Sand Cast Beads
Sand cast beads are also referred to as powdered glass beads and feature
glass beads crafted by hand. They are also known as Krobo beads from the
Krobo mountain area of production.
These beads were popularly used as currency during trade in West African
countries such as Ghana.
These recycled glass beads were made in small cottage industries in
Ghana, Africa. The beads were handcrafted by pulverizing old, discarded
glass (bottles, windshields, etc) and pouring the powder into crude clay
molds. The stem of a local plant is added, this burns away during
firing, leaving a hole for stringing.
These are then fired in clay molds at a relatively low temperature in
order to give the beads texture.
Necklace with sand cast blue design oblong beads with
cow bone and wood spacers
The colors of Ghana beads have meaning. For instance, in certain
parts of Ghana, white colored beads evoke fertility; blue colored ones
are associated with purity; while golden ones are a symbol of wealth.
Bodom beads are yellow with a diamond shape design of a darker color
such as blue and were traditionally produced to be worn exclusively by
African chiefs. Once you know what the colors of your beads symbolize,
wearing them becomes a much more personal experience.
(courtesy of rexbeads.com)
Clean most African beads with a small amount of Mineral
Oil on a clean cloth and rub.
This is not recommended for old, batik dyed or Antique beads as their dirt
is well earned and adds to their history.
Cleaning agents such as soap are not advised.
There are 3 main types of Krobo glass beads: powder
and painted glass beads. This necklace has recycled
glass disc spacers
in multi-colors all from Ghana.
African Bead History
The African Bead History of particular Ghanaian beads dates back to
ancient times when they were first used as the King’s currency for the
exchange of slaves, textiles and alcohol. Later, they became popular in
the ancient coming of age rituals for girls. Today, they are mostly
The modern day woman – both African and non-African, is rediscovering
the beauty of these Ghana beads which are growing in variety and
popularity. Every stage of the manufacturing process is vital. Molding
to painting is done by hand, with attention given to each bead for a
Photos courtesy of Peggy O'Rouke on State
Department assignment in Ghana
Glass powder of different colors is obtained using ceramic dyes.
Many beads are hand painted with traditional designs and then strung on
raffia. An example is below.
MUDCLOTH or BATIK DYED BEADS
Batik/ Bone beads are popular in most African countries and are
animal bone and thereafter dyed through the batik method to give them color.
Some examples are below
Necklace with Batik pendant and bracelet with bone spacers
Handmade Recycled Paper Beads
were produced by women living in refugee camps in northern Uganda. The
beads are made from strips of discarded colored paper and magazine pages
that are rolled and then lacquered with a non-toxic varnish. Income from
the sale of these beads helps the women support themselves and families
as they return to homesteads and slowly rebuild their lives. You can
feel good in knowing that by purchasing these jewelry pieces made with
these beads that a large portion of the profit goes directly to the