Rhiannon Griffiths’ Beading Journey

When we heard about Rhiannon’s introduction to beads and beading, this is the song that came to mind.

In her words,

“I was a mere 23 years old, when I, and a friend, Kirk,  flew to Amsterdam, bought an empty VW van, and took a ferry over to England, where my friend had relatives.  We were grateful for anything they could offer to help us outfit our van for camping.  All we had was a backpack full of belongings, including a small gas backpacking stove.  We built a   platform for a bed and had a cabinet put in, and I made curtains for privacy.  We then ferried back to Europe and began a 9-month adventure which took us to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Andorra, Spain, and down to Morocco, North Africa, where we made a base camp at a beach camping ground.  And stayed in that area for the winter.  That was 45 years ago.

This was the beginning of my bead obsession.  (This) is the only picture I have of me and 3 other fellow travelers in 1973 in a remote desert town in the heart of Morocco.  There were rumors of these places where one could find large stashes of “Moroccan trade beads” also known as Venetian trade beads.  I was determined to go find said stashes.

 In this poorly focused and overexposed picture, you can just make out 5 figures around a pile of beads on a dirt floor.  In the left foreground is a blond, long-haired Canadian fellow named Marvin whom we met and with whom we joined forces in Spain.  Not pictured is his brother Wayne.   Standing directly behind him is one of our Moroccan hosts.  To his right are the legs of another Moroccan host.  Moving right, and in the far corner is my head peeking out from behind the crouching figure of my long haired travel companion in the front right foreground.  I wish the picture was clearer.  But it brings back to life my memories of this place and the smell and feel of it.  We spent about an hour here hand picking each bead we wanted for our own stash and then began to haggle over the price to take them home.  I   don’t remember what it cost, but it was (mere) pennies to the dollars they would sell for today.  I still have most of those beads in a wooden box purchased in Marrakesh.

Here is a picture of me at our camping place.

(We blew out the engine of our VW and spent several weeks waiting for auto   parts in Grenada where we then rebuilt the engine with our trusty “Idiots Guide to VW Maintenance”).”

But what has Rhiannon been up to recently?

 Since my last trunk show at Beads at Dusti Creek, I have been obsessed with Double Helix silver reactive glass.  It is just so versatile and so much fun!  And because my chosen guiding word for the year has been, “Mastery” my obsession combines well with “Mastery!”

 Silver glass can be applied to the surface of a bead and when the oxygen is reduced or the propane is increased and the bead is wafted in the tip of the flame, the silver in the glass comes to the surface and just sings silver.  But wait, there is more to do with silver glass.  I can take that same color of silver glass and reduce the surface, creating the silver sheen and then cover it over or “encase”  it with clear, and then voila’ a totally different effect results.  Iridescence or opalescence shows where there was silver before.  Now if you decide to manipulate that color by dragging or twisting a rake through it, those iridescent colors create ethereal swirls, waves, or other results.  My passion has been experimenting with a dozen or so double helix colors to see what effects I can create.

 Living at the coast, I have plenty of opportunities to observe the ocean waves and explore tide pools.  Many times my double helix beads are inspired from the nature around me.  I have been using some double helix murrini in some beads as well, and these create the appearance of a sea anemone. 

A perfect match for sea like beads.


 I’ve also purchased some ring size mandrels on which to make beads.  These have large holes and require heat control of a very different kind in order to be able to keep the bead hot consistently long enough to create the piece.  These are also labor intensive and take anywhere from one hour to 3 hours depending on the piece.  They make a beautiful focal piece that can stand alone, or they can be incorporated in a jewelry design. 

And they make a beautiful napkin ring!

 This year has been challenging to me as I watch the state of the world.  My spiritual practice is ever important to me to stay grounded.  The torch calls to me every day.  And the joy it brings me to create these little beauties is part of how I do my spiritual practice.  Sending them out into the world as little works of art is how I participate in making the connections that we are all one and beauty is inherent in the “All that Is.”

Rhiannon’s Slide-show: