Last August, Ali and I poured over vintage beads at an Ethnographic Market, captured by the patina of old shells and coins and brilliant blue glass. And then we saw these humble tear-shaped beauties, light and gentle and the hue of spring rain . . . and we were hooked. Job’s Tears.
I hauled them home and invited jewelry aficionados, Harry and Tiala, to Charleston to consult. Tiala knew them well - Job’s Tears are native to her home in Nagaland, India where one variety is consumed as a highly nutritious food, and another, harder-shelled type is used for ceremonial jewelry. Back to India she went with Ali’s designs, where Tiala oversaw the drilling and emptying of each bead - then had it cleaned, threaded and strung. She made bronze medallions to scatter through the tears, or for those who preferred a cooler shade, silvery coins. She taught women how to weave the strands together at the back, and fix a large shell at the closure, a Naga signature, if you will. When she sent samples back for our approval, our team went mad.
You’ve got to love a plant that gives itself over for a healthy meal, (tasting a lot like farro), is beautiful enough to wrap around your neck (so light it feels lovely), and holds spiritual leanings - loved in rosaries, preferred by holy men in India, and found on ceremonial items of significance. It makes me want to celebrate the humble things in life.
Here’s to Tiala for her heroic efforts (drilling and scooping out the seeds, she tells me, is NOT easy work). Here’s to humble things made lovely. Here’s to eyes that seek out simple beauty. Here’s to the hands and imagination that make radiant what is common and real.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker