Ads Top

How to Make a Recycled African Bead Necklace | Beginner Tips

I recently received some scrumptious beads and a large pendant from The Bead Chest for review.  This California based company specializes in ethnic beads and supplies made by artisans from all over the world- particularly Africa.

I picked two of the strands (shown below)  to make my unique recycled African Bead necklace.  The black disc beads were made from recycled phonographs by Nigerian artisans.  They are very evenly made so I suspect they must have used a simple die cutter.  West African artisans do not have many tools and often improvise (see first link below).

The colorful beads are glass beads made by the people of Krobo Mountain in West Ghana. They crush glass bottles and so on. The powdered glass is "then poured into molds in order to create these round shaped beads. Decorations on the beads are made with a paste made of colored glass powder and water which is applied by hand using a thin wooden stalk. The beads are cooked a second time to fix the decor."  

The Krobo bead patterns resemble those of old Venetian trade beads which were highly prized by Africans.  See my historical post on Richard Francis Burton (the explorer not the actor!) and the crucial role trade beads helped in the European exploration of Africa.

I decided to make a simple strung necklace - the holes in the recycled photograph discs were not large enough for leather cords. As you can see, the handmade beads have some irregularity. 

Are you a beginner? See my past post on crimps, wire guardians and crimping pliers here on how to use these. The necklace I made wasn't really heavy but I doubled up on the crimp beads for extra security.  This is recommended if you are making a heavy necklace.

I also prefer using only sterling silver crimps. This soft metal holds much better than those made from plated based metal. I also do not use the first part of the crimping pliers. From my experience, a flat crimp with just my flat nose pliers works better.

But I do use my crimping pliers to round off the flattened crimp beads.

Since my crimps were sterling silver and my necklace was designed with gold tone findings, I used crimp covers to hide them.  I've come across beginners in my local classes  who are wary of crimp covers.  The best advice I can give is to use broad nose pliers which have more surface area. And to close the covers slowly with even pressure. 

Here is another tip. I love TierraCast's clasp collection, so I used one for this design.  I recommend a safety chain if you do use a hook rather than say, a lobster clasp.  Sometimes, a necklace can get undone when you are say, shrugging off a coat!

There you have it - a funky recycled African bead necklace. I still have loads of these beads left over as the strands were very long.

I used my iPhone 6S with the Camera+  app for all the above photographs. I used the Orangemonkie studio which comes equipped with LED lights - for artificial light photography in my windowless basement studio. The Foldio2 is particularly affordable. I use the Foldio3 because I need the room for tutorial photography.  

My online class Easy Guide to Smartphone Jewelry Photography is now available. Read more about it here.  

Before You Go:

This blog may contain affiliate links. I do receive a small fee for any products purchased through affiliate links. This goes towards the support of this blog and to provide resource information to readers. The opinions expressed are solely my own. They would be the same whether or not I receive any compensation.
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Wire JewelryTips  -Jewelry Business Tips 


  1. Great idea for a simple necklace. Thanks for sharing. I have a foldio that I rarely use as I an unhappy with the overhead shots that I get. As I make necklaces the most, when I take pics from the front, I loose a lot of detail to the depth of field because of the angle.

    1. Did you buy the larger ones with extra lights? This works well for me. The other thing is your camera. Some of the newer smartphones (the iPhone) have dual cameras which reduce the problem of shallow depth of field. The other suggestion is to use a dSLR where you can change the aperture priority.

  2. I really like this necklace. I have several strands of black disc shaped beads and I have pondered what to do with them, so thanks Pearl.

    1. Glad you liked it! There are so many ways to design with black disc shaped beads, this is just but one of them.

  3. I like it! And of course now I have to go check out what's on offer at The Bead Chest! The name alone is intriguing. I think I'm going to feel like a pirate! LOL!


You're AWESOME! Thanks for the comment and feedback. You do make a difference on my blog!

Powered by Blogger.