Mardi Gras season may be over, but one Baton Rouge man thinks about Carnival time all year long.
While most paradegoers revel in begging and catching colorful strands of beads for a day or two and put them away, Marcus Ciko works with the beads all year long. Ciko’s hobby of using discarded Mardi Gras beads to make 3-D creations, started as a lark — just to see what he could make by twisting the beads much the same as making balloon animals.
After some practice, he got pretty good at it, using color combinations to create dog bone shapes on necklaces, or twisting strands together to create spirals.
About 16 years ago, he began to wonder if the originality of the beads was a marketable venture.
“I know a lot of krewes are looking for throws that nobody else has,” Ciko said, adding that he pretty much twists beads nonstop from Thanksgiving to Fat Tuesday.
“They’re all hand-made,” he said. Over the years, his bead skills have expanded dramatically, and he’s been able to create new styles of necklaces and medallions every year. A few years ago, he developed techniques that allowed him to make beads behave like fabric, and created a full suit of armor made entirely of beads.
“I call him Bead Man,” Ciko said, adding that he has donned the bead suit, which weighs about 100 pounds, and marched in several parades. The suit was featured on national television, he said. He later created a lighter weight version, along with a wearable Saints jersey, and smaller jersey necklaces.
Though Ciko has sold his creations as throws for some floats over the years, he hopes one day to see them adopted by krewes all over South Louisiana.
But his vision doesn’t stop there. He also has, with the help of an engineer, created a formula for making Mardi Gras beads out of ingredients derived from plant matter, he said, and his next goal is to build a manufacturing center in the Baton Rouge area to make them — he called them BioBeads — right here at home.
“I’m working on a Kickstarter campaign to get that started,” Ciko said.
But in the last few weeks, he was busy making repairs to his Bead Man costume for Mardi Gras 2016.
For information on Ciko’s business, beads or to watch for updates on the Kickstarter campaign, visit Ciko’s website, www.3-dbeads.net.