Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to make a mala

 have been making malas for years now and something that I get asked A LOT is how do you make a mala. To be honest, it is really simple. You need a bit of time and patience and of course the right supplies. 

 For me when I was starting out buying the supplies was the easiest part. I was living in Guangzhou, Guangdong or sometimes called Canton in China. Guangzhou has some amazing markets, especially for jewelry. There are some markets that are the size a five mega sized wal-marts stacked on top of each other, just selling boxes, bags, ribbons and other packing supplies. Its overwhelming, you can loose days in there, but you always find exactly what you are look for. (And most of the time a lot more!!!) 

Well, I started going to the traditional or religious market, near the jade markets in Guangzhou. I went with my husband, who is also Canadian and between the two of us and a Chinese English dictionary we were able to find out what we needed, where to start and what to do. 

 This is what we learned.....For a mala necklace because the stones are heavy its best not to use a stretch string. If you do, when you wear the necklace it will be pulled down and there will be gaps in the necklace where you can see the string and it doesn't look so great. Use a thick non stretch cord or a thinner string and double or triple string the necklace. Some people worry about the size of the necklace, but because there are so many beads the necklace will be very long and fit over your head, even if you use small beads. 

 The next problem a lot of people have what beads to use. Most malas are made from a stone bead. The Dali Lama always uses a brown Tiger Eye, so do many people in China. It give a very traditional look, especially with a red tassel. I have made malas from every type of bead imaginable stone, pearl, lava, wood, coconut, shell, turquoise, coral, glass....you name it and I have made a mala from that bead! But, I really like to play with the styles and textures. I tell customers to choose a bead in a color or texture they like. That is always a good start point. And remember that stone beads will be heavier, coconut beads will be lighter and cheaper and to use things like pearl or special gemstones you will need a much bigger budget. 

 After you have chosen your beads you need to pick a three spacer beads, a mountain bead and a guru bead. And remember the guru bead is the one with three holes and can be really tricky to get on right!!! Traditionally these beads are an opposite color from the rest of the mala so they stand out. Often they are a different size or texture so that when you are counting your mantras you can feel a difference in the beads. It really helps you to count and keep track. As I mentioned before the Dali Lama uses a brown Tiger Eye bead for his mala and for the spacer beads, mountain bead and guru bead uses a red coral. The red beads really stand out and also give a traditional feel. But, choose colors you like, textures you like, play with the beads and have fun with the combinations. 

 Lastly comes the tassel or pendant. Again the possibilities are endless! Traditionally in China and Tibet two sets of small beads are hung from the mountain bead. These are called son beads. They can be the same color as your spacer beads or even something different. Tassels are also often used, especially if the mala is not worn often. Many people in China hang their malas in their car, from the rear view mirror, having a long silk tassel looks amazing. You can also add a pendant. I love the traditional pendants such as the laughing Buddha, White Tara or something else important to you. 

If you want to see some examples check http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/shangrilacraft/2/1/44467// 

 For some ideas and inspiration check here to see all of the malas have have been working on. http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/shangrilacraft/1/1/15440// 

If you are starting out making malas, have any questions or anything leave me a comment or send me an email at shangrilacraft@gmail.com I'd be happy to help!

5949 Tiger eye and red coral, similar to the mala the Dali Lama wears. A very traditional mala. 

5952 I made this mala with wooden bodhi beads that are HUGE, about 1.5cm. It's not really the most wearable mala because of the size of the beads and the tassel, but it looks Amazing!

5955 A simple 8mm black agate bead mala bracelet and whtie turquoise spacer beads. For this one I didn't use a mountain bead or guru bead. I like the white-gray marbelling effect in the white turquoise beads, so I used one of them instead. 

5960 I had made this mala originally as a bracelet. I had someone contact me and ask if they could buy a matching set, bracelet and necklace together. So I made a matching necklace and WOW, they look amazing together!

5967 These two I made for a wedding gift for one of my best friends back home in Canada. For hers I used pearls and lava beads and the spacers and I reversed the beads for his. 

