I went to Africa with a passion for textiles. As I travel, learn more and discover more, that passion has grown to encompass other traditions, such as bead making.
When I first went to Ghana and met long-time resident and beaded jewellery artist Trish Graham, I discovered the incredible bead culture there. And so, I became hooked on beads as well.
Now, where ever Trish and I travel together in West Africa, I spend almost as much time hunting for beads as I do for fabric!
All across Africa, bone has been carved into beads for centuries.
The tradition continues to this day. In Kenya, skilled craftsmen carve and shape cow bone recycled from local abbatoires, then use a wax-resist batik process to create wonderful African designs.
Africans have always used shells and other natural beads as adornment and that tradition is still strong today.
Take the cowrie shell. It's used in jewellery and as an embellishment on textiles. Historically, it's been used as money. In fact, the Ghanaian currency, the Cedi, actually translates as "cowrie".
"What's a treasure bag, " you might wonder.
Well, it's a mixed bag of hand-made African beads - a great way to taste Africa's amazing and varied bead culture.