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17 March 2019 / leggypeggy

Bead-making an industry in West Africa

Decorating a bead in the Ivory Coast

Olivier starts to decorate a bead

Ten years ago in West Africa, I bought too many bead bracelets and necklaces, so I wasn’t particularly in the market as a shopper when we visited Kapolei in the Ivory Coast.

Bead-making is an industry in this small village. We were lucky enough to be welcomed in to Olivier’s place where he explained the craft (in French) and demonstrated how beads are decorated.

Clay and large clay beads

Beads before decorating and a small piece of clay on the left

Bowls of handmade beads, Ivory Coast

Bowls of large decorated beads

A bead is placed on a long thin stick, which is then balanced and spun on the artist’s foot. The colours are all natural and are applied with the tiniest of chicken feathers.

Olivier’s shop was filled with already-made jewellery sets (bracelet, necklace and earrings) in a vast array of sizes and colours, as well as baskets of loose beads. Of course, we all shopped. Even me.

Bead jewellery for sale in West Africa

Jewellery sets in an array of colours

Painting a bead in the Ivory Coast

Olivier applies yellow to a large bead


Leave a Comment
  1. gigglingfattie / Mar 17 2019 10:55 pm

    WOW! All so beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. beetleypete / Mar 17 2019 11:02 pm

    Wonderful to see that ancient craft carrying on today, in exactly the same was as it must have been done for centuries. No wonder you bought something, Peggy. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. trE / Mar 17 2019 11:11 pm

    I would sit there for hours simply watching. I bet it takes an insane amount of patience to be able take part in bead-making.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. CarolCooks2 / Mar 18 2019 12:10 am

    How wonderful and such a painstaking way to paint with a tiny feather…It must have been awesome to watch:) x

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 18 2019 4:48 am

      It was fantastic. I’ve seen lots of beads in Africa, but this is the first time to see them being decorated.


  5. Sy S. / Mar 18 2019 1:08 am

    Beautiful colors makes the world go round… and hard to resist not buy some beautiful beads. Interesting to see some hand made crafts are still going on.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 18 2019 4:49 am

      Still lots of handmade crafts here. Stay tuned for more posts about them.


  6. Gary / Mar 18 2019 1:43 am

    Interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. derrickjknight / Mar 18 2019 2:02 am

    So very enticing

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cindy Wright-Dellanave / Mar 18 2019 2:46 am

    Gorgeous photo of the bead-making foot – wonderful post. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. pvcann / Mar 18 2019 3:24 am

    Amazing that they can paint and work these small beads like they do, so colourful. If you have too many you’ll have to get on with making some necklaces surely?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Mar 18 2019 4:01 am

    I had no idea how much labor goes into making a bead. They are gorgeous. Now I know the story behind them, I’ll look more carefully at these lovely beads.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 18 2019 4:51 am

      Great point Sharon. We often forget how labour intensive handmade pieces can be.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. fragglerocking / Mar 18 2019 11:00 am

    I would have bought loads! Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. debra hall / Mar 19 2019 9:02 pm

    Reblogged this on TSSREVIEWSDOTCOM and commented:
    writing and pictures from Peggy Bright of Where to Next?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Curt Mekemson / Mar 20 2019 10:48 am

    Had some of those once. They went out the door with my first wife. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Chris Riley / Mar 20 2019 7:57 pm

    Amazing. I never would have given a thought that beads would be home made. So much work.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. thewonderer86 / Mar 21 2019 8:18 pm

    Such a small thing. Such a lot of work. Amazing patience and creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Rhonda / Mar 28 2019 9:47 am

    I`m not sure how I managed to miss this post until now ( but it could have something to do with a trip to Canberra for a small girl’s 5the birthday…)
    Anyway, these beads are gorgeous. I’d love to have seen him painting them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2019 6:14 pm

      I have lots more photos that I can show you next time we catch up.


  17. Alison and Don / Mar 29 2019 2:52 pm

    Love these beads. I think I’d be seduced into buying too, no matter how many I had.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. jeanleesworld / Apr 7 2019 9:06 pm

    Wow! Such a balance of nature and human artistry. I’m glad you stopped by, even if you weren’t in the market to buy. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  19. chattykerry / Apr 28 2019 9:08 am

    I don’t think I have ever thought about how natural beads are made. Beautifully simple.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. antonia_ / Jun 4 2019 7:46 am

    Wow so intricate. Great read

    Liked by 1 person


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