4 June 2011 – How to make glass beads; Ghana style!

Step 1 – Collect plenty of glass bottles.

Step 2 – Wash them well

Step 3 – Smash them to small bits. (This could be therapeutic!)

In front of the hands you can see two molds with broken bits of glass in them, ready for the oven.

You can now go to step 4 or you can do 3a, 3b, 3c

Step 3a – Put the smashed bits into a pestle and pound them with a mortar.  (This looked like fun!)

Step 3b – Sieve the powder to get only the finest particles of it.

Step 3c – Add some dye to clear glass powder

Step 4 – Coat the mold with white clay to keep the beads from sticking to it.

The white ball is the clay to line the mold.

Step 5 – Put the small bits in the mold of your choice.  or

Design a bead using the powder. This looks a lot like sand art. These picture show my guide, William, using a wooden tool to push the dust out of the funnel. He uses the flat end of the tool to shape the dust in the mold.

The shot glass shows the pattern he made in the mold. The shot glass will not go in the oven it’s just for illustration.

Step 6 – A stick goes in the center of the powder beads before baking. They are too soft after baking to keep a hole made then.

Step 7 – Put the molds in the oven.

Step 8 – Baked them for 30 minutes up to 2 hours depending on size of the bead and materials used.

Step 9 – Remove them, poke a hole in the beads made of glass pieces, and let them cool for up to two hours.  See how they are coated with the clay?

Step 10 – Wash and polish them with sand and water for 15 minutes.

Molds

The molds are made with clay they buy in Koforidua. The clay is rolled into cylinders and then 2 inch pieces are cut off.

The mold is shaped using a wooden paddle.

Then a wooden shape is pressed into the mold.

The molds dry in the shade for three days, then in the sun for another three and last are baked for about 30 minutes. When the come out of the oven they weigh less, much less. One that wasn’t baked had the weight of a rock its size, when I held it and the baked one felt like a piece of bread that size, maybe a little heavier but it felt airy.

Oven

The oven is made of mud from a termite mound. The shelf inside the oven use to be clay as well but it kept falling apart in three or four days so now it is metal.

Campus.

The campus is lovely, filled with trees and shade.

-vc

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