Benjamuna's Blog

Stories…. with a touch of India….

More beads… May 9, 2012

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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 beads… February 5, 2011

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I have always had “something” creative going in my life… There has been numerous projects; knitting, sewing clothes, dried flowers, patchwork, calligraphy…..
When I was a teenager I made tunics out of old jeans. I knitted colourful sweaters through high school. When I got my own sewing machine (early twenties) I made blouses – of all things. And they never fitted properly. I came home for Christmas with half made projects and my mother had to come to their rescue. I’m not sure a half made blouse was the most popular item in my luggage…

Making decorations out of dried flowers was another passion for some years. I took courses. I planted appropriate flowers in my garden. I dried flowers. I made decorations, – not always as symmetrical as I wanted them to be. I still have a lot of ceramic bowls in the basement, remnants of numerous decorations. Where did I keep them all? I mean, it’s not as if you send dried flower decorations via mail, as presents…. My house hasn’t seen a dried flower for years……

Then came patchwork. Again – I took courses. I bought fabrics and all sorts of equipment. But I was swearing in front of my sewing machine. Patchwork… well you have to be extremely accurate. I once went to a course with some colleagues, in the 90’s. The teacher thought I was talking too much, and working too little. Concentration has never been my strong side! And after making one really intricate kettleholder I almost fell apart when I realised I had to make one more… Kettleholders always come in pairs….. Exit patchwork, although I must admit some of my Christmas runners came out quite successful!

Then came calligraphy, quite a long lasting hobby. I took courses, I even went to England to attend fantastic summer schools, I got new friends. In between I went to a course and learnt how to make paper. But… it gave me a bad neck. Exit regular calligraphy sessions, but I still use all sorts of pens for cards and letters.

So what now? It’s beads… I guess “bead-mania” has been around for some years and that I’m a bit slow… But it seems like I always need a new challenge and beads came in my way. Last November, when Ram and myself was visiting Jaipur and Udaipur, beads were very much on the agenda. We were going here and there by autorickshaw, or on foot, searching for beads. Ram explaining numerous people what we were looking for. And we found…, in a basement in Jaipur. It was wholesale, so even though I bought 1,5 kilos I didn’t get a WIDE selection. But I was happy and content about whay I got.  Ram’s comment: I’m fed up by beads. Let’s go for coffee.

Bracelet made of memory wire and cloisonne beads.

So I have started. I have taken a course. I have bought the proper equipment. Here we go again………
I have made some bracelets, and to be honest I think my bracelets are better than my patchwork and dried flowers.

Here’s a few examples of Benjamuna Beads…:

The first bracelet I made. Brown and turqoise of course....

So far, the one I'm most happy with. Made by various beads given to me by Nathalie and beads bought in India.

Another bracelet made by memory wire and beads that originally was two other necklaces.

Favourite colours.........


A glimpse of Rajasthan November 23, 2010

Most people who visit India for the first time, do a “Golden Triangle Tour”. Which means Delhi, Agra (to see the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan. I have been to both Delhi and Agra earlier, now I was curios about Rajasthan.

I flew to Delhi 23 October and teamed up with my friend and colleague Ram – already on holiday in hometown Delhi. Sunday at noon we entered a bus that took us to Jaipur, known as The Pink City. The best thing about Jaipur was …… the hotel. The Umaid Bhawan is definately the best hotel I have ever stayed in. The house itself is not really old, but the furnitur, the decor – everything – makes you think of old money. It’s incredible, and not at all costly. I dreamt about a Kingfisher on a beautiful roof top restaurant, exactly what I got!

Detail from beautiful Umaid Bhawan, a hotel gem in Jaipur!

Jaipur has heavy traffic, the roundabouts are crazy. All means of transportation in every possible direction. The old part of Jaipur is painted in pink, thus it’s called The Pink City. So is that why tourists go to Jaipur?
Well Rajasthan has numerous old forts and palaces. After five days in Jaipur and Udaipur I got the feeling we saw them all….

But in between all that history, we were searching for beads. The search took us to back alleys that reeked of the stank of urine. We were talking to numerous people, beads beads beads – where to find? We found… in a basement. And left with 1,4 kilo, simple as that.

Beads, and more beads....

Jaipur is a shopper’s paradise: streets lined with shops selling colourful textiles – and everything else under the sun. But as a tourist you’re constantly attacked from every possible angle, and in the long run shopping doesn’t seem like a very good idea. Walking the back alleys, where the natives go shopping is more fun!

Colours of India.... found in a shop in Jaipur.

Next on the agenda was Udaipur and we decided to take the night bus. A good bus is often known as and equivalent to a Volvo. Good branding, Sweden…. And yes, the trip was comfy enough! Bt we arrived in Udaipur at five in the morning, quite tired and the bus station seemed cold and unwelcoming. Also, it took some time to wake up the hotel: The Krishna Niwas, run by three brothers, two of them artists.

Colorful Rajasthani shoes and slippers.

