About African Clay Beads

Clay beads date as far back as 1000 BC in various regions across the world. In Africa, clay beads were used as trade beads in countries such as Ghana and Mali. Clay beads were mainly adorned by the poor due to their affordability. In contrast to the rare precious stones and metals that the rich could wear, clay was available in abundance. Clay beads were traditionally used in prayer strands as well as in amulets as jewelry. The beads were typically designed with large holes that could accommodate leather thongs as strands. Today, some nations prize their clay bead heritage so much that they prohibit their export.

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About Ugandan Newspaper Beads

Newspaper beads are a more recent innovation in East Africa. However, the techniques used to make the beads are similar to those used during Victorian times by young ladies gathering socially to make beads out of paper for room dividers. The only difference is that the women in Africa are not using wallpaper samples, but recycling old newspapers to craft their beads. Once varnished, these beads are able to remain water resistant and durable. Newspapers are the preferred raw material because of their abundance, eco-friendliness and the fact that most use color fast inks. Found in countries such as Uganda and Kenya, these beads have in recent years formed the basis for income generation amongst women in cooperatives.

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About Ugandan Newspaper Beads

Newspaper beads are a more recent innovation in East Africa. However, the techniques used to make the beads are similar to those used during Victorian times by young ladies gathering socially to make beads out of paper for room dividers. The only difference is that the women in Africa are not using wallpaper samples, but recycling old newspapers to craft their beads. Once varnished, these beads are able to remain water resistant and durable. Newspapers are the preferred raw material because of their abundance, eco-friendliness and the fact that most use color fast inks. Found in countries such as Uganda and Kenya, these beads have in recent years formed the basis for income generation amongst women in cooperatives.

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About Sand Cast Beads

Sand cast beads are also referred to as powdered glass beads and feature glass beads crafted by hand. These beads were popularly used as currency during trade in West African countries such as Ghana. Sand cast beads are made in a process which has bead makers grinding up bottles or other scrap glass to produce recycled beads. These are then fired in clay molds at a relatively low temperature in order to give the beads texture. Sand cast beads are available in beautiful colors such as blue and may be strung bead to bead to produce beautiful strands on raffia.

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About Tuareg Amulet Beads

Found in Mali, old Tuareg amulet beads are handmade glass beads also referred to as Talhakimts. Mainly worn as hair ornaments, the old Tuareg amulet beads were typical features at Tuareg weddings during which the bride received the geometric beads, which she was required to wear as a sign of her marital status. Amulet beads were cherished heirlooms amongst the Tuareg people, as well as serving as everyday accessories to the flowing cloth of both men and women. Modern variations of the old Tuareg amulet beads are produced in the same tradition and feature structurally bold geometric pieces reminiscent of the Moorish architecture.

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About Bauxite Clay Beads

Bauxite clay beads were originally made in West Africa in countries such as Ghana. These beads played a role in traditional rites and ceremonies such as circumcision, coming of age, marriage, burial, as well as other traditional festivals. These beads were mainly worn as pendants and bracelets, and formed a visual language that spoke of the beliefs, status, family, life experiences and accomplishments of the bead wearer. Bauxite clay beads were formed with care to produce a final ornament that would tell the story of the wearer. As such, these beads served as a biography of the community, village and the individuals that adorned themselves with the bauxite clay beads.

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