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Beads, beautiful beads

posted by Karen McKevitt on Fri, Mar 11, 2011
in At the theatre , Our shows

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Our Hoag Theatre Store boasts some new items exclusively for the run of Ruined, and they’ve proven so popular we can barely keep them on the shelves! What are they? Handmade necklaces and bracelets featuring beads hand-rolled from recycled paper. This stunning jewelry is made by members of the Acholi tribe in Northern Uganda.

New Photo 1

When the staff first saw photos of the necklaces and bracelets a month or so before Ruined opened, we went crazy for them. I’ve been nearly fanatical about handcrafted items, so I especially couldn’t wait until the first shipment came in. And being nearly fanatical, I wanted to learn about how the beads are made, and about the women and men who make them.


First the beaders select their paper from recycled magazines, posters, and the like. They consider the color of the paper as well as the pattern. Color and pattern may not seem important, but consider how many beads it takes to make a triple-strand necklace with one dominant color and a few contrasting colors. The beaders then cut the paper and place thin wire across one end. Then they start rolling, very very tightly. They finish off each bead with a coat of varnish. A piece of jewelry can take up to two weeks to make.*


Berkeley Rep hooked up with Alliance for Africa to sell this jewelry to our patrons. While many different groups make beads and jewelry to sell, the ones in our Theatre Store are made by the Alliance’s five-member beading group named Lacan Pekum (a poor person never gives up in the struggle). Each member has survived kidnap and torture; through their work with the beading group, they can support their families.

The people who make this jewelry are indeed artists, and we can feel good about supporting a worthy cause -- and showing off such a striking necklace or bracelet. I’ve already purchased an earth-toned double-strand necklace, and I can’t wait until the next shipment comes in!

The Hoag Theatre Store is open before and after each performance of Ruined, and during intermission. Come see this beautiful jewelry!

* has a page describing the process of bead-rolling, which was my source for describing it here.

Photos: The people in these photos aren’t necessarily members of Lacan Pekum. The photographer of the second and third photos is Charles Steinberg (©csteinberg2007).



Those beaded necklaces are wonderful. Love that they are made in Africa.

A big thumbs up for using African products.

Tiffany @ Prayer Necklaces

Tiffany Antonius | Sat, Mar 12, 2011

I've seen a lot of Africans whose families have been suffering from hunger. I hope they too can work like that for a living so they too can help their families. As this will help Africa of their struggle for survival...

Leslie Edmonds(secretstojewelrymaking) | Thu, Dec 15, 2011

Handmade necklaces and bracelets from the efforts of Africans are very amazing. Actually that kind of livelihood would be a great help for them to at least survive with their condition. They are quite a good artists and I think this talent could bring them to success in little ways. Thanks for posting this.

Katherine Wagner (jewelry making whiz) | Sat, Jan 7, 2012

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