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Video:What Is African Lace?

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African lace is a complex, beautiful beading pattern that you can make yourself. This About.com video will show you how to go about making an African lace pattern with beads.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Is African Lace?

Hi, this is Jolene Star from Bazaar Star Beadery in Ridgewood, New Jersey. I'm here with About.com, and today we're going to be showing you how to make African lace.

African Lace Supplies

We will be using:

  • 1 bag of size eight beads
  • 1 bag of size eight delicas
  • 1 strand of four millimeter black druk beads
  • 1 strand of African Christmas beads
  • African dowry beads
  • 1 spool of nylon cord
  • 1 big eye needle

Background of African Beadwork

There are many different types of African lace and African bead weaving, but one of the things that distinguishes African lace from other types of bead weaving is that there's always a drop element and a diamond shaped pattern. Some African tribes wear the African lace as a collar, others wear it as a headpiece, and others wear it as a waistband. What you'll find with African beaded jewelry is that most African beaded jewelry is made out of very colorful glass beads. 

Creating the African Lace Bead Pattern

The first thing you'll do is you'll put on a series of seed beads: three, one, three, one, three. You will take one anchor bead, two African Christmas beads, and run your string back through the one black bead to create the first drop area. After your first step, when creating African lace, you'll run your string back up through the top beads, add another black bead, circle back around, add some black and begin  to create this diamond shaped pattern.

Significance of African Lace

Beads are significant in many cultures all over the world, and they signify different things for different cultures. In Africa, beads are used as a ritual adornment. You notice that they use a lot of natural materials because that's really all that they have. This one would be a skirt traditionally worn for a ceremony.

This is another example of your African lace in the diamond patterns, but this one here would be used as a loin cloth. You'll also remember that each African lace has a drop element as well. In this African loin cloth, they're using conch shells.

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