Tag Archives: San culture

Workshop in Kang

30 Oct

I spent the majority of the month in October working at a skills workshop in Kang. The block training workshop was part of a government initiative to give marketable skills to students with physical and mental disabilities. I went with my supervisor and one of Gantsi Craft’s producers (and her adorable child) to teach a group of 12 students how to make ostrich eggshell jewelry. Other skills that were being taught at the workshop included recycled crafts, pottery, horticulture, hospitality and flower arrangement.

Here is the production process that we taught the students (please visit my Tumblr for pictures of each step!):

Step 1: Break the ostrich eggshell into shards.

Step 2: Break the shards into small squares and triangles. These new pieces (the beads) should each be approximately 0.5cm x 0.5cm. The shards are broken by pressing the outside edges of two shells against each other.

Step 3: Drill holes into the bead. This is one using a long stick with a nail on the end of it (called a drilling stick). The stick is rubbed very quickly between both hands (as if you are rubbing your hands together to keep them warm) while gently putting pressure downward.

Step 4: Widen the hole. This is done with a smaller version of the drilling stick.

Step 5: String the beads onto a plastic string.

Step 6: Cut the beads into equal-sized circles. Traditionally, this was done using a springbok (animal similar to an antelope) horn, but now producers use nail clippers to be more efficient.

Step 7: Smoothen the beads. This is done by laying the string of beads on a plank of wood, then rubbing the beads with a filing stone. Traditionally, producers used stones, but now they use the filing stones to be more efficient.

Step 8: Dyeing the beads. This step is optional, and producers only dye the beads they want coloured. Beads can be dyed tan, brown, or black, by frying them.

Step 9: Make jewelry! I didn’t post any pictures of this since I have used my beads to make some gifts and don’t want to spoil the surprise. However, producers have creative freedom over what pieces to create and many pieces are inspired by animals and nature. I highly recommend that you all check out Gantsi Craft’s website and take a look at all the wonderful jewelry!


Since I had never been taught how to make our ostrich eggshell products and none of the students spoke English, I was pretty much useless in helping to facilitate. It was pretty frustrating knowing that I wasn’t contributing anything, but I still really enjoyed learning the process. I think that it was valuable for me to attend, since by learning the production process, I now have a greater understanding of our producers and of our products, which will help me with all my other work this year. In all, I am very happy that I had the opportunity to go, as I learned a lot and made many new friends, but I am excited to finally be back in Ghanzi, and I am settling into my new house.