One of the beautiful products Anna brought back from Africa are these Recycled Glass Bead Necklaces from Ghana! They are the produce of a culture and an ethic, a way of thinking eco-friendly and fair trade oriented, a combination of modernity and tradition
Ghana is famous for Recycled Glass bead jewellery, also known as Powder or Crushed Glass, and the fabrication process is still very traditional to preserve the bead quality! The creation of this handmade jewellery is done in 4 steps.
The first step is to collect old and used glass bottles, sort them by their colours and to crush the glass.
For the second step the glass is placed in handmade forms which are then baked with traditional kilns and later hand shaped and perforated while they are still hot.
Then, some of the beads are painted with a wooden stick and a paste made from coloured glass powder dissolved in water. For the final step, the beads are baked one last time to make sure they stay like this forever!
But which materials are used to make these beads?
As you may have guessed, basically every glass material is used to make these handmade jewellery but the designers prefer some as they can give the beads an extended palette of colours!
Coca Cola bottles and but also the Green ones are very popular because they have a different nuance of glass from the original ones and give sea-grass green beads.
Another material is the traditional beer and wine bottle! They can give beads from earthy ambers to toffee brown colours or emerald and pale green colour.
The blue beads are obtained from the glass of Vanity and Cold Cream Jars are they are produced from a mix of different elements such as potash, lime, and sodium which turn the glass blue.
Last but nonetheless important are the Television screens. Their scarcity in Africa because of their price makes the subtle blue-grey beads created from their smoky grey screen valuable!
Another important aspect of these necklaces is the eco-friendly and fair trade ethics that surround them!
The eco-friendly essence of the beads resides in two facts: first, the use of recycled glass is saving the planet from waste that doesn’t decompose, and then it’s also an energy-saver because moulding new glass is a huge energy consumer.
What is Fair Trade?
The fair-trade concept is to pay everybody the fair amount for their work and to create benefits that for once don’t go to international traders but into the right hands, namely, to the producers themselves.
How to make sure everybody gets what they deserve:
Traders can go straight to the source and buy the beads themselves from the manufacturer so they make sure nobody is exploited, which is what Lov'edu does. Another route is to go through non-profit organizations, such as Bead For Life, which look after the working conditions of the bead-making co-operatives.
Where does the money go?
Money can’t buy happiness but it may be the solution to a lot of issues! One of the main issues in Africa at the moment and especially in Ghana is the fast spread of deadly diseases such as HIV, Aids and Malaria. Unfortunately, people can’t fight them effectively because they don’t have any money to pay for basic healthcare. So by buying from local bead makers you help villages to improve their health thanks to their regular income.
How to make this money grow and give better social prospects to a whole country?
Everything is a matter of perspective. Improving the economy of a region is having an impact on a State, money attracts money, bead making is a main financial resource of Ghana and it helps improving the conditions of teaching and healthcare. For example, in the Manya region, since it became profitable in their bead trading, the Sate has started to give funds to schools so that also children whose families are too poor to pay the fees get an education.
See some of Lov'edu's recycled glass bead necklaces here.