Udaipur was different from Jaipur. We were staying in the old part of the city, narrow and hilly. Udaipur seemed small, in a way. But when we took an autorickshaw to a Barista – because I desperately needed a decent coffee – and further on to a pizza place called Uncle Sam (because I desperately needed a pizza) – I realised that the city was not so small and cramped after all. But, not unlike Jaipur, with Western tourists just about everywhere.
Udaipur has lakes, and thus some really beautiful views. Hotels market “lake view” hard, but how often did I look out of my window in order to enjoy the meagre lake view? It was nice though, the Picola Lake, and fortunately Rajasthan has had quite a lot of rain this year (doesn’t happen too often) and thus all the city lakes were filled to the brim. Very often the lakes are dry.

Sari embroidery in the streets of Udaipur.

If we were looking for beads in Jaipur, Udaipur took us to numerous shoe shops. Ram’s wife wanted mojaries, Rajasthani slippers. It was fun, the shoes are very colourful and we went to the local markets, not those for tourists. But we did do the City Palace… the heat was intense and we decided that enough was enough! Instead we intensified the search of mojaries.

Our hotel didn’t have Umaid Bhawan’s grandeur, but lots of charm. The narrow building had no lift, we were constantly climbing stairs. The hotel had a small shop selling leather books and binders of all kinds, they were even produced on the second floor. All over the old part of Udaipur these types of books were sold, very nice handiwork. Also, miniature painters seemed to be plentiful, art galleries were everywhere – also in our hotel.

So what was my first, second and third impression of Rajasthan….. If I had to chose between – say – Rajasthan in the west, Kerala in the south and Uttaranchal in the north – Rajasthan would come third. Maybe it was the swarms of tourists everywhere, the dryness and the heat, the overwhelming historical tourist attractions. Well who knows. But I enjoyed every minute of the stay, and if I get the chance to stay at the Umaid Bhawan in Jaipur once more, it would be hard to resist!


My very special colour combination… July 9, 2010

Is it possible to fall in love with a colour combination? Well yes…. But I am in fact a bit shameful to say that it was the Norwegian princess Märtha Louise who brought my attention to the combination of brown and turquoise. She was wearing a dress some years back, can’t remember the details any longer – only the colours! I thought it was an unusual combination, but I got hooked. And – the hunt was on! But I realised I needed a bit of luck. Shops do not swell with brown and turquoise!

I always find what I look for, in India…. In 2009  I visited designer  Geetha Hardasani’s shop in Bandra, Mumbai. When Ida and I visited Mumbai in 2008, we visited her shop, at that time in Colaba. I kept in touch with Jharna, the designer’s daughter, and thus made sure to pay their new shop in Bandra a visit in 2009. I saw the kurta only seconds after I entered the shop. Wow – something brown and turquoise. Before the others had managed to manouvre themselves inside, I was dressed in…. brown and turquoise… And – sold!

I almost spotted this one from outside the Hardasani shop....

I wanted to buy a designer made outfit; a kurta, churidar and dupatta – and went searching through Geeta’s rows of fabric. I chose the best one, the most expensive one (!) with a fantastic dupatta made of a variety of fabric. But the embroidery on the kurta had the colours of…. brown and turquoise…

My designer made wedding outfit!

Close up of the kurta.


In 2009 Asbjørn and I went to Delhi and one day, strolling through the arcades of Connaught Place I saw it from a distance, a tunic of – yes – brown and turquoise. It was only one left, my size, which proves it was meant for me!

Bought at Connaught Place in Delhi, photograph taken somewhere around the Fort in old Delhi. A young girl wanted her photo together with a farangi...

It’s not so hard to find jewelry in the colours of brown and turquoise. Maybe because of the stone itself, the turquoise…. Moreover, I can’t be the only one in the world thinking that this is a great combination!
My favourite bracelet is bought at Arts and Crafts (Norwegian brand), and people often comment on it. But a while back I was thinking; it must be possible to make jewelry by oneself?!!? So I took a course at a bead shop and learnt some tricks… I’m not going to make a home industry out of it, but it’s nice to be able to make something when inspiration hits you…. Beads do not come very cheap in Norway, what I’m now looking forward to is my travel to India later this year. Shopping for beads in Mumbai….. Must be some treat!

Three strands of beads made by myself, beads and colours carefully picked....

These - my favourite bracelets - have everything that I like; the beads, the colours, the antique look...


Last summer our grandhild Claus, now aged 10, known for his high level of justice, realised that everybody had gotten a summer’s gift  except from granddad… He had seen something suitable though, in a shop in Stavanger…. So Asbjørn and I were left to wait in a cafe, whereas he dragged his mother to Ting and bought a case for toothpicks – and what’s more; the colours were brown and turquoise. The young man was very proud of himself; not only was it the perfect present for Asbjørn who can’t live without toothpicks, but the colour combination was such that Anne-Trine could enjoy as well! He proudly stated. A 10-year old to be proud of!

A perfect hiding place for tooth picks!