Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beads, Beads, And More Beads

Sunday has been a day of recovery of sorts due to the fact that I made a day-long trip to Somanya to see a bead-making operation. I don't get earlier starts than 3:48 AM.

I was supposed to be up earlier than that too; my alarm had a feature where it would ignore weekends so as not to wake you up on your relaxed weekends. My 3:30 wake-up alert never came and instead I was awoken by the phone ringing next to my ear. It was the art teacher on campus and she asked if I was indeed going to come along with her and the rest of the students. I said, “Yep,” and shambled off to the bathroom to try my best to wake up in under two minutes and get out of the door. I made it to our statue circle where the vehicles were parked by 4:01.

Not my typical Saturday here.

We got on the road by about 4:20 and I think I was the only one that was not used to being awake at that hour as my head bobbed to and fro trying to fall off of my neck. It didn't and I was treated to seeing a sunrise on the road. It was a very beautiful day to start, and after a few hours trekking over some bumpy roads, we made it to our destination.

The man who operates the business is nicknamed Cedi and that is the name of the compound we entered, Cedi Industries. He is a very friendly man who took time to explain to the 35 of us what is involved to make glass beads, the different types of beads one can create, and how to make them using clay molds and lots of fire. After our lesson was over, we all clamored about for a few clay molds and got to working on our objects d'art. It was fun and I took a lot of time making my one masterpiece, the glass bead that would clearly show my artistic talents to all present.

At this point the skies became pitch black and the rains let loose on the land in torrents. Our glass beads were not affected and the fires raged on in the kilns, but it was hard to get around the place as most of the facilities were not connected by hallways, just open-air paths from one hut to the next. It has been a while since I have seen rain like that so maybe rainy season is just around the corner.

During the time where our beads were being fired (they have to melt in some very hot ovens before you can see the final product) our friend and guide Cedi showed us another technique to make much fancier glass beads. His demonstration was impressive while he used a propane and oxygen mixture to form a single glass bead from several colors of glass filaments. I was impressed and would have loved to try it, but apparently the techniques a few years to master, and we had about thirty minutes to spare.

After taking our lunch, the second year students and I piled around the now cool clay molds to see what our glass beads looked like. I was hoping for near diamond-like perfection but what I got were dark balls of greenish glass that had holes pressed through the middle. My expectations were not quite on target. Later still we got to see the special bead that we created using powdered glass in one clay mold. Out came mine and it looked, well, it looked awful. No design could be seen in the mix of colors that I had used, and the oblong shape made me think somehow I had fallen asleep during the instruction phase of our lecture. Though it was mine, and I took a photo of it to commemorate it prior to giving it to another student who had lost her bead.

We were taken to the shop where we were allowed to take one bracelet and one necklace professionally created at the site. Mine looked nice, and I ended up buying two more bracelets while I was there. One maybe as a gift to myself and one to hand out to someone later.

By the time I got home my head was quite heavy. The students were great and it was nice to have a chance to talk to some of them in a relaxed situation. If I get the chance to do this type of trip again I will definitely jump at the opportunity.

Does anyone need some ugly glass beads? I know how to make them now.

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