All across Africa, bone has been carved into beads for centuries. The tradition continues to this day. In Kenya, skilled craftsmen carve and shape recycled cow bone, then use a wax resist batik process to create wonderful African designs.
Our unique bone beads are made by a co-operative style group of craft producers in Nairobi. They call themselves 'The Victorious Youth Group' - a fitting name for such a friendly and enthusiastic bunch of entrepreneurs.
They buy sacks of scrubbed cow bone (and sometimes camel) from the local abattoires. Then, they cut and shape the beads into various designs using electric saws and grinding wheels. Some beads are etched by hand, but the majority go through a batik process.
The makers paint melted candle wax onto the surface of the bone bead to create a resist. Then, they dip the beads into a solution of potassium permanganate, which tints any unwaxed bone dark brown. After washing off the wax resist, they polish the batiked beads to a shiny finish.
As a visual clue to the size and scale of our beads, we use 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.