Powder glass beads are not typically considered African trade beads, even though some may call them that, but I have a great fascination with them so I figured I would write a bit about them.
Ghana is known to be home to some of the greatest bead markets in Africa. Koforidua, Agomanya, and Cedi Bead Factory are just a few of the popular destinations for beading tourists. At these markets, you will find extravagant selections of Ghana powdered glass beads. The most popular kinds are recycled glass beads, Krobo beads, and sandcast beads.
Growing up as a total hippie, and raised to be green-friendly and environmentally conscious, obviously my favorite are the recycled glass beads. The reason they are so fun is because they are made using crushed recycled bottles. The bead maker will collect used bottles from local restaurants and bars, such as Coca Cola, Sprite, and Beer bottles. They bring them back to their workplace, and proceed by crushing the glass. Next, they melt the crushed glass and place the molten material into clay molds. They use the stem of a leaf to create space for the hole, and continue by baking the beads for several hours.
These beads come in at least 50-100 colors, and each color is made using either different types of bottles, or sometimes with some sort of natural coloring. There are solid colors, like green, blue, and occasionally rose, but there are also often mixed colors. For example, my favorite is a swirl of green, brown, and clear.
These beads typically run for about $15 per strand for the standard 10mm-12mm size. Occasionally, you can find the extra large size, in which the beads are about 30mm in diameter, but these are harder to come by…and far more expensive. They can run anywhere up to $50 per strand.
On my next post, I will gather some cool creations I’ve spotted on Etsy, using these awesome Ghana recycled glass beads.