Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” is the last all-out party day before Lent. The tradition of “throws” or beads tossed from floats dates from the 1920s. Originally the necklaces were made of Czech glass up until the 1960s when plastic was introduced.
For many years I combed the flea markets and junk shops of New Orleans collecting these vintage strands of beads, lovingly restringing them and imagining the street parties and music infused with their history.
I was particularly fascinated by these strands that had survived the throws and their original destiny as a kind of disposable favor. There’s a chaotic beauty in their random patterns, and now that they have new clasps they seem to be just waiting for the joyful noise of the next Fat Tuesday.