Tuesday, August 3, 2010

African Beads

A presenter at the Gathering this year – as he was in Lowell, Mass was Mr. “Cedi”- Nomoda Djaba. He is from Ghana and runs a successful African bead business. Used glass bottles are gathered from restaurants and bars, cleaned, smashed with rocks, and pounded by mortar and pestle into powder. They add pigment to this powder for extra color. His presentation was quite amazing and I snapped a few photos of the process. The photos show how glass powder is sifted and manipulated with a skewer around a Casaba leaf stick. A glass was used so the color stacking could be seen but this normally done in a clay mold that is later placed in a wood heated kiln. This heating fuses the glass together. The bead mold is removed from the kiln when it is hot and where the stick was a strong steel rod is used to shape the bead into its final form. It is then cooled and washed with other beads against a granite bowl which removes the other layer of kaolin clay (that keeps the glass from sticking to the mold). I’ll add more photos tomorrow so you can see how the beads are formed when they are out of the kiln.