And the Bead Goes On: Inside Our Fair Trade Women’s Cooperative

Looking through our Instagram, it is obvious we have an obsession with beads. Laid out on a coffee table or draped across a stack of books on a shelf, they add a just-needed pop of color and texture. Our Recycled Glass Bead Strands are an interior designer’s secret accessory!

Beads have a long and rich history in Ghana, which dates back to ancient times when they were used as the King’s currency. Today, bead making is a vital component of the artisan economy. Our Recycled Glass Bead Strands are handmade by a fair trade cooperative of women artisans in Ghana, whose entire process uses locally sourced and recycled materials.

Glass Bottles

A member of the coop creates each bead using recycled glass bottles, which she breaks apart into small pieces using a granite rock. The artisan pushes the glass pieces through a sieve to remove any unwanted parts.

Clay Bead Molds

In the next step, she places the glass pieces into a clay mold and cooks it in an outdoor kiln. To place the molds in the very hot oven, the maker uses a long metal spatula. Each mold stays in the kiln for about 30 – 45 minutes until the glass has melted into a molten mass.

Once the glass has melted into a liquid, the artisan removes the molds from the kiln one at a time. She then uses a metal spindle to poke a hole through the bead. With a little wiggling around in the mold, the bottom of the bead takes shape. The beads form as they cool for about an hour before she polishes each individual bead until smooth with sand and water on a sandstone. The result is a naturally colored and translucent bead that has been handcrafted from start to finish.

What we love most about this process are the ladies who shape each bead. These artisans are mamas who work to support their families every day creating beautiful crafts rich in cultural history. Their joy is unescapable, and we hope knowing a little more about their process brings a smile to your face, like it has to ours!

SHOP RECYCLED GLASS BEAD STRANDS:

Recycled Glass Bead Strand - Dusty Blue
Recycled Glass Bead Strand – Dusty Blue
Recycled Glass Bead Strand - Tortoise Shell
Recycled Glass Bead Strand – Tortoise Shell
Recycled Glass Bead Strand - Watermelon
Recycled Glass Bead Strand – Watermelon
Recycled Glass Bead Strand - Blue/Green
Recycled Glass Bead Strand – Blue/Green

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