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The Mould

The bead maker begins her bead making process by creating the mould. The mould determines the shape of the bead. To create the mold, the bead maker first pounds the clay with a mortar and pestle until it is pliable. The clay is then rolled into cylindrical shapes where it is then divided into smaller sections, depending on the type of mould being made. Once the clay roll has been made, it is ready to be formed into a mould by taking the slab of clay and patting it flat with a paddle until it is 1 ¼ inches thick. A wooden peg is pressed into the wet clay to form depressions and is left to dry at room temperature for 3-4 days. The Moulds are then sun dried for another 3-4 days and coated in kaolin to prevent the molten glass from sticking to the mould during firing. Finally, the mould is placed in a preheated oven to dry.

firewood kiln
Seed Bead Mould

The Firewood Kiln

The Kiln is what fires the moulds, thus, creating the desired bead. The moulds are inserted into the one opening in the front of the dome shaped kiln. Firewood is placed under the platform of the kiln.

firewood kiln
Firewood kiln

Tools and Supplies Used in the Bead Making Process

  • Granite Stone
  • Metal Pestle
  • Mortar
  • Clay Moulds
  • Cassava Leaf Stalks
  • Sieves
  • Bamboo or Metal for Spatula (Both Long & Short)
  • Metal Spindles
  • Firewood Kiln
  • Stone Platform
  • Glass Bottles (for glass beads)
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