ART & ARTIFACTS
SHELL & SEED NECKLACES
submitted Kit Porter Van Meter
DESCRIPTION: Shell & seed necklaces
SIZE: average 2 or 3 feet long
MATERIAL: snail & sea shells, Tangen Tangen seeds, Job’s Tears, red seeds (looking for names)
LOCATION ACQUIRED: Rota, Northern Mariana Islands, Micronesia
PHOTO: Rota#15 68-4-20A Girls making multi-strand necklaces in Kit’s house
Item(s) collected by: KIT PORTER VAN METER, PCV ROTA, NMI 1967-1969
Information, pictures, and story submitted by Kit Van Meter, May 14, 2021
"My first memory of making necklaces is when we climbed up to the water cave on Rota with a group of students and gathered snails from under the leaves of the luscious plants growing outside the cave. We went back to the house and prepared them and later used some thread I had to string them into necklaces. Another time, women friends helped me gather some little snails for necklaces when we went up the river to catch shrimp.
In March 1968 I described another trip to my mother on a audio tape:
One Saturday one of the girls and I and some little brothers and sisters went collecting the snails. We went early in the morning when it was still damp out and the snails were under the leaves. We just picked these off the leaves and then we came home and we boiled the snails in water and then we took all the insides of the snails out with a needle, and then we washed the shells and we let them dry in the sun. And then we picked some Tangen Tangen seeds, which had come ripe at that time. That's the brown seeds. And then we started making the necklaces. We've also made some with some red seeds.
On another day I described:
So girls have come over and we've made some necklaces. ... I'm experimenting with doing three, four or five strands. If you send a box sometime, you might just put in a spool of nylon thread. I have some but not very much and I think it's probably better to use for the necklaces than regular thread.
Frequently, girls would come and work with me in my home and we would make necklaces. We enjoyed visiting and this was a way for their families to help me with daily chores since I was teaching, working in the library and community and did not have my own children to help."