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Bone Beads

Recycled bone beads from Kenya

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.

Bead size and scale

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.

Shaping recycled bone beads Nairobi KenyaShaping recycled bone beads: Nairobi, Kenya
Multi-buy saving - Mix 'n' Match

Any 10 for the price of 9
Applies to all £2.35 packs of beads. Your discount will be applied automatically at the checkout.

Bone Animal Pack
image for Bone Animal Pack
image for Ostrich
from £1.35BBB501
Guinea Fowl
image for Guinea Fowl
from £1.20BBB502
image for Elephant
from £1.35BBB503
image for Tortoise
from £1.35BBB504
image for Lizard
from £1.35BBB505
Large Giraffe
image for Large Giraffe
from £1.35BBB506
Small Giraffe
image for Small Giraffe
from £1.35BBB507
Long Snake
image for Long Snake
from £1.35BBB508
Small Snake
image for Small Snake
from £1.35BBB509
image for Zebra
from £1.35BBB510
image for Porcupine
from £1.35BBB511
image for Gecko
from £1.35BBB512
Ashanti Doll
image for Ashanti Doll
from £1.35BBB521
image for Hut
from £1.35BBB522
image for Maasai
from £2.25BBB524
image for Shield
from £1.35BBB525
Round Mask
image for Round Mask
from £1.35BBB532
Tube Mask
image for Tube Mask
from £1.35BBB533
Pipe Mask
image for Pipe Mask
from £1.53BBB534
Small Mask
image for Small Mask
from £0.72BBB535
Classic Mask
image for Classic Mask
from £1.35BBB536
Batik Pipe
image for Batik Pipe
from £1.53BBB101
Bone Bead Basics White
image for Bone Bead Basics White
Batik Box
image for Batik Box
from £1.53BBB102
X Brown
image for X Brown
from £0.72BBB103
X White
image for X White
from £0.72BBB104
Disk Star
image for Disk Star
from £0.72BBB105
Disk Spots
image for Disk Spots
from £0.72BBB106
Small Lozenge Brown
image for Small Lozenge Brown
from £0.54BBB107
Small Lozenge White
image for Small Lozenge White
from £0.54BBB108
Disk Brown
image for Disk Brown
from £0.54BBB109
Disk White
image for Disk White
from £0.54BBB110
Etched Square Brown
image for Etched Square Brown
from £0.54BBB111
Etched Square White
image for Etched Square White
from £0.54BBB112
Large Etched Lozenge
image for Large Etched Lozenge
from £1.10BBB113
Large Rectangle
image for Large Rectangle
from £1.10BBB114
Half Moon
image for Half Moon
from £0.54BBB115
Two Circles
image for Two Circles
from £0.72BBB116
One Circle
image for One Circle
from £1.10BBB117
image for Toggle
from £0.72BBB118
Square Hole Brown
image for Square Hole Brown
from £0.72BBB119
Square Hole White
image for Square Hole White
from £0.72BBB120
Star Lozenge
image for Star Lozenge
from £0.72BBB121
Spotted Lozenge
image for Spotted Lozenge
from £0.72BBB122
Giraffe Lozenge
image for Giraffe Lozenge
from £0.72BBB123
Zebra Lozenge
image for Zebra Lozenge
from £0.72BBB124
image for Leaf
from £0.72BBB125
Giraffe Leaf
image for Giraffe Leaf
from £0.72BBB126
Batik Ball
image for Batik Ball
from £1.53BBB128
Small Carved Bone
image for Small Carved Bone
Medium Carved Bone
image for Medium Carved Bone
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