Marigold is the name of a co-operative specialising in loomed beadwork, based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Established in 1992, Marigold produced items such as headbands, chokers, purses and belts for local and overseas markets. Since 2011 they have collaborated with Bulawayo-born, Johannesburg-based artist Joni Brenner to make the hand-loomed necklaces featured on this website.
The signature Marigold necklace is a pure continuous loop of loomed beadwork. Whilst the basic structure or format remains unchanged there is an explorative creativity that unfolds within this established parameter – to date more than 65 shifts to the design have evolved. The technical skill has a flawless quality not always associated with handwork and combines with constant design variation within the maintained form of the endless loop. Both these qualities define the product.
Marigold necklaces are made in a range of lengths and widths, each taking anything from a full day to a full week to complete. The extra-length variety gives options for wearing them wrapped twice around the neck.
The colour of the warp-thread as well as the colour of the two-ply thread used for the beading itself influences the overall look of the finished necklace. White beads loomed onto red look different to those loomed onto black or purple. When the beads are transparent or translucent, as many of them are, the weft threads running through the beads create an additional colour-cast as well. From working with these possibilities, the beaders make choices about the beads they will use in combination, which warp and weft threads they wish to use. Each necklace is a new endeavour, another opportunity to try something else, and each represents a series of time-rich melodic processes and deliberations
A single ‘standard’ necklace contains between 4 800 and
5 000 beads, about 600 lines of improvisation.
The work represents an ongoing exploration of the creative possibilities within a tight set of parameters
– beads, thread, loom.
The pace and rhythm of the making – a repeated and perfected persuasive action – along with ever shifting colour and pattern combinations yields objects of adornment that far from being stale are vibrantly alive: repetition is not the same as replication.
Though the work is hinged on a repeat-action process, it unfolds in a deeply improvised way, one design giving rise to the next and one combination of colours prompting variations. The potential for continuity is built into the design principle of making, which is rooted in looking for small changes waiting to be made and effecting constant shifts – the width of the necklaces, the ‘jumps’ in the variations on the pattern themes, and completely novel designs.
Improvisation, different from having a plan of action, has to do with responding attentively, allowing for and also delighting in the unexpected, and with keeping on going. The production of these necklaces by their makers is time-consuming and it is daily: repetitive yet never mechanical