African Trade Beads
Glass beads made in the milllefiori technique originating from Venice, Italy around 1800 A.D. Millefiori beads, meaning 'a thousand flowers' in Italian, are made by annealing several layers of glass in different colors around a central glass cane. These decorative beads would have been used as a form of currency to exchange for goods such as gold, ivory, palm oil, timber as well as services between the 16th and 20th century in Western and Northern Africa. In the late 1960s they were imported to the United States and popularly sold as 'trade beads' or 'love beads'.
Recycled Glass Beads
Recycled glass beads are traditionally made by the Krobo Tribe in Ghana who collect glass bottles, crush them up into a powder and reheat them in a porcelain mold to form a bead in various colors and transparencies. The hole in the bead in made from the stem of a cassava leaf which then disintegrates when baked.
Chevrons are drawn-glass beads made from glass canes sometimes referred to as rosetta or star beads. They originated from Venice, Italy in the late 14th century and were first introduced by Dutch merchants to West Africa in the late 15th century. They are also considered trade beads as they were traded for goods and services throughout history and considered very valuable.
Jewelry made from black terra cotta clay beads handmade by the Dogon tribe of Mali. Each bead is handmade and inscribed with a unique geometric pattern. They are typically black with white etchings.
Mali Prayer Beads
These ebony wood beads have been individually inlaid with a silver metal piece in the middle. They are called prayer beads because like a rosary they are used in meditation to repeat and count prayers.
Brass beads from Africa are mainly sourced from West African countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. They are designed to look like the brass filigree metal work of twisting and shaping thin metal, however they are actually made by lost wax casting techniques of creating a mold from wax or clay and pouring molten metal into it to set as a bead.
Made to imitate real amber, African resin amber beads typically are made in Kenya using materials such as synthetic resins, celluloid, polyester and other types of plastics to pour in a mold.
Typically made from cow or water buffalo bone, these beads are first bleached and then patterned using wax and dye to create geometric designs. Bone is a popular bead making material in Africa due to its strength while easy ability to carve and light weight.
Also known as "African Wax Prints” and “Dutch Wax”, Ankara is a 100% cotton fabric with vibrant patterns. created through an Indonesian wax-resist dyeing technique called Batik. In this technique, methods are used to "resist" the dye from reaching all the cloth, thereby creating a pattern. Dutch wax prints started out as cheap mass-produced imitations of Indonesian batik fabric. It was originally intended for the Indonesian market but found a more enthusiastic market in West Africa, where it became symbols of traditional and high quality fashion. From West Africa, this fabric spread to other parts of Africa and all over the world.