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Ntaka Glass Beads

Recycled glass beads, handmade in Ghana

These colourful glass beads are made from recycled glass by our friend Yohanes Nahr in Koforidua. We love the variety of colours he produces. As these beads are handmade, sizes and colours are not exact - all part of their rustic appeal.

Bead and pack sizes:

  • 35mm: Sold per bead
  • 15mm: 25g packs, approx 20 beads
  • 9mm: 20g pack, approx 65 beads
  • 7mm: 15g pack, approx 120 beads
  • Waist Beads 3mm: String approx 65-70 cm / 26-27 in, approx 230-240 beads

Bead size and scale

As a visual clue to the size and scale of our beads, we are phasing in a Star beer cap in our bead images. Why Star? Because it's the major beer of Ghana where most of our beads are made. Also, on the buy pages, we indicate approximate bead dimensions in millimetres.

More: About Ntaka glass beads

About Ntaka glass beads

Meet Yohanes Narh: master bead maker

We buy all of our Ntaka glass beads from our friend Yohanes Narh in Koforidua, Ghana. We've known Yohanes for many years. There are other Ntaka bead makers around, but for colour and quality, Yohanes is the best.

Making Ntaka recycled glass beads

Yohanes, his wife Comfort and his daughter Salome work in the shade of an open-air shelter in their village.

Their raw material is recycled glass, which they find themselves or buy from the itinerant glass vendors at Koforidua's weekly bead market. They use all sorts of glass: bottles, jars, windows, almost anything made of glass.

To begin, they smash the recycled glass into sharp shards, which they then grind using a mortar and pestle into a fine powder.

Next, comes the colour. In order to achieve consistency for our orders, we have worked with Yohanes on a specific African Fabric Shop colour chart. Yohanes refers to this chart and his 'recipe book' before mixing the correct quantity of ceramic dye with the recycled glass powder.

Ntaka beads come in several sizes: 35 mm discs, 15 mm, 9 mm, 7 mm and tiny Waist Beads. Yohanes has a variety of clay moulds on hand for each size.

Filling the moulds with the powder glass and dye mix is painstaking work. A cassava stalk in the centre of each bead cavity creates the bead's hole. Yohanes won't waste even a gram of precious glass powder. He uses a feather to dust any excess powder back into his stock bowl.

When the moulds are ready, they are fired in a basic kiln. The kiln is a hollow mound of mud containing old car springs which form a 'grill' to support the moulds. Below the springs is a blazing wood fire: fire wood is the beadmaker's most expensive material.

The intense heat of the fire fuses the powdered glass into beads, still glowing orange as the mould comes out of the kiln. Yohanes uses a pair of awls to rotate and manipulate each bead in the mould, refining and smoothing its shape.

After the beads cool, they are polished in a concave stone using a light mix of sand and water.

Finally, Salome strings the beads for us to collect when we come to the village.

Yohanes and Comfort in their Ntaka bead workshopYohanes and Comfort in their workshop near Koforidua, Ghana.
 
Filling mould with recycled glass powderYohanes fills the mould with recycled glass powder mix and smooths away the excess with a feather.
 
Placing bead moulds into the kilnNtaka bead moulds in the kiln.
 
Salome polishing Ntaka glass beadsSalome polishing Ntaka waist beads.
 

Video: Preserving Ghana's Bead Culture

Removing tiny Ntaka waist beads from the mould: Koforidua, Ghana
Multi-buy saving - Mix 'n' Match

Any 6 for the price of 5
Applies to all £2.30 packs of beads. Your discount will be applied automatically at the checkout.


Colour Mix Treasure Bag Savannah
image for Colour Mix Treasure Bag Savannah
£9.70TBA013
Colour Mix Treasure Bag Desert
image for Colour Mix Treasure Bag Desert
£9.70TBA017
Colour Mix Treasure Bag Oceon
image for Colour Mix Treasure Bag Oceon
£9.70TBA018
Colour Mix Treasure Bag River
image for Colour Mix Treasure Bag River
£9.70TBA014
Colour Mix Treasure Bag Jungle
image for Colour Mix Treasure Bag Jungle
£9.70TBA015
Colour Mix Treasure Bag Night
image for Colour Mix Treasure Bag Night
£9.70TBA016
15mm Mixed Colours
image for 15mm Mixed Colours
£4.60BNT901
9mm Mixed Colours
image for 9mm Mixed Colours
£4.60BNT902
7mm Mixed Colours
image for 7mm Mixed Colours
£4.60BNT903
Waist Bead 3mm Mixed Colours
image for Waist Bead 3mm Mixed Colours
£4.60BNT904
Mini Ntaka Colour Mix
image for Mini Ntaka Colour Mix
£2.30BNT905
Small Colour Drops Mix
image for Small Colour Drops Mix
£2.30BPW907
Coral
image for Coral
from £1.00BNT001
Orange
image for Orange
from £1.00BNT002
Ochre
image for Ochre
from £1.00BNT003
Yellow
image for Yellow
from £1.00BNT004
Red Brown
image for Red Brown
from £1.00BNT013
Brown
image for Brown
from £1.00BNT014
Lime
image for Lime
from £1.00BNT005
Pastis
image for Pastis
from £1.00BNT027
Green
image for Green
from £1.00BNT006
Pale Green
image for Pale Green
from £1.00BNT022
Moss
image for Moss
from £1.00BNT007
Dark Turquoise
image for Dark Turquoise
from £1.00BNT026
Turquoise
image for Turquoise
from £1.00BNT008
Pale Turquoise
image for Pale Turquoise
from £1.00BNT023
Sky
image for Sky
from £1.00BNT010
Cobalt
image for Cobalt
from £1.00BNT011
Purple
image for Purple
from £1.00BNT012
Black
image for Black
from £1.00BNT015
Grey
image for Grey
from £1.00BNT021
White
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from £1.00BNT016
Cream
image for Cream
from £1.00BNT017
Double Cream
image for Double Cream
from £1.00BNT020
 
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