, the best bead shop I’ve been in to, I found on the famous Magazine Street in New Orleans. Simply called The Bead Shop. We took the bus, almost to the far end of the very long street, and the bead shop was an old white house with many rooms. Alladins cave…. When you suddenly find yourself in a place like that, you must go hunting for treasures….

Two bracelets made of string.

When I visited Mumbai a year back, my friend Joan took me to a Bhuleswar market to look for beads. I had been doing research, and I was sure to find Indian glass beads exactly here…. I even had the exact street. To look for special goods in a Mumbai market is very tiresome; you have to fight the heat and the crowds every little second. Joan was sweating, and  I must say, being very patient. I was hanging on, thinking that my plane went to Europe that evening, so we didn’t have all the time in the world. And it all went of in a bad way as we struggled to find a taxi driver who would take us the crazy maze of Bhuleswar….

We went from shop to shop, Joan asking for glass beads…. going here and there – but I wasn’t all to happy with what we eventually found. Indeed we found cloisonne beads, which are expensive at home, but… no. I will have another go in November. The trouble with buying beads in India, is that it is very often based on wholesale. I still have “a million” metal beads bought in Jaipur a couple of years ago, I needed – say a tenth of what I had to buy… But I paid a fraction of what I’m paying at home.


The bracelet above is partly made from beads picked up at Mardi Gras in New Orleans last year. I made it for my colleague and friend Mansi from Bombay.

Another way of buying beads is going to flea markets and buy jewellery – which I then take apart. Last summer I found a long, beautiful necklace with heavy glass beads and metal beads, and the price was give away…. A treasure, – and I have already made one bracelet out of some of the beads. Another way of getting beads, is to look for jewellery 70 percent off ordinary price in shops like Indiska. I take them apart and reuse them. It’s much cheaper than buying beads piece by piece…

Some very nice handmade beads….

When I decide to make a bracelet, I always have an idea. But very often I end up with something different. It’s the same whne I’m making cards by lettering. The ideas change under way.
In early June I will travel to Chichester south of London and learn more… with a bag full of beads!

Elephant charm…

Always looking for boxes to keep beads…; these are little food trays from Delta Airlines!


Benjamuna cards… May 3, 2012

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I have been making cards for many years. Even so, I have a stack of cards bought from whereever I go in the world. I’m looking for three types of cards: with butterflies for my Swiss friend Nathalie, with old/antique maps – also for Nathalie (and myself…) and those with bicycles. The latter can be hard to find. Butterflies are more or less everywhere, the card industry hadn’t survived without butterflies…

A card for every ocasion….

My own cards are made from photos of flowers, for the most part. When I go to garden centres, I always look for flowers that I assume will look good on photos. I have tried to make good photos of poppies, a favourite, – but no luck really. Another favourite is water lilies, but they are sometimes hard to find in my area.  I know of a pond in the arboretum outside Sandnes, but it’s all about being there at the right time… Last summer, I found the water lilies at their best, but it was raining. Still, I was happy with the photos….

Water lilies in the rain….

I have never really calculated the price of one card, although I do sell from time to time.  In the age of digital photography, the photos itself are not very expensive. But I’m not always able to find the right blank cards in Norway.
Last summer I visited Germany, France and Switzerland – the paper shops (I always google before I go….) are faboulus. Quality and colors – they know how to make them in these countries.  So when Nathalie comes to Norway, I place an order… Good quality blank cards can be expensive, and then there is the work involved of course…

When a colleague passes away, my company has certain routines. My job is to make a “protocol of condolance”. It’s a card with a photo,  and along with a photo of the departed (if possible), a burning candle light – this is all placed on the reception desk so that people can write  their name and maybe some words inside the card. The card is then given to the Family, after the funeral. I often use the same card, a Spanish marguerite with a rain drop, a tear…

I have a collague who is a passionate collector of berries…. especially mountain cranberry. More than she is able to handle, seems like…. So we have made a deal; we swap: I get berries (which I turn into jam) – and she gets cards in exchange!

Last summer I discovered an area – not far away from my house – full of Foxgloves. Fantastic they were. So I have quite a few cards with Foxgloves right now (see below).
And there is also a small Indian collection (also below). I met the little girl in Khondaran last year, it was impossible to take my eyes away from her, so beautiful and so grave…. It’s a favourite portrait!

For the protocol of condolance.

Last summer I spotted almost a field of Foxgloves not far from my house. Every shade… white, pink, lilla….

I tok this photo in Khondaran, I shall never forget the girl’s face….


Indian textiles May 2, 2012

Filed under: INDIA — benjamuna @ 5:18 pm
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Why is India a shopper’s paradise…. Among other things; the irrisistable beautiful, colourful textiles….

In the book I’m reading right now; Planet India by Mira Kamdar, she writes about retailing in India. And tells the story behind FabIndia. Every time I go to Mumbai, I visit FabIndia in Kala Ghoda: A symphony of colours spread over three floors and a quiet cafe – with exellent coffee – as well. They sell clothes, all kinds of textiles and other stuff for your home, organic food, organic personal care… FabIndia was in fact founded by John Bissell, an American who came to India in 1985. He fell in love…, with both a woman and Indian handicrafts.  Qute understandable! FabIndia is now run by his son William.

A big, beautiful woolen shawl from FabIndia.

I have many Indian shawls… The word shawl is in fact the Persian word for “a piece of wollen clothing that you wrap around yourself. ” The first I bought, and also one of mye dearest, I picked up in Cochin, state of Kerala. Black wool with golden embroidery. It’s always diffiult to chose among “a million” beautiful samples; the patterns, colour combinations – it’s endless and overwhelming.After many visits to India, I have now chosen quality before quantity. Shopping from the street markets is cheap, the haggeling is fun and the exciting feeling of getting something really, really cheap is always there…. But once you step indoors, especially in Colaba, prices leap upwards and so should quality. For the most part I believe I’m paying the right price even when I feel it’s a bit over the top, but you never know….

“Madam, real pashmina madam….” How often don’t you hear these words when you’re around & about in India. I have give up “real pashmina”, I don’t think I have one – I always avoid pashminas because I think you need to be a “conoisseur” to be able to tell right form wrong. Better then to buy a real cheap one because you really liked the pattern. It’s the same as buying silk; in Vietnam and Thailand you are always offered “pure silk” – but then the trick is always to carry a lighter. If the treads melt, it’s synthetic. If they just disappear, like hair, it’s the real thing. Or is it….? Well I have been cheated, and I’m not the only one. So when I’m affered “real pashmina” I’m at a loss…

Some years ago I discovered Maspar just behind the Taj Mahal Palace in Colaba. Quite a big store for home furnishing: colours…. quality…. I wanted to revisit in 2010, but alas, the shop was gone. It wasn’t until last year, when I sat in the car from the airport to Colaba that I spotted Maspar under the bridge at Kemp’s Corner. So I went back a few days later, just to disover that the shop had shrinked considerably. The shop assistant told me that after the terror attack against Taj Mahal Palace had made safety precautions in the area extensive – and thus clients had vanished.My best shopping tip? go and have fun………..and buy something for your mother and sister as well!