Challenge of Travel Blog Hop

Erin Prais-Hintz of started the Challenge of Travel blog hop. She asked us to “select a region of the planet that you do not live on and choose an inspiration nation from within that region”. She asked “What one place in the world have you always wanted to visit and why?” We were to research the country and find inspiration for making jewelry.

I chose Laos. I have wanted to travel to Southeast Asia for some time and recently read an article on a boat ride down the Mekong River that sounded fabulous.

According to Wikipedia: Laos, officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. Its population was estimated to be 6.5 million in 2012.[1]

Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang, which existed from the 14th to the 18th century when it split into three separate kingdoms. In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three kingdoms, Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak, uniting to form what is now known as Laos. It briefly gained independence in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but returned to French rule until it was granted autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. Shortly after independence, a long civil war ended the monarchy, when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975.

Laos is a single-party socialist republic. The capital city is Vientiane. Other large cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Pakse. The official language is Lao. Laos is a multi-ethnic country with the politically and culturally dominant Lao people making up approximately sixty percent of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Various Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes, accounting for forty percent of the population, live in the foothills and mountains.

I decided to focus on the Hmong.

According to Lonely Planet “The Hmong are one of the largest hill tribes in the Mekong region, spread through much of northern Laos, northern Vietnam, Thailand and Yúnnán. As some of the last to arrive in the region in the 19th century, Darwinian selection ensured that they were left with the highest and harshest lands from which to eke out their existence. They soon made the best of a bad deal and opted for opium cultivation, which brought them into conflict with mainstream governments during the 20th century. The CIA worked closely with the Hmong of Laos during the secret war in the 1960s and 1970s. The US-backed operation was kept secret from the American public until 1970. The Hmong were vehemently anticommunist and pockets of resistance continue today.”

Read more:

The Hmong are craftspeople in fiber arts and jewelry.

According to: Hmong households acquire as much silver as possible and during New Year all the families’ silver comes out on display. There are three main styles of earrings worn by Hmong women- that shaped like an arrow, with the shaft bent around to form a circle, an elongated S shape, usually flattened with a pointed plug worn through the earlobe and a horseshoe shape with flattened end. White Hmong wear heavy round bracelets with engraved designs and neck rings, which may be solid or hollow. Locks shaped pendants with a variety of designs are also frequently worn, sometimes at the back of the neck rather than the front. These ‘soul lock pendants’ are presented during ‘curing ceremonies’ to lock the restless soul to the body until the appropriate time to die arrives. As the New Year approached in years past, Hmong silversmiths would melt silver bars and necklaces to repair jewelry and prepare new ornaments for the coming celebrations. In the early part of last century, silver was often obtained through melting French silver coins.

I acquired a “soul lock” pendant and used it to make this necklace. I used lampwork beads that I had made, sterling silver beads, and a Thai Hill Tribe clasp.

Check out the armchair travels and inspired jewelry by the other participants:

Name Blog Region Chosen Inspiration Nation
Monique Urquhart Africa Burkina Faso
Niky Sayers Africa Egypt
Therese Frank Africa Kenya
Raychelle Heath Africa Lesotho
Joan Williams Africa Mauritania
Sherri Stokey Africa Senegal
Regina Santerre Africa Seychelles
Raida Disbrow Africa Tanzania
Kristi Wodek Africa Zimbabwe
Sally Russick Americas Brazil
Melissa Trudinger Americas Mexico
Tracy Stillman Americas USA
Sandra Wolberg Asia India
Tanya Goodwin Asia Japan
Susan Kennedy Asia Japan
Beth Emery Asia Japan
Lisa Cone Asia Japan
Tanya Boden Asia Japan
Inge von Roos Asia Laos
Erin Prais-Hintz Asia Nepal
Dee Elgie Asia Phillipines
Carolyn Lawson Asia South Korea
Lisa Stukel Asia Sri Lanka
Elly Snare Asia Thailand
Shelley Graham Turner Europe Austria
Mallory Hoffman Europe Bosnia Herzegovina
Paige Maxim Europe France
Jenny Davies-Reazor Europe Germany
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson Europe Greece
Evelyn Shelby Europe Iceland
Holly Westfall Europe Ireland
Rebecca Siervaag Europe Ireland
Toltec Jewels Europe Ireland
Lee Koopman Europe Ireland
Laren Dee Barton Europe Italy
Cindy Wilson Europe Norway
Kathleen Lange Klik Europe Poland
Shaiha Williams Europe Portugal
Jennifer Justman Europe Romania
Elsie Deliz-Fonseca Europe Spain
Lola Surwillo Europe Sweden
Kim Hora Europe Switzerland
Leanne Loftus Europe The Netherlands
Patti Vanderbloemen Europe The Netherlands
Marcie Carroll Europe Turkey
Lisa Lodge Oceania Australia
Marlene Cupo Oceania Federated States of Micronesia
Ine Vande Cappelle Oceania Fiji
Tammie Everly Oceania Guam
Alice Peterson Oceania Kiribati
Elisabeth Auld Oceania Nauru
Emma Thomas Oceania New Zealand
Susan McClelland Oceania New Zealand
D Lynne Bowland Oceania New Zealand
Denielle Hagerman Oceania New Zeland
Rebecca Anderson Oceania Papua New Guinea
Mischelle Fanucchi Oceania Samoa
Kari Asbury Oceania Solomon Islands
Cece Cormier Oceania Tonga
Emma Todd Oceania Tuvalu
Debbie Price Oceania Vanuatu

