Friday, March 27, 2009

what's in a bead?

Aside from history, potential, and pleasure?
Depending on the bead, it could be allot of hard work, a few hopes and dreams, maybe even a play for independance . . .
Lately I've been working a fair amount with beads from the Soul of Somanya project. They're beautiful pieces-- unique, high quality and easy to work with.

Some of you may remember when the Soul of Somanya project was cover in Bead&Button and in Beadwork. I remember finding the articles interesting, but I never suspected that I'd wind up working with those beads one day!

On a recent search for African glass beads on Etsy (As I failed to procure them in Arizona) I found  that Melody MacDuffee was selling the beads on Etsy for Soul of Somanya. Today I found that she's on ArtFire too!

After an exchange last night with Melody MacDuffee regarding my mentions of the project in the listings where I use beads made by these artists, I started thinking about a blog post. I always try to mention the artists who create the beads I work with. I see us as partners, working together to create objects of beauty to adorn people who appreciate connecting with art, artists and the thread of personal adornment that is as old as humanity itself and that stretches accross all our differences.

So this is me, talking about my latest 'partners'!
Soul of Somanya is made up of a group of coming-of-age orphans in the town of Somanya in Ghana, West Africa. Melody and Helen help them to design, produce and market their jewelry and beads in the U.S.

This group would otherwise have very limited prospects due to their lack of family support and/or limited levels of education. It is a population that is commonly overlooked. But these nine young people now have marketable skills and an ongoing means of making a living. All proceeds go back into the Soul of Somanya bead workers' self-empowerment project to pay for wages and materials needed to create the distinctive, colorful products for which they are gradually becoming known.

There are a lot of pictures and project information, as well as updates on Soul of Somanya's progress on

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