Nomoda Djaba, otherwise known as Cedi, has a huge smile. His face lightens up when he sees the fruits of his labor materialize into dazzling and colorful beads that will eventually be part of a bracelet or necklace and adorn someone’s arm or neck.
For Cedi, bead making is in the blood. Although his large workshop is well-known in Ghana and employs several people, Cedi started out in the business as a child, working side-by-side with his grandfather. At first glance, the bead-making process appears to be simple, but it takes several years of an apprenticeship and practice to produce one of these colorful and glossy baubles.
Visitors are welcome at the workshop, and Cedi takes them on tour of how he and the other artisans make the beads. Five different types of glass beads are produced, including opaque and transparent beads from recycled powdered or chipped glass and painted beads. They also melt and reform antique chipped and broken beads.
After the glass is pounded into a fine powder in mortar, terra-cotta molds, in various shapes and sized, are filled with the powder. To make the colors of the beads more vibrant and saturated, ceramic mason stains are added to the glass powder. Once the molds are filled, the red leaf stem of the cassava plant is used to form the hole in beads. To form colorful and patterned layers, more powdered glass is added to the mix.
Practicality and common natural and industrial resources prevail in making the beads. The wood-burning kilns are made from termite mound clay, and the molds in the kiln rest on automotive leaf springs that are supported by recycled car axles. The filled molds are set in the kiln, where the glass powder will bake for 20 to 35 minutes at 600 to 800 degrees Celsius until the glass powder melts. After the powder has melted, the molds are removed from the kiln and cooled for approximately an hour. The cassava stem keeps the glass at bay before charring, forming a perfect hole.
When the beads have cooled, they’re picked out from the molds, washed, and strung together as long strands of beads, bracelets, or necklaces. From there they’re ready to be sold at the at the local Odumase Krobo bead market and also to international retailers like 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE.
Now available at 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE, shoppers with an eye for jewelry can purchase one of Cedi’s beaded necklaces. This attractive necklace features three tiered strands of red glass and white mother-of-pearl shell beads on black threading. It measures twenty inches in length and fastens with a metal hook clasp. It’s the ideal year-round accessory.
To purchase the Cedi’s glass shell necklace, please visit www.handeyeshop.com.