My Order Menu The African Fabric Shop  Powdered Glass Beads
+44 (0)1484 850629

Contact Us

Powdered Glass Beads

Recycled glass beads, handmade in Ghana

Our colourful glass beads are made from recycled powdered glass by artisan makers in the villages around Koforidua, Ghana.

Some beads are made of layers of powdered glass mixed with dyes and poured into moulds; others are handpainted with delicate designs.

We buy our beads directly from the makers and at the weekly bead markets in Koforidua and Krobo-Odumasi.

More: About recycled glass beads

About recycled glass beads

Around the world, beads have been made from glass for centuries. When European traders first went to West Africa, they found a ready market for their glass beads, especially those from Italy.

Today, Ghanaian bead makers are keeping the bead tradition alive. They use recycled glass - including bottle glass - to create wonderful, colourful beads for both local and international bead lovers.

In the villages around Koforidua and Krobo-Odumasi, bead making provides much-needed employment, as entrepreneurial master bead makers teach apprentices their skills and techniques.

Making recycled glass beads

The bead artists use a variety of techniques, but the basic concept is simple: glass + heat = bead!

First, recycled glass is manually pulverised with a mortar and pestle into a fine powder.

After adding ceramic dyes, the powdered glass mix is poured carefully into clay moulds. A cassava stalk in the centre creates the hole in the bead.

Then, the prepared moulds are fired in a 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 beadmakers' most expensive material.

The intense heat of the fire fuses the powdered glass into a bead, still glowing orange as the mould comes out of the kiln. Some beads are then painted with a mix of glass, ceramic dye and water and re-fired.

After the beads cool, they are polished in a concave stone dampened with a bit of water. 

Bead designs

Some bead designs are based on old trade beads imported from Europe. Some designs date back to before European influence.

However, most bead designs are relatively modern. The bead makers are constantly innovating and competition is keen to create new and appealing designs.

The bead market in Ghana

After stringing their beads, the makers head for the weekly bead markets in Koforidua and Krobo-Odumasi.

We buy most of our beads directly from the makers, either in their villages or at the market. While we do have some favourite makers, we try to buy a little bit from as many makers as possible, spreading our business to benefit the most number of makers and their families.

Magie Relph buying beads in GhanaMagie Relph 'talking beads' in a hill village near Koforidua, Ghana.
 
Filling bead mould with recyecled glass powder in GhanaFilling bead moulds with recycled glass powder mix.
 
Firing recycled glass beads in the kilnFiring recycled glass beads in the mud kiln.
 
Handpainting recycled glass beads near Koforidua, GhanaHandpainting recycled glass beads near Koforidua, Ghana.
 
Florence Marty bead maker GhanaOur friend Florence Marty, master bead maker, at Koforidua bead market.

Video: Preserving Ghana's Bead Culture

Painting recycled glass beads Koforidua GhanaPainting recycled glass beads: near Koforidua, Ghana
Multi-buy saving - Mix 'n' Match

Any 6 for the price of 5
Applies to all £2.25 packs of Bottle Glass, Powder Glass, Ntaka Glass, Plastic, Shell and Bone beads.


Krobo Treasure Bag
image for Krobo Treasure Bag
£9.70TBA019
Large Powder Glass Mix
image for Large Powder Glass Mix
£6.00BPW901
Medium Powder Glass Mix
image for Medium Powder Glass Mix
£4.50BPW902
Small Powder Glass Mix
image for Small Powder Glass Mix
£4.50BPW903
Kente Mix
image for Kente Mix
£4.50BPW934
Small Counters Mix
image for Small Counters Mix
£2.25BPW904
Small Speckles Mix
image for Small Speckles Mix
£2.25BPW905
Small Stripes Mix
image for Small Stripes Mix
£2.25BPW906
Small Colour Drops Mix
image for Small Colour Drops Mix
£2.25BPW907
Mini Ntaka Colour Mix
image for Mini Ntaka Colour Mix
£2.25BNT905
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW101
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW102
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW103
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW108
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW110
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW111
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW112
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW113
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW114
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW117
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW120
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW121
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW122
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW124
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW135
Large Handpainted
image for Large Handpainted
£3.00BPW136
Large Powdered Glass
image for Large Powdered Glass
£3.00BPW137
Medium Handpainted
image for Medium Handpainted
£2.25BPW125
Medium Handpainted
image for Medium Handpainted
£2.25BPW127
Medium Handpainted
image for Medium Handpainted
£2.25BPW128
Medium Handpainted
image for Medium Handpainted
£2.25BPW130
Medium Handpainted
image for Medium Handpainted
£2.25BPW131
Medium Handpainted
image for Medium Handpainted
£2.25BPW132
 
The African Fabric Shop uses cookies. For more information see our privacy policy.