In Ghana, beadmaking is a longstanding tradition. The intricate, labor-intensive process begins by washing glass bottles of all types and colors and then sorting them by color. Next, the glass is crushed with a mortar and pestle until it becomes a fine powder. The powder is then carefully sifted so that only the finest grains are used. To create different colors, ceramic dyes are added to the glass powder. Then it is poured into molds made of termite clay. The molds are coated in kaolin, a talc-like natural substance, to keep the beads from sticking to the molds as they are fired.
The molds are then placed in traditional termite clay kilns and fired at 650 to 800 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Once the beads have been fired, the artisan uses an awl to make a hole in the center of the bead so it can be threaded. A second awl is used to turn the bead within the mold and shape it as the glass begins to harden. The beads are then cooled for at least one hour.
When the beads emerge from the kiln, they look white due to the firing process. Once they have cooled, they are washed and polished. This is done by placing the beads in a smooth stone bowl and rubbing them with sand and water for 10 to 15 minutes until their vibrant colors are revealed. Finally, the beads are strung and the bracelet is ready to be assembled.
To view the beadmaking process step by step, please check out our Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/beadthechange.eco/