Sibucao Redwood Mala and Jewelry

We’ve been having a lovely…I almost said spring, but I suppose it’s technically still winter. Whatever you want to call it, in typical Pacific Northwest spring/late winter fashion, the weather has been shifting between sunny and downpours at the drop of a hat.

A few days ago, there were enough sun breaks for my boulders to dry out, so I was finally able to take some photos of the redwood mala I mentioned earlier.

Most of my art I can photograph either in the studio or in one of the greenhouses (the greenhouse film beautifully dilutes the sunlight like a giant softbox). But the full-size malas are so large that they need room to spread out.

The best spot I’ve so far found for taking the 108 bead mala photos, both stylistically and thematically, is the boulders that I enjoy meditating on beneath the stars on warm summer evenings.

These two boulders are what are technically known as glacial erratics. During the last ice age, this area was covered by glaciers, which shaped much of our geographic features and brought with them boulders of all shapes and sizes that were left in random spots across the landscape.

I love rocks in general, but I particularly love these boulders because a glacier carried them down and dropped them in the middle of what is now my otherwise fairly rock-free farm field. These twin boulders settled only a foot or two apart and, whether through their glacial travels or the erosion of time, have become quite smooth.

They’re both wonderful for sitting on, and the largest is quite comfortable for lying on. If they’d been dropped several hundred feet over in what is now covered with trees, they would still be beautiful, but wouldn’t be the amazing star watching station they are centered in the middle of a field that is surrounded by trees.

These are some of the shots I took of the 108 bead redwood mala.

Sibucao is a hard wood to photograph since it has an iridescence that doesn’t carry over through the camera. It has such a warm, rich color. I love the feel of redwood malas, and like most wood malas, sibucao redwood malas are very lightweight even as full-size malas.

While the name isn’t as widely recognized, I do tend to call these sibucao malas rather than the more well-known name redwood because the term redwood mala can refer to an assortment of different woods ranging from sibucao redwood to dyed wood to wood harvested from threatened or endangered species.

While its wood has a similar appearance to some threatened species of trees, sibucao redwood is harvested from the prolific Caesalpinia sappan, which is found in various regions of Southeast Asia, China and India.

The wood for these beads came from the Philippines. Sibucao is one of several species being grown as part of the Go Green Philippines reforestation project.

This particular redwood mala uses four different styles of sibucao beads, which are strung on forty-nine strand steel beading wire—the highest strand count normally available. The high strand count doesn’t only make it exceptionally resistant to breaking, it also makes it extremely flexible.

I personally prefer natural cord malas, but I know some of you need malas that can hold up to a lot more wear than the typical natural fibers. This is a workhorse of a mala that will stand-up to many years of regular use.

This sibucao redwood mala is ready to go to its new home and is available here at my Dream Raven Gems Etsy shop.

I also have several smaller sibucao pieces currently available including a redwood bracelet, an African Turquoise and redwood bracelet, and an American Wildhorse Picture Jasper bracelet that includes several sibucao redwood beads from the same lot as the ones used to make the redwood mala.

The redwood bracelet is already finished in several sizes—available for wrist sizes 6.5″ to 7.75″. The African Turquoise bracelet is currently only finished for a 7″ to 7.5″ wrist, and the Wildhorse Picture Jasper bracelet for a 7″ to 7.25″ wrist.

As always, just let me know if you’re looking for a different size, and I’m always happy to customize the fit. Sibucao redwood is such a vibrant and beautiful wood that I certainly look forward to working with more.


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