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From Bottle to Bead « MAD Blog
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From Bottle to Bead

[EDITOR: Suzanne Morlock is an artist who lives outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She is works in painting and more recently sculpture and installation involving more organic materials, paper and felt. Morlock has exhibited in the US and internationally. This posting is drawn from her experiences in the summer of 2009 with Cross Cultural Collaborative, Inc., Teshie/ Nungua, Ghana.]

This past summer I spent three weeks in southern Ghana working with a small non-profit focused on art, cultural exchange and working with neighborhood children. The stay in Nungua, a fishing village outside of the capital Accra was typified by many unique, poignant experiences. In August it’s considered Spring with cool temperatures in the low to mid 80s and humidity that feels like 100%.

Ghana is filled with craftspeople, traditional and innovative – weaving, ceramics, bead making, basket making, batik artists, textile artists and fantasy coffin makers to name a few. One side trip east toward the Volta River was to visit a local Krobo bead maker who has taken his artisanship beyond the neighborhood he grew up in.

Having successfully bridged the tricky divide between obscurity and the world at large; Mr. Cedi, as he is known (cedi is the name of the currency of Ghana, a nickname he wears proudly), is a bundle of energy. Always eager to give a tour of his artisan workshop and the process which takes empty bottles and turns them into glass powder beads — we were privy to a full review of his operation.

The tour forced me to suspend my Western notions of craft production. Within his artisan compound there were several areas reserved for the different phases of operation, all in the open air with shade structures of palm fronds with bamboo supports. The recycled glass is ground to a fine powder using a mortar and pestle. Glass powders of various colors are layered into clay molds and melted in a traditional kiln. After cooling, beads are polished by rubbing them together with sand and water on a smooth stone. The combinations of finishes are a feast for the eyes.

Mr. Cedi has been to various countries around the world to speak, give workshops and of course sell the multitude of beads that are produced at his “factory”. His extended family lives on the property where these beads are produced and everyone has a part to play in this large operation. It was an uplifting visit to see a local man reap rewards from hard work and a willingness to think creatively about his local beginnings and how his craft could spread to the world beyond.

Suzanne Morlock

 
 
  • Diane Kosup

    I attended the teacher’s professional development, “Slash, Paper Under The Knife” on 11/03/09. The session was lead by Beatrice Coron who showed us her incredible work and lead our afternoon workshop. The whole day was excellently orchestrated and the work in the gallery very motivational. Ms. Coron basically walked us through her process of creating cut paper pieces and made the ideas presented in the workshop easily transferable to the classroom. After leaving the workshop David Mahl and I created a lesson for our introductory art classes based on what we had experienced at MAD. We had students create a self portrait in the cut paper style of Beatrice Coron. The whole project was a success. Every student was deeply engaged in their work and every student finished their work. I have never had such a successful project. The quality of the work was also excellent. I think working with the knife, and we did use exacto knives, gave the students a sence of respect not only for the tool they were working with but for the work they were producing. David and I have many beautiful pieces of student work displayed around the school. I have also entered some of the students’ work in the Scholastic Art Awards and the student show at MOMA. Wish them luck. Catherine and MAD Museum thank you for an excellent and relavent teacher’s professional development day.
    Diane Kosup

  • wow those beads are absolutly gorgeous, im from utah but i love visiting jackson hole. very interesting blog, thank you!


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