Filling the Moulds

The crushed or powdered glass is filled into the pouring holes. Depending on the desired result, the bead-maker uses fine or less fine pieces of glass in one colour or in different colours. By putting the glass in particular places in the pouring holes, the colour hues of the beads can be determined exactly.

In the Furnace

The furnace is made of clay reinforced with iron. The iron used often stems from scrap-metal, eg. from the remains of scrapped cars. It takes a good two hours until the oven has the optimum temperature of almost 1000 degrees Celsius. The smelting procedure itself takes about 40 minutes. The exact time also depends on the colour of the glass used. This sweltering work demands a lot of experience on the part of the bead-maker.

Boring and Cooling

Directly after the smelting, the second "hot phase" of making the bead-holes begins. Since the glass cools off rapidly once it is taken out of the oven, work done in this phase needs to be quick and precise.

With a metal pick the artist punches a hole in the bead which is still in the mould. A string can then be threaded through this hole later. In addition, the bead is turned often whereby its shape gains stability. A verywork-intensive undertaking for so many beads.

Washing and Polishing

After the beads have cooled off, they need to be washed and polished. This is done in a watery solution of washing powder and sand. The bead-maker rubs and abrades the fresh beads until their surface is free of impurities.

After this last polishing, the beads are left to dry in the sun before they are strung on cotton threads. Depending on the size of the beads, 30 to 50 beads are strung together.

The Making of Krobo-Beads

Krobo beads are manufactured in the Krobo-Odumasi area of the Eastern Region in Ghana. They are made from recycled glass. Skilled artists work with traditional methods, producing beads in various shapes, sizes, colours and design.
Each bead is unique because it is handmade.

Tools and Materials

Recycled Glass
crushed or in powder-form

Wooden Stamps
carved with the bead shape

Clay moulds
to be filled with crushed glass

Kiln for firing

Tools for boring the bead-holes

Soap, basins, water for washing the finished product.

Cotton thread or raffia for stringing

Clay Moulds and Stamping

The clay is formed into cylindrical lumps. Wooden boards are used to even the top and bottom. The moulds must have a solid consistency so that they do not fall apart in the next steps. The finished forms are pre-dried in the shade first. This is necessary so that they do not develop cracks. Then, the real drying procedure takes place in the sun. Finally, the forms are dipped in a clay-and-lime mixture. This procedure means that the clay forms can be repeatedly used for as long as one year.

Stamping the Bead Forms

In the next step, the moulds are stamped with holes in different shapes which will be filled with the crushed glass. The size and form of the holes determine the look of the finished bead. In order to form the pouring holes, wooden rods with artistically carved ends are used: star-shaped, round, elongated, cylindrical and diverse geometrical structures are popular. The bead-maker presses the carved end of the wooden stamp into the clay. One form can have a number of pouring holes. This depends on the size of the beads. For large beads it might be necessary to make an individual form for each.

Types of Krobo-Beads

  • Translucent Beads
  • Powder-Glass Beads
  • Painted Glass Beads


tradition and


Beads, Beads, Beads - Krobo Beads in Ghana


Watch this 5 minute Inside Africa video
From CNN - Added on March 30th, 2010



A short documentary on the history and popularity of Ghana's great bead tradition



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