Tabular brass beads are more flat than round and were common adornments amongst members of African traditional society. In countries such as Ghana, tabular brass beads were hand made by bead makers from the Ashanti tribe to create one-of-a-kind pieces such as beautiful triangle matched beads crafted from brass through the lost wax technique. What makes each tabular brass bead unique is the fact that a mold is specifically prepared for each bead, which is thereafter destroyed in order to extract the bead. Also hand strung, tabular brass beads are ideal for designing elaborate pieces of jewelry or simply wearing them as they come in the form of necklaces or bracelets.
Tuareg beads originate from the nomadic Tuareg people of North Africa. Tuareg beads are created by skilled Tuareg bead makers who pass the knowledge on to future generations, just as their forefathers have been doing for over a thousand years. These beads are unique and high quality and used to create exquisite jewelry items. Some common items crafted include crosses made using the ancient lost wax technique of bead making. Here, softened wax is shaped and applied in a clay mold which is then fired using a goat skin bellows. The basic Tuareg bead cross can then be shaped, engraved and thereafter polished to create an awe-inspiring jewelry item.
Beads made from all sorts of materials including brass, glass and metal may be referred to as “fancy beads”. These beads may be labeled “fancy” due to the elaborate decorations that adorn their surfaces. For instance, fancy beads may be decorated with dots, lines, trails and engravings to fit in with their fancy description. Fancy beads may also be shaped after decorating to give them an even more interesting pattern. Fancy beads will typically receive their fascinating patterns and decorations while still in molten state to allow for easier shaping. During the decoration process, glass rods may be used to apply numerous dots, as well as wavy lines or trails to the fancy beads.
With their origin in France, French glass beads were historically used in African trade during the 19th century, mainly in African countries such as present day Ghana. What made French glass beads such a popular currency amongst the African and European traders was the fact that these beads were inexpensive, portable and more importantly they had high intrinsic value for the Africans. Today, French glass beads are used to create beautiful necklaces using, say, a handful of old mustard yellow beads which are strung on raffia, bead to bead. The necklace may then be used to showcase an equally exquisite handmade brass pendant as its focal point.
Ivory Coast beads are made out of metals such as brass and may be strung bead to bead to produce beautiful jewelry pieces. Ivory Coast beads are hand-made and crafted by African metal smiths who are skilled in forging and fabricating beads and casting metal using the lost wax technique. This lost wax technique mainly used whit brass to create the beads through sculpting or molding a shape in wax which would then be covered with successive layers of clay in order to make a mould into which the melted brass would be poured. The metal would melt the wax which would then pour out and the metal allowed to set. Thereafter, the mold is broken, the bead removed, filed smooth, polished and cleaned to produce a beautiful Ivory Coast bead.
Brass pendant beads are a type of African trade beads which are hand-made and crafted out of metal. Brass pendant beads are made from brass which is an alloy of copper that contains a significant amount of zinc as well. These pendant beads work well as beautiful centerpieces for a wide range of jewelry items. For instance, you could add a brass pendant bead as the focal point on a strand of French glass beads to create an exquisite necklace. Brass pendant beads are products of centuries of brass bead making in West Africa, and most have been produced by the age old ancient bead making method referred to as the lost wax technique.
Coin metal is a metallic material which is fashioned into a disc and often used as currency. Some common metals used to make coins include brass, silver, exotic metals such as gold and silver, as well as other metals like nickel, zinc and copper. Coin metal beads are also referred to as nickel metal beads and are commonly available in metals such as brass and silver. These beads receive their name from the particular coin metal used in their construction. As such, coin metal beads may take the form of coin silver beads and coin brass beads.
Originally found in West African countries such as the Ivory Coast, boule beads are made from brass and strung to produce beautiful jewelry. Boule beads were part of a family tradition of bead making, with tools and techniques being passed on from generation to generation. The Hausa of West Africa were particularly known to dominate the bead trade as they traveled extensively to locate beads in villages, modify them and sell them to both local and foreign merchants. These beads were originally used to make ornaments such as necklaces and bracelets that would serve as symbols of power, wealth and status in society.
Photos courtesy of Claudia Hogue and Shari Burton – Bears Beads and Chains
Strands contain Brass Bicone Beads, Watermelon Beads, White Hearts, Krobo Beads, Kakamba Beads, Ghana Beads, Feather Beads, Eye Beads, Batik Bone Beads, Padre Beads, Ostrich Eggshell Beads, Snake Beads, Heishi Beads, and just about everything else!
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