About ingetraud

I make lampwork beads and jewelry. My other interests include traveling, reading, hiking, and collecting art and handcrafted items, especially pottery. I have always loved handmade things and have collected hand-thrown pottery since I was a teenager. I have done stained glass and weaving. I had been stringing beads into necklaces for a while when I attended a clay and glass show in Palo Alto. There was a beadmaker there whose work I fell in love with. I bought one bead to make into a necklace and decided I wanted to learn how to make glass beads. I took my first beadmaking class from Jackie Marr in Santa Cruz. After taking another class from Katie Stuart in Santa Barbara I set up my own studio and have not looked back. Beadmaking is like meditation for me. What has kept me interested is that there is always some new technique or color combination to learn or try. I have taken advanced classes from Sally Prasch, Marjorie Langston, Holly Cooper, Shirley Cook, Dolly Ahles, J.C. Herrill, Kristen Franzten Orr, Amy Waldman Smith, Claudia Trimbur-Pagel, Astrid Riedel, Amanda Muddimer, Melanie Moertel, Angela Meier, Gay Massender, Kris Schaible, and Jennifer Geldard. I love combining my love of beadmaking and traveling by taking classes away from home. In September, 2016 I got to attend a bead symposium in Wertheim, Germany. I took a bead lining class and watched many demos. I am married and have one son, age 26. I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains between Los Gatos and Scotts Valley, California.
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24 Responses to Challenge of Travel Blog Hop

  1. mtrudinger says:

    That’s a really interesting pendant, and I like the necklace you have made with it.

  2. Great piece. Very unique pendant.

  3. Cece says:

    Beautiful necklace. Those beads really reflect the complexity of their cultural dress. Enjoy your travels.

  4. Fascinating post! What an unusual pendant. I love the colors that reflect the dress and culture. Great job!

  5. pixiloo says:

    Your lampwork beads are gorgeous and I love the soul lock pendant. The bracelet is wonderful.

  6. Jenny says:

    I was familiar with Hmong fiber arts. The information on the soul lock was intriguing! Your piece is cool!

  7. Lisa S says:

    Interesting background on Laos and its people. The necklace is beautiful 😉

  8. Man, I love a good read! I am truly enjoying this hop – the history behind the people and the countries, and the inspiration by which each designer has created their piece. I love this necklace – your beads look perfect with that pendant. Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. Michelle says:

    Very Unique.. great job.

  10. Mallory says:

    Love that necklace!!!!

  11. Greetings Miss Inge! So nice to travel with you! We have quite a large Hmong population that was relocated here in the 80s so we do get a lot of their culture. I am fascinated by their beautifully embroidered story textiles. I had no idea about the jewelry. That is very intriguing! Thank you for joining me on this journey. Enjoy the day. Erin

  12. Very interesting post. Your lampwork beads are lovely and so is your necklace!

  13. Gorgeous necklace, love that pendant you used! Thank you for teaching us about Laos, I have heard about the Hmong before but didn’t know so much.

  14. Alice says:

    I enjoyed reading fascinating history of the Hmong! The necklace with the soul lock (another fascinating story) is just beautiful.

  15. Emma says:

    Very interesting. I love your take on the inspiration. The beads you created specifically are such joyous colours so much like the textiles, just beautiful

  16. Tanya says:

    These days silver in Laos is only 60% or less but they still make in the traditional ways.After having been there several times I know the relaxed atmosphere really well and they have the BEST beer there EVER.LOL love and Hugs Tanya

  17. Therese says:

    Hi Inge,
    Thank you for taking me along on your trip to Laos. I enjoyed learning about the history of the country, it’s people and cultrue. I love the necklace you made to represent the people and it’s belief of the locking in the restless soul. Beautiful!

  18. Inge, thank you so much for teaching us some of the deeper meaning behind Hmong ornamentation. The story of the soul lock is one I’ve not heard. How wonderful that you have included this type of artefact, along with your beautiful multi-coloured lampwork, in your inspiration necklace!

    Despite being marginalized in their own land, Hmong women became known around the world for their skills with the needle, especially as superb quilters. In many traditional North American quilt-making societies, such as the Amish and Mennonites, Hmong immigrants have found a true sisterhood of the needle, and are highly respected for their fine stitching.

  19. with the colors and textures you captured the people of Laos beautifully, great job!

  20. kristi says:

    Very intrigued by the soul lock. Your lampwork beads are beautiful and very representational of the colors of the people of Laos. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Kashmira says:

    Loved reading about the people of Laos. Thanks for sharing all your research. The necklace does capture their culture beautifully.

  22. Pingback: Second Annual Challenge of Travel blog hop | Inge's Blog

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