My Trial to test if Dzi beads are Lucky or Not! (on going blog)

My Trial to test if Dzi beads are Lucky or Not! (on going blog)

A few days ago I had a customer  email me with some questions about dzi beads and it really got me thinking. He was asking what Dzi beads were best for his Chinese animal sign. 
To explain, according to the Chinese Horoscopes, depending on the year you are born, you are a different animal. I am born Feb 1st, 1981. So, I should be a Chicken. But, we have to follow the Chinese calendar so, I am actually a Monkey. The same as my husband who is born August 6th, 1980. 

Monkey- 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004
The number of Dzi eyes is - 1, 5, 6, 7, 11, or 18
My Chinese friends have told me that certain years or animal are more  preferred than some other signs. For example, year of the Dragon is supposed to be very lucky. If you have a family member who is a Dragon they will bring the family wealth and lucky. So, when year of the Dragon comes around there are A LOT of families trying to have babies!
Also, some animals are better matches for each other. My husband and I are both Monkey's, so I'm told we are a great match, because like a money we are playful and get along. To quote one website "You can bring out the youth in each other. What a fun partnership!"  And your Animal Sign and can also decide your profession. As, I said I am a monkey and on my list of best suited jobs, jewelry or jeweler! Well, enough said for me.
I asked a friend who knows a lot about Dzi beads, which Dzi beads would be best for a Monkey to wear. He said 1,5,6,7,11 and 18 Eye Dzi beads are best for monkeys to wear. So, today I put on a 7 Eye Dzi bead bracelet and my husband put on a 6 Eye Dzi bead bracelet. We are going to wear the Dzi bead bracelets for a few weeks and see what really happens and if these are the best beads for us to really be wearing. (This is a blog in progress and I will be updating it every few days)

 The 7 eyed Dzi helps one to Achieve Fame, Glory, Perfection, Career, Wealth, Relationship, and Health & Longevity.

8778 My 7 Eye Dzi bead. It's big, bright and non traditional. But, I thought it would be a fun experiment and just see what happens!

Day One
I found a 7 eye dzi bead that we had. It was a loose bead and a really strange color for a dzi bead. It is not a traditional or old or ancient dzi bead, but I thought it would be fun to give it a try. The stone is actually a peachy, pink color and the eyes are a bright white color. The stone is really long, 5.7cm long and 17cm wide in the middle. 

8776 Let the 7 Eye Dzi Trail Begin!!!

I've only had the dzi bead bracelet for a few hours. After the putting the dzi bead on I did drink 3 or 4 glasses of water. But, maybe it's because I had a coffee before and I don't drink coffee often. One idea with the Dzi bead is that they speed up your metabolism as soon as you put them on, so you will become really thirsty within the first few hours because of this. I have a blog about this - http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/blog_post/shangrilacraft/7784/dzi_beads_blood_circulation_and_metabolism 

It is getting quite cold in Shanghai now. Today I pulled out all the winter coats, sweaters and jeans. I washed all the pants and shirts. When I was taking them out of the washing machine, I found 20rmb. Yippee! Then at the bottom of the washing machine I found another 20rmb! I took them to the balcony to hang to dry and ther found another 20rmb! (also wet and washed!) Yippee! Let's see what other luck this dzi bead brings. 

8777 My 'wealth' so far....

新年快乐! xin nian kuai le! happy Chinese New year!

This weekend is Chinese New Year or Spring festival. This year is the lucky year of the horse. I have already seen some AMAZING billboards and pictures of red and gold horses. 


I have been asked a few times this month what is the best and luckiest dzi bead for horses to wear. Here are all the animals and the best dzi beads for them to wear....

(just remember that just because your animal suggest you wearing a certain bead, it doesn't mean that you can't wear another numbered eye. the best rule is to go with your gut instinct when choosing your bead- it chooses you!)

