Oh hi there!
I’m pretty excited to share this story with you because it's on one of my favorite goodies: Beads! You will never catch me with an earring or necklace, but whenever you see me, you can bet on anything that I will have some beads on.
My history with beads dates back to my childhood with waist beads; then it grew to wrist beads, ankle bracelet, and finally bracelets. Beads are an integral part of my identity and I really cannot envision life without them (all exaggeration intended).
Anyhow, you can tell that I’m a pretty loyal user of recycled African glass beads so you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered yet again, that all the bracelets I bought throughout my teenage years were actually not made in Africa but marketed as African.
The story gets better, though: when it was time for me to stock beads on Dziffa.com, I wanted to make sure that you would not experience the disappointment I did. My team and I traveled all the way from Accra to Krobo (the Eastern Region of Ghana) to visit one of West Africa’s biggest bead maker, Mr. Cedi and of course get you some goodies as well :)
The first step to making beads is, of course, gathering loads of recycled glass bottles. You select the color of bottle based on the color of bead you want to make so having a variety of colors is always good. Mr. Cedi is pretty popular so people from all corner of the country visit him to drop off their used bottles.
Before I forget, I would like to introduce you guys to Alima, our teacher for the day and the daughter of Mr. Cedi. For those of who don’t already know, Mr. Cedi has been making beads since he was 7 years old and has traveled the world with his beads.
Cedi Beads is one of biggest tourists attractions in Ghana, people all over the world come to experience the process of bead making so we were very honored to have a one-on-one with Alima who recently graduated with a degree in management and working very hard scale her dad’s empire.
Once you select the bottles, you get to pounding. This is NO CHILD'S PLAY. If you think pounding fufu is hard, imagine using a 10 point metal stick to pound bottles till they are powdery. The labor is no joke. The pounding of bottles alone can take up to three hours, depending on how experienced you are. A rookie like me might take all day to do it but after some time, you’ll be a pro at it. Or so I think :)
The next step is pouring the powdered glass into a clay plate with holes in them. The holes form the shape of the beads. Once you pour the powdered glass in the holes, you place a very tiny palm stick in the middle of the powder to create holes in the glass beads (the same holes you will pass the thread through to join the beads together to make a bracelet).
As soon as you pour the powdered bottles into the clay holes, you can begin getting ready to bake. You literally have to bake the powdered bottles until the melt. Oh, I forgot to mention something very important: you can actually mix the colors of bottles to get a very colorful bead so at this stage if you mixed the colors of the powdered bottles, they will melt and blend together flawlessly.
The baking takes three to four hours and the temperature must always be very very high. When the baking is finally complete and you have your round bracelet, you take the clay out and air-dry the melted bottles for a few hours. Once the beads are done, you get to the Grand Finale: Cleaning The Beads!
This is clearly my favorite part because I get an excuse to play with sand and water. But on a more serious note, this is no child's play. You have to keep moving your hands back and forth and applying water and sand till the beads are shiny.
I hope you’ve learned a little more about bead making and the process involved with creating all the amazing beads on Dziffa.com. If I was too vague, don’t worry, the video on my trip will be out soon (I’m getting old so my memory is failing me) but I tried my best to give enough spill. You'll have to wait for the video if you want to learn more.
I have good news for those of you who can’t wait to get their hands our recycled glass beads: they are available now. Click here to shop as much as you need.
Dziffa Akua Ametam
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