Meet Our Bead Makers
Crafting Together jewellery celebrates the value created by recycling materials.
We source our beads from family run enterprises in Uganda and Ghana, supporting employment, health and well being and education. Nothing gets wasted in Africa and the bead industry is a perfect example. We always pay a fair price for our beads. We are proud to know the Makers of the beads we use in our jewellery.
Meet Sarah Namaganda, master paper bead maker for awamu in Kampala, Uganda.
Sarah supports her family and also cares for four orphaned children through her bead making enterprise.
Sarah makes all the paper beads for Crafting Together jewellery, including our Scotland A-Z street map beads.
Follow this link to meet Sarah and watch a video of how she makes her beads. https://www.awamu.co.uk/artists/sarah-namagada
Sourcing recycled beads in Ghana
Artisan jewellery makers and their customers treasure beautiful beads - especially when they come with a story. Magie Relph and Bob Irwin from The African Fabric Shop spend a lot of time researching and buying beads for Crafting Together in Ghana. They trek to remote villages, scour the Koforidua and Krobo-Odumasi bead markets and work directly with artisan bead makers to bring hand-crafted beads made from recycled glass to the UK.
Bottle Glass Beads
Meet Oklah Tetteh: bottle glass bead maker in Koforidua, Ghana
Oklah’s small-scale enterprise is a model of recycling simplicity, efficiency and ingenuity.
- Find and clean old bottles… Magie even takes Bombay Sapphire gin bottles to Oklah for his beautiful turquoise beads
- Sort by colour
- Crush into shards using two rocks
- Fill clay moulds with crushed glass
- Fire in mud-built kiln to fuse glass into beads of various sizes and shapes
- Polish beads on concave stone using sand and water
- String beads
- Sell at market
Ntaka Powder Beads
Meet Yohanes Nahr and family: Ntaka bead makers, Koforidua, Ghana
Johanes - with his wife Comfort and daughter Salome - makes a very special range of bead called Ntaka. While the process is similar to Oklah’s, there are subtle differences. Johanes uses all sorts of glass from many sources - but not bottle glass - and grinds it into a fine powder before adding ceramic dyes. He uses special moulds to create the special shapes of Ntaka beads - from 35 mm discs to tiny 3 mm waist beads worn by children around their middles! Crafting Together use these waist beads in our jewellery.
Hand Painted Powder Glass Beads
Into the hills: village bead makers of Koforidua, Ghana
Painting recycled glass beads: near Koforidua, Ghana
Most recycled glass beads are made in the hill villages around Koforidua. Life is basic and tough: no electricity, water from the stream, small-scale farming and bead making.
Some beads are made of carefully layered coloured glass powder, others are delicately painted. The variety of bead design, colour and creativity expands exponentially There are old favourite designs, many based on the traditional and increasingly rare trade beads that came to Africa from Europe in colonial times. Even better, the makers are constantly creating brand new designs for both local and international markets.
Into the market: Koforidua’s bead heaven
Then, of course, there’s Koforidua’s weekly bead market - and another chance to buy even more beads! Every Thursday, makers and traders set up their tables and start bartering.
‘We try to buy a little bit from as many makers and traders as possible,’ says Magie, ‘spreading our business to benefit the most number of makers and their families.’