Kati Torda’s work is a celebration of the bead tradition in Ghana. Her artistry consists in recognizing the special energy and balance among different materials and colors and bringing them together into stunning compositions. She was born in Abaujszanto, Hungary on 19 May 1959 and moved to Ghana in 1979 with her then Ghanaian husband. She has resided in Ghana ever since. Kati Torda was first attracted to Ghanaian beads when she started incorporating them into the macramé projects she did to keep herself from becoming bored in the rural town of Akwatia where they first lived. Her search for new beads began to open her eyes to an aspect of Ghanaian culture she was not previously exposed to. Over the years, beads became a way for Kati to identify with the culture in Ghana in order to express herself and find acceptance by making a welcome contribution.
The first exhibition to showcase Kati Torda’s beads was held in 1985 in the Loom Gallery in Accra and since then her jewelry designs have been exhibited and sold not only in Ghana, but her native Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Canada, and the USA. She is often invited to talk about the cultural significance of beads in Ghanaian life, both in Ghana and abroad. Kati is one of the three founding members of the Ghana Bead Society (est. 1994), which was the first of its kind in Africa. The main purpose of the society is to promote an appreciation of the significance of beads in both traditional and contemporary Ghanaian culture. In addition, they aim to compile a bead encyclopedia of historical and contemporary beads in Ghana with cultural reference as to names, meanings, and how and when to wear each bead. Kati opened the Sun Trade Beads shop in 1996.
Ghana’s Ancient Beads Back in Vogue – Kati’s Interview on CNN
“A new generation of Ghanaians are rediscovering their heritage — and rediscovering the appeal of traditional beads.
Many Ghanaians used to associate beads with an old-fashioned coming-of-age ritual for girls. But not anymore… Kati Torda, owner of Sun Trade Beads, has seen her exports — mostly to Europe — increase from five-percent of her revenue eight years ago, to 50 percent last year. Now she’s looking to grow her business even more as she expands her product lines.
“Because of that new potential, we don’t just produce necklaces and bracelets, we produce home decoration,” Torda told CNN. “Of course, the potential is endless.”
At a local market, some of the beads on sale are over 100 years old, recovered from burial grounds. But there are other, less ghoulish, forms of recycling being used, with some beads produced from recycled materials such as glass bottles.
“Ghana can teach a thing or two to the world about recycling,” said Torda.
But the new-found popularity of beads isn’t just about giving old materials a new lease of life — it’s about breathing new life into traditional ideas.”