“This is the animal that hides in your heart.”
Year of the -
Rat – 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996
The number of Dzi eyes for you is – 8, 18,or 21
Tiger – 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1994
The number of Dzi eyes for you is – 8, 18, or 21
Ox – 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997
The number of Dzi eyes for you is – 8, 18, or 21
The number of Dzi eyes for you is – 8, 18, or 21
Rabbit – 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999
The number of Dzi eyes for you is – 3, 4, 9, 13, or 18
Dragon – 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000
The number of Dzi eyes for you is – 3, 4, 9, 13, or 18
Snake – 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001
The number of Dzi eyes for you is – 3, 4, 9, 13, or 18
Horse – 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002
The number of Dzi eyes for is -1, 5, 6, 7, 11, or 18
Goat – 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003
The number of Dzi eyes is – 1, 5, 6, 7, 11, or 18
Monkey- 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004
The number of Dzi eyes is – 1, 5, 6, 7, 11, or 18
Rooster – 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005
The number of Dzi eyes is – 2, 10, 12, 15, or 18
Dog – 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006
The number of Dzi eyes is – 2, 10, 12, 15, or 18
Boar – 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007
The number of Dzi eyes is – 2, 10, 12, 15, or 18

Famous People wearing Dzi Beads

Jewelry, actors and the red carpet just seem to go together so well. So, here is an on going list of  Famous People Wearing Dzi Beads......

The famous Actress Eva Huang wore a stunning dzi bead necklace to the 68th Venice International film Festival opening ceremony. The necklace was estimated to be worth over 100 million USD.

New Gemstone Healing Bracelets

I'm happy to tell you that we now have some new bracelets.  Gemstone healing bracelets and I love them!! I put some amazing bracelets together using different gemstone combinations depending on their healing properties. 

I have bracelets for love, money, weight loss, calming, addictions, power, protection, wealth, success, career advancement and grieving. 

Here are a few of my favorites...

For money, success and career- 

For weight loss- 

For addictions-

For calming (body and mind)-

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tibetan Horse Festival

Tibetan Horse Festival

Tibetan Horse Festival

Summer is one of the most amazing times to visit Tibet. People who live in Tibet love summer because of the Horse Festival. There are a few that are well worth the trip up there. 
The Litang horse Festival is one of the most well known in Tibet. The horse festival is held in August and takes place Ganzi, Litang. Litang is called High Town because of its altitude of 4133 meters. The festival takes place in the grassland called Maoya, which means 'flat place as a bronze mirror. The festival is held when the grassland is the greenest and the flowers are in full bloom. Families set up their round white tents and stay for the 10 day festival. 
The racing horse are highlight of the festival. They are often dressed in bright colors, embroidered belts,  decorated saddles and lots of bronze bells. The races include trekking, riding skills, long distance but the most anticipated is the horse jumping. The horse jumping is when the rider almost jumps off the horse and hangs under the belly of the horse upside down or standing on the back of the horse while the horse is running. T
This is a photo from the Litang horse Festival, the horse jumping competition. The man on the horse has not fallen from his horse. He is competing in the horse jumping competition. The riders hang off the side of the horse, until their hands touch the ground. Some of the riders can hang under the belly of the horse and other can stand on the back of the horse while the horse is still running. 

Litang Horse Festival

Another Tibetan horse festival that is the Gyantse Horse Racing Festival.  The festival is held in either June or July and this festival began in 1408. During this festival horses and riders try many of their different skills. These include racing, archery and shooting. 
 Tibetan horse festival

Bone Hair Combs

Bone Hair Combs

Bone Hair Combs

Every city you go to and in every Chinese gift shop you visit you will always see a large box of combs made out of bone. I never really understood the idea of using bone to brush your hair, but again, I started asking a lot of questions. 
A long, long time ago, think ancient China, the best combs were made from bone, mostly fish bone. Some of the nice combs were made from antelope horn, elephant tusk or goat horn. These bones and tusks were carved and polished until they were perfect combs. And, because they are made of bone or tusk they were anti static and also heat resistant. 
Once the bone was selected the bone was carved into a comb shape and each tooth was then carved, filed and polished, all by hand. This is an 18 step process that makes a perfect comb that will not snag, rip or split the hair. 
Most of the combs now in China are made from Ox or Yak. They have an amazing color and some of the sales girls in the shops will also tell you that using these combs will make your hair gown faster, thicker and shiner.