Archive for African Beads and Bead crafts

Tis the Season…for Red Gifts

Just in time for the holidays – my Red and Cream collection. I originally created these for a Delta Sigma Theta event (crimson and cream are their colors) I showcased at and the colors were so infectious that I was inspired to continue with the theme for Valentines Day and beyond.

Following is a preview of items in my Red/Cream or Crimson/Cream collection. They also make great holiday gifts.

Let me know what you think.

Goodies from My Ghana Trip

No matter how many times I travel to the Continent, I can’t resist perusing the local market for beads.  I am a bead-a-holic after all:-).  On my trip last month, I visited some of my usual stomping grounds as well as some new ones in Ghana.

Many of you may know that Ghana is known for its powdered glass beads as well as metal beads using the lost wax method.

There are fundamentally three main types of powder glass beads found in Ghana – most of which is produced in the Krobo region of the country: translucent glass, powder glass, and painted glass. All three types are made from finely ground glass, primarily broken and unusable bottles and a great variety of other scrap glasses. As such, they are also known as “recycled glass beads.”

Women pounding glass into powder and sifting

Women pounding glass into powder and sifting

The beads are made in clay molds in which a stem of a cassava leaf is placed. The mold is filled with finely ground glass that can be built up in layers in order to form sequences and patterns of different shapes and colors. Once the coloring and pigment are added to the glass, the molds are fired in a kiln until the glass fuses. During firing, the cassava leaf stems burn away, leaving a hole for stringing. Certain powder glass bead variants, however, receive their perforations after firing, by piercing the still hot and pliable glass with a hand-made, pointed metal tool.

Molds holding glass beads before and after firing

Molds holding glass beads before and after firing

Cooperative facilitator and I check out the finished product

Cooperative facilitator and I check out the finished product

Below are examples of the three main types of recycled glass beads found in Ghana that I obtained on my latest trip:
Translucent glass beads: Fused glass fragment beads which are being made by fusing together fairly large bottle glass or glass bead fragments. These beads are translucent or semi-translucent and receive their perforations, as well as their final shapes, after firing.

Recycled Glass Beads - Translucent

Translucent Powder Glass Beads

Powder glass beadscomposed of two halves (usually bicones, occasionally spheres) that are being created from pulverized glass. The two halves are being joined together in a second, short firing process.

Powder Glass "Bodum" Beads

Powder Glass "Bodum" Beads

The “Painted Beads” or “Writing Beads,” are made from finely ground glass, with glass decorations that are “written” on and fused in a second firing.

Painted Beads

The multi-colored beads are the "painted" beads; the solid colored are "transparent."

For additional information on how powder glass beads are made, please visit the following site that produces and sells glass beads:
Global Mamas: http://www.globalmamas.org/Info/10-BeadProduction.aspx

Ghana Craft, based in Senegal, also sells beads produced in the Ghana (Krobo) tradition and they have great illustrations on how powder glass beads are made: http://www.ghanacraft.com/bead-making.htm

Please visit both and support those who continue this African handmade tradition. In the meantime, I’m going to have a ball designing with my new beads.

In Time for Fall: A Renewed Commitment to Roots

September is almost here and it’s been a while since my last blog post. Oh, I had every intention of writing at least once a week. But life got in the way. I’ve been preoccupied with the marketing aspect of my RAM Jewels, I’ve been agonizing over why sales aren’t as good as I would like, and I’ve been reevaluating my strategy or lack thereof in my attempt to rectify the situation. I know this is a continuous process for business in general and for micro-entrepreneurs in particular.

When I first started making jewelry, my intention (aside from having a needed creative outlet) was to utilize beads made by African cooperatives in the hope of supporting them and at the same time increasing awareness of their respective businesses and crafts as well as to promote the craft of handmade beads through my utilization of them in my own work.

Though the incorporation of recycled glass beads, sandcast glass, metal beads from the lost wax method, and other ancient beadmaking methods has always been an important part of my designs, I expanded my focus to include an array of gemstones and other types of beads from around the world. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But I find myself returning to why I wanted to make this a business in the first place. My fall collection tries to capture this. Here are some of my recent creations that are my signature style and that I hope to build upon in the future. Just click on the photo for detailed information on the item.

Nubian Sunrise Necklace

Nubian Sunrise Necklace

Desert Flower  Necklace

Desert Flower Necklace

Turquoise Blue Necklace

Turquoise Blue Necklace

Necklace: Moussa's Gift

Necklace: Moussa's Gift

Summer Love Necklace

Summer Love Necklace

Orange Passion Fulani Wedding Necklace

Nefertiti's Collar

Please let me know what you think about the designs. I welcome your comments and thoughts.

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