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September 28, 2010

Beads, Beads, Beads Part 2

In part one, I talked a little about the history and importance of bead making in Ghana. I had the opportunity to visit TK Beads where I watched the two processes for creating beads from recycled glass.

In the first process, the glass is ground into a powder. This powder can then be dyed to whatever colour is required. The powder is placed in a clay mold and heated in a clay oven. The bead is then hand painted.

In the second process, the glass is crushed into chunks. The pieces are arranged in a clay mold. Depending on the bead being made, different coloured glass will be used. These are then melted in a clay oven.

Here are photos of the two processes for making beautiful bead jewelry.

Both processes start with glass. Many bead makers in Ghana recycle scrap glass, wine bottles, window panes and so on. Different glass coarseness, as well as the type of glass used, produces different effects.
Glass bottles waiting to be made into jewellryA variety of glass bottles which will be crushed or ground and made into beads

Locally dug clay is used and formed to make molds. The broken or ground glass is placed into these molds and thus the beads take shape.
clay containers for melting glass and shaping beadsclay molds for melting glass and shaping beads

Next, the glass must be prepared. Here the two processes diverge.

Powdered Glass Beads as pictured in the bracelets shown above are made of finely ground glass.

A pane of glass, such as the one Florence is holding is ground into a fine powder.
Florence shows a broken pane of glass about to be ground into a powder

glass being groundThe pane of glass being ground

Depending on the bead being made, the ground glass may be dyed or left the natural colour of the glass.
A smattering of ground glass, now a smooth powder and mixed with blue dye

At TK Beads, twigs from the cassava plant are placed in the mold to create the hole for the beads. When the glass is heated, the cassava sticks dissintegrate, but not before the hole is formed in the bead.
A twig from the cassava plant is placed in the middle of the mold and the mold is filled with blue powdered glass

The clay molds are placed in the kiln which is also made of clay.
beads melted in the kilnsGlass melted in the kilns

The bead created from melting the glass powder is then placed on a skewer and hand painted to produce the beautiful beads shown here.
hand painting powdered glass beadsSteady hand painting powdered glass beads

Hand Painted Glass Beads

The second process for making beads is very similar, but it begins with crushed glass such as those displayed below.

Crushed glass for bead making

This crushed glass is placed in the clay molds similar to those used for the glass powder and melted in the kiln. Different coloured glass may be mixed to created patterned beads.The beads are then removed from the kiln and cooled.
Crushed glass beads are placed in a clay hollow, washed with water and allowed to cool

Beads are collected, cleaned and made ready for beading.
A collection of beads made from crushed glass, ready to be made into beautiful jewelry

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