Zulu Inspired Beadwork Weaving Techniques and Projects

In Zulu Inspired Beadwork, bead master Diane Fitzgerald shares her expertise on Zulu beadwork with 25 stunning projects, celebrating the culture of this indigenous population.

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In the last decade, there has been a growing worldwide interest in South African beadwork. In Zulu Inspired Beadwork, the first book devoted to the beading techniques used by Zulu women, bead master Diane Fitzgerald shares her expertise on Zulu beadwork with 25 stunning projects, celebrating the culture of this indigenous population.

Begin with an introduction to Zulus and their beadwork, an inside look at the importance of beads in this South African culture, and the many beading techniques-some of which have never been published until now-used by Zulu women to create adornment. The author shares several dozen unique beading techniques garnered from years of visiting South Africa and countless hours spent examining-and dissecting-Zulu beadwork.

Next move into projects inspired by the author's visits to Africa, including netted diamond earrings, a netted triangle and swag bracelet, zigzag chain, and a Zulu wedding necklace. Techniques include netting, wrapping, fringing, braiding, and weaving. Projects are illustrated with easy-to-follow diagrams and supplemented with helpful hints. Readers will find gorgeous photographs of original Zulu beadwork juxtaposed with the author's interpretation of the design and techniques. Part how-to, part history, part travelogue, Zulu Inspired Beadwork is a beading journey in a book.

Reviews: "It's a stunner: her best yet. This book is a marvelous illustration of the inventiveness of beaders and what can be done with those beautiful little seed beads."-Bead (UK) magazine

Table of Contents

Foreword (Richard Green)- Ethnologist and Collector, Birmingham, England

Introduction- Zulu beadwork is multifaceted and has been studied, written about, and exhibited for cultural, aesthetic, and historic reason. However, I believe this book is the first to be devoted to the bead weaving techniques used by Zulu women. The skill and intricacy exhibited in Zulu beadwork is unlike that of any other culture I have see. -Diane Fitzgerald

Zulus and Their Beadwork- Beadwork is deeply embedded in the culture of the Zulu people of South Africa. It is unique and distinctive in its colors and patterns, and particularly in its structure.

Zulu Beading Techniques- On the following pages, you'll find instructions for the many techniques I discovered on my journey into the world of Zulu beadwork. I've included a photograph of the original Zulu pieces from which I deciphered the weaving methods along with instructions for contemporary projects.

  • Flowerette Chain- The Zulu Flowerette Chain is often the class favorite when I teach Zulu techniques.
  • Spearhead Chain- While this pattern looks symmetrical, each side is worked differently.
  • Lace Leaf Chain- The Lace Leaf Chain is worked in two rows.
  • Zigzag Chain- Diane found this Zigzag chain on a necklace supporting a bead-covered horn tip.
  • Ladder Chain- This is another typical "looped" Zulu technique, one that may be mistaken for tubular netting.
  • Tri-Leg Chain- Look at this chain from the end and you'll see that it has three legs that stand out from the center like a Y.
  • Square Tube- This chain looks great worked in one color or with two highly contrasting colors. It is a highly popular chain among Zulu beaders.
  • Triangle Tube- This delightful chain yielded a surprise when I took it apart.
  • Slinky Chain- This chain is a variation of the Square Tube and the Triangle Chain.
  • Double Weave- This chain is reproduced from a Zulu armband made of white, blue, red, and black beads.
  • Wrapped Rope- Wrapping a rope made of tightly rolled cloth with beads is a simple and quick way to make a beaded bracelet or necklace.
  • Netted Triangles and Swags- This graceful design, made of triangles and swags, can be made into a necklace or bracelet by varying the spacing.
  • Switchback Chain- The author's husband named this piece "switchback" because it reminded him of the steep mountain road they took to Machu Pichu, the famed ruins in Peru.
  • Bow Tie Chain- This piece is a variation of netting.
  • Trefoil Chain- This is a deceptively simple piece to create.
  • Hexagon Netting- Hexagon netting is found in many types of Zulu beadwork.
  • Netted Diamonds- This design was inspired by an old Zulu belt made with netted diamonds of black, white, and red seed beads dangling from a netted band.
  • Popcorn Stitch- The Popcorn Stitch is made with all size 6 seed beads so it goes fast and is fun to make.
  • Fingo Chain- The Fingo or Mfengu people are a subgroup of the Zulus who live in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This bracelet pattern, which is derived from a Fingo Girl's Belt, is worked in two layers.
  • Zulu Love Letter Pins- The Zulu Love Letter pin is probably the most widely known item of Zulu beadwork.
  • African Netting Stitches- The following two projects are worked with adaptations of an unusual stitch of Zulu origin.
  • Ngwane Fringes- The Ngwane, a subgroup of the Zulus, make densely beaded capes and aprons with row upon row of a variation of brick-stitch fringe on fabric.
About the Author

Diane Fitzgerald is a bead collector, jewelry designer, and the owner of Beautiful Beads in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has traveled to South Africa to study Zulu and Xhosa beadwork and to meet beadworkers and beadmakers. She is the author of eight beading books including Netted Beadwork, Beading with Brick Stitch, and The Beaded Garden (all from Interweave Press) and writes frequently for Beadwork, Bead & Button, and Jewelry Artist.

SKU: 08BD1

Author/Speaker/Editor: Diane Fitzgerald

Format: Paperback

ISBN 13: 9781596680340

Number Of Pages: 128