Saturday, November 04, 2006

Remnants of Timbuktu

Finished the necklace last night, after nearly two years! I guess it was about time! Unfortunately, all of the photos of the full piece were terribly and fuzzy, so I'll have to re-photograph it properly tomorrow morning when the light is better.

This piece is a 20" long necklace, created from square stitched components that are linked together with silver jump rings. Each piece is embellished with brick stitch triangles, grey AB druks, and colored pressed glass pyramids. The idea for the design came from one of my favorite old books on ancient jewelry. When I had originally sketched the design, I had noted "ancient English links" on the page, but when I looked again at the photo a few months ago before embarking on the finishing of the piece, I was astonished to see that the components pictured in the book were actually of Tuareg origin, noted to be found in Timbuktu! After that, I finished creating the components and the necklace with an entirely different vision in mind. I may have a few more embellishments to add, now that I know the true origin of the original pieces.

I did some research on Timbuktu. It's fascinating. The city of Timbuktu is located in the present day country of Mali, in Africa, and has been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. In 1990, it was listed as an UNESCO world heritage site in danger because of desert sands. Until 1591, it was a major African city and had acquired vast wealth due to the flourishing trade in salt, slaves, gold, ivory and other treasures that were sought by the Europeans. While the city has a rich history of war and conquerers, today, most of its residents live in poverty. The name Timbuktu has become so ingrained in the collective unconscious that a recent poll of young Britons revealed that over 60% of those surveyed believed Timbuktu to be a "mythical place", and 34% did not believe that the city even existed!

This is another design that I am submitting to Interweave Press for their consideration, and I will also be submitting it to various bead shows to teach.

Now, on another, somewhat sadder note, I received and read the last installment in the Adrian Mole series today. Sue Townsend has finished her writings on the life of Adrian Mole with "Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction". Whether you are for the war in Iraq or against it, this book will move you. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but suffice it to say that I damn near cried more than once while reading it, and this is going to become one of those books that I will re-read for the next year or two. Or three. Adrian and his family have all grown up or grown older. He attends his class reunion. His best friend Nigel has gone blind. And his sister Rosie is away studying nanobiology at University. While I finished the book in a little under five hours (my husband is going to really tease me about that!), this is one to take with me when I take a hot bath tonight and mull over its pages. I feel like the writer of the series, when your characters want to continue to live, yet you know that once you stop writing, the story is over. I can only hope that somewhere, in the imagination of Sue Townsend's many fans, that Adrian Mole and his family will continue to live.

With that in mind, I'd better wrap this up and get back upstairs to cooking dinner. Cooking has become one of the great loves of my life since I became a vegetarian. Tonight's dinner, made especially for Tom when he comes back from spending 14 hours out in 35 degrees: roasted eggplant and garlic soup; soft lentils with carmelized onions and tomatoes; kasha; and whole grain bread. I should open a restaurant!

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