“Give me a bead that’s wrapped in joy; find me a bead to carry my grief.” Ghanain poet Ama Ata Aidoo
Ghana has a long history of bead usage and bead making.
This beautiful video takes you into the world of glass beads of Ghana and the cultural value of beads in Ghanain society. and includes interviews with Mr Cedi one of the best known bead makers in Ghana.
How the beads are made
Glass beads are made from recycled glass. The glass is gradually broken down and ground by hand into a powder. Beads are fired in kilns made from termite mounds. Transluscent beads are fired at a higher temperature than the opaque beads. Images are painted onto beads with a plant stalk using a mixture of coloured glass powder and water before being fired for a second time. After firing the beads are allowed to cool for an hour after which they are polished by rubbing them forcefully on a stone with a mixture of wet sand.
The Cedi Bead Factory is the best known bead factory in Ghana. It is possible to stay there and do a bead making course. https://www.tripsavvy.com/cedi-beads-from-ghana-1454473
We use many of these handmade beads in our jewellery and love them for their irregularities as much as their raw beauty. The amount of creativity and labour that goes into the creation of each one deserves our respect. And the journey from their humble origins in the villages of Ghana via markets and individual traders by land and sea until they arrive in our studio to be incorporated into African Baroque textile jewels must be full of stories that we can only begin to imagine.