By Sarah Corbett
Ancient depictions of Egyptian Women often feature patterns which suggest lozenges. Dresses which have been reconstructed from beads found at Burial sites suggest that these ancient Egyptian artworks represented clothing made from beads.
A similar construction of beads are also found in nets which covered mummified bodies.
The beads used to create both the dresses and the nets were made from a material called Faience. the dress designs often showed status with the addition of shells and golden pendants.
Faience was made in various ways, but the most common was a self glazing method which is known as efflorescence. By mixing alkaline water soluble salts with powdered quartz, lime and a colourant ( Egyptian examples used copper rich elements such as powdered malachite as a colourant) The dry ingredients were mixed with water to create a paste which was then either hand modelled or more commonly shaped in clay molds.
Faience was used decoratively, especially as an adornment, both for the living and the dead.