A single handmade glass kobo bead is the focal of each of these colorful and fun beaded hoop earrings - these beauties are a splash of color and look fantastic with denim.....or black.....or white.....or......! Handmade sterling silver earwires and copper hoops are light and easy to wear.
The origins of bead-making in Ghana are unknown but the great majority of powder glass beads produced today are made by Ashanti and Krobo craftsmen and women. Krobo bead-making has been documented to date from as early as the 1920s but may date even further back. Bead making in Ghana was first documented by John Barbot in 1746.Beads still play important roles in Krobo society, be it in rituals of birth, coming of age, marriage, or death.
Powder glass beads are made from finely ground glass, the main source being broken and unusable bottles and a great variety of other scrap glasses. Special glasses such as old cobalt medicine bottles, cold cream jars, and many other types of glasses from plates, ashtrays, window panes - to name only a few - are occasionally bought new, just for the purpose. Pulverized or merely fragmented, and made into beads, these glasses yield particularly bright colors and shiny surfaces.
Krobo powder glass beads are made in vertical molds fashioned out of a special, locally dug clay. Most molds have a number of depressions, designed to hold one bead each, and each of these depressions, in turn, has a small central depression to hold the stem of a cassava leaf. The mold is filled with finely ground glass that can be built up in layers in order to form sequences and patterns of different shapes and colors. The technique could be described as being somewhat similar to creating a sand "painting" or to filling a bottle with different-colored sands. The cassava leaf stems will burn away during firing and leave the bead perforation. Certain powder glass bead variants, however, receive their perforations after firing, by piercing the still hot and pliable glass with a hand-made, pointed metal tool. Firing takes place in clay kilns until the glass fuses.
We purchase our kobo beads from Soul of Somanya a non-profit that works directly with the craftsmen and women of Somanya, Ghana, enabling them to provide for their families.