Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Hasta la vista Barcelona

Today we're packing up and saying hasta luego to Barcelona, one of the most vibrant, alternative and individualistic cities in Europe and the birthplace of Africa Atelier. I think each piece which I have made here has a little something of this beautiful city. Next stop: Stockholm via Milan. Hasta luego!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

It's inspiration Tuesday...

Eunice, Eunice and Alice, three lovely ladies and small entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses. Through an organization called Kiva, I'm giving them an interest free loan to increase their stock, which will be reimbursed at the end of the loan term. Well done Kiva for thinking up a simple and effective way for investing in Africa! Kiva and its entrepreneurs are my inspiration for this sunny Tuesday!

Have a look here for more information. (

Monday, 22 March 2010

African Summer

Marc Jacobs s/s 2010

African prints are making it big this summer! From the catwalk to small independent brands, African prints are finally being discovered and worked into cool, eclectic apparel which can be worn far away from the equator. The key is in the carefully crafted silhouettes which transform tribal into trendy!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Bohemian Belle wrap around necklace

A piece from my Bohemian Belle collection, crystal chandeliers from Bohemia used during the African bead trades strung on a strand of clear micro seed beads. Classic & timeless.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

L'Afrique C'est Chic

Pretty bikinis made with West African bantu textile by swimsuit label Bantu Wax. I love finding new brands that work with African products with a twist.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Tree of Life

Africa Atelier's spring collection of snake chain necklaces with African crushed glass beads and vintage Bohemian faceted beads. The crushed glass beads are from Ghana, made from broken and unusable scrap glass which is finely ground, placed in a mold and baked in clay kilns until the glass fuses and takes on a semi translucent appearance. The Bohemian beads are also known as African Trade Beads, brought to Africa by European traders to be used as a form of currency and exchanged for local commodities.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

It's inspiration Tuesday...

... so I thought I would share this beautiful photo collage of Lamu made by photographer, film maker, anthropologist and wanderer Sarah Thomas. Lamu is one of Kenya's oldest living towns and one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa. To follow Sarah Thomas' adventures have a look at her blog

Monday, 15 March 2010

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Wedding Beads

These beads are so tempting they should be edible! The kaleidoscopic assortment of colors is worn together by Fulani and Peul women from Mali, traditionally at wedding ceremonies. They were produced in Bohemia from the early to the mid 1900s and taken to Africa through the colonial trading routes to be exchanged for local goods.

I bought them in Mali on a bead scouting mission after reading that it is the best place to buy beads in Africa. The main markets were a total disappointment, kilometers of stalls brimming with Chinese plastic toys and buckets or tourist bits and pieces. So we ventured inland on goat-packed buses, had tea with the Tuaregs, trekked amongst the animistic Dogons, slithered down the Niger river on a big canoe and finally arrived in a small bustling trading town on the river Niger. A few days of enquiring brought us to private houses of bead dealers where we spent entire days, picking out beads, chatting, eating, playing with their children but mostly bargaining! Heaven!

Friday, 12 March 2010

B Beautiful, this one's for you!

A crimson, cherry red and tangerine colored amulet of vintage Bohemian glass trade beads strung on a snake chain. These beads were produced in Bohemia, brought to Africa by European traders and used as a form of currency to be exchanged for local commodities. The variegated tangerine and white bead is known as a wedding bead because it is popularly worn at weddings in Mali by Fulani and Peul women. The crimson red round tabular bead is carved with Islamic crescent and stars, originally inlaid with gold color that has completely worn away. These beads were produced especially for Islamic pilgrims who were entitled to wear them once completing their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Champagne tassels on the beach

A little preview of something new. Tempted by a shop I discovered in Barcelona with four meters of wall exhibiting all types and colors of tassels under the sun, I'm now officially addicted to tassels! This champagne colored necklace is my first trial, which I took for a frolic on the beach. I'm thinking of making a mini summer tassel collection and venturing outside of my African bead territory... I guess rules are made to be broken!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Inspiration of the week

I've been a fan of Peter Beard's photos and journals of Africa for years. To me his pictures represent the power of this great continent, in all its beauty, destruction and decay. Dignity, grace and splendor meshed in with raw, visceral degradation.

Monday, 8 March 2010

If it were summer...

If it were summer this is what I would love to wear with my Africa Atelier crystal chandelier wrap around necklace, but its snowing outside so I'll make do with this virtual polyvore version!

Chunky Boho Brass

Three pieces from my Africa Atelier chunky boho brass collection; clustered assortment of West African brass beads mixed in with African glass, Bohemian glass or Bohemian crystal chandeliers.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Juicy Blues inspired by Zanzibar

Africa Atelier juicy blues bracelet. These beads are made in Ghana, West Africa, by recycling broken and unusable scrap glass. The glass is finely ground and baked in clay kilns giving the beads a raw and semi translucent texture. They come in the most beautiful shades of blue, stolen it seems from the colors of the Indian Ocean!

Ini mini miny moe by Africa Atelier

Bohemian Belle Crystal Chandeliers

One of my favorites from my Africa Atelier new spring collection. I found the old Bohemian chandeliers in Mali and have never seen them since. They are somehow decadent, being worn away by years of use on the African continent, but retain their grandeur in the design and luminescence.