Welcome to Funky Frog…
African beads and more!
African beads and more!
Funky Frog usually travels to Ghana, West Africa to search for gorgeous African beads, baskets and more. We have visited Bead Artisans and searched all the Beads Markets for new finds to bring home. During the Pandemic Traders and Bead Makers are rallying to find and make Funky Frog new beads to keep the collection fresh and interesting …. There are African handcrafted beads made of glass, metals, bone, tree resin, wood, seeds, clay, shell, even rocks and stones!!! So for those of you who are looking for unique beads to incorporate into your own jewelry check out Funky Frog’s page called – Beads….. while travel is impossible Funky Frog brings Africa to you!!!… Over the years my good friend, Dela has taken me everywhere in Ghana … now he is going to pick up beads for me and post them to Montreal. And wonderful Traders and Bead Artisans that I have worked with are working hard to find the beads i keep asking for… Remember every bead you buy means Funky Frog can get More beads from the Traders and Bead Artisans of Ghana….
Funky Frog creates jewelry using gorgeous African beads … Not only is each piece created lovingly by hand in Montreal, each bead is unique and handcrafted in Africa. You can see the jewelry on Funky Frog’s page called – Jewelry. Funky Frog jewelry is also carried by Boutique Sisi on Victoria Ave under the Pink awning … Ask Silvia and she will be delighted to show you Funky Frog’s creations!!!
Baskets + Curios
Baskets are handcrafted in a region in Northern Ghana called Bolgatanga. The G-lish baskets are made from recycled plastic, fabric and the traditional rattan …and they take about three days to make. They are works of art!! The more traditional Bolgatanga baskets are weaved with the elephant grass and have a myriad of colours , designs and shapes. Funky Frog gets Bolgatanga Baskets from the amazing Baba Tree Community which is run by Gregory MacCarthy. When you check out Baba Tree you will note they are “not a “project”, a charity, a foundation or a non – governmental organization (NGO)”….the ethic here is that “the weavers with whom the Baba Tree works are more than capable of taking care of themselves, excelling through their own sweat and creativity that ultimately produces Excellence”. Gregory has created a community that just buzzes with energy and joy …
Visiting Funky Frog
Funky Frog hopes you enjoy your visit! If you would like to follow us on Facebook or Instagram we would be delighted. Come for a visit and like us! Whenever we add something special to the site we will post it there as well.
Funky Frog’s Blog
Funky Frog’s Blog is where you can read about adventures hunting for beads, baskets and curios…. you can read about our visits to the Beads Artisans to get gorgeous recycled glass beads … or about how the Kokofrom Co-operative creates beautiful brass beads and findings …or about our Basket Co-operative Friends … check out the blogs if your interest is piqued here …..
But, what is quickly evident when you read the Blogs, the beads and baskets that Funky Frog brings to Canada are just a part of the whole story. This story is also about people just like us but living in circumstances that we cannot even imagine … Things we take so for granted can be used to reach out across the globe and every little sustainable bit is worth it!
During these difficult times certain things we have taken so for granted have become hard if not impossible to find. During lock down when masks became a necessity we had to scramble to find elastic and even sewing thread… I was lucky to have a large selection of African Batik Fabric that made amazing masks. And the hours spent painstakingly making and sewing these simple masks brought home again for me how much of a throw away society we have become. How far removed we are from the things we buy so easily and cheaply. The Pandemic has forced a lot of us to Think outside the Box.
This journey with Funky Frog is what got me thinking outside the box. This journey has taught me so much about being a Maker… an Artisan. It is always a jolt when someone says of my jewelry, “Boy, that’s expensive!” I have seen many of the beads being made as the Lost Wax Brass Beads and the Recycled Glass Beads are still being made in Ghana. Each brass bead starts with a Wax Form that is exactly the same as the finished bead. Imagine that! And then there is the long complicated process of transforming that wax form into brass … it is alchemy. Or how about the Recycled Glass Bead? Each Bead is hand painted … some with intricate designs. Or the ones that are made with different coloured glass … each colour is poured in on top the other .. a little work of art.. I have seen this done. Add that to the work that goes into creating a piece… this is always overlooked. The colours chosen … the design worked out. And yet when it comes to the consumer it comes down simply to is it cheap enough?
It is the same with the Bolga Baskets … when i first went looking for baskets in the Bolgatanga Region it was eyeopening for me. How naive i was… my dream was to go to the Market and buy straight from the Weaver. But there is a Middle Man at the market selling the baskets for the Weavers. Because we the Buyers want the basket at the lowest price and the Middle Man wants his share imagine how much is left for the Weaver! And when i tried to buy straight from the Weaver i felt the threat all around me. So i had the bright idea of going to Co-ops making baskets for Fairtrade Stores … i won’t mention names but i found one and i got all these beautiful baskets… very cheaply… Again i knew the Weaver was losing …. Finally i lucked out and stumbled on Baba Tree …. and knew i had found that perfect match for me. The baskets are definitely not cheap. No. They shouldn’t be!! These works of art are handmade and beautifully made. Baba Tree pays the Weavers a sustainable wage and for the specialty baskets they are paid a commission as well. They work in a beautiful environment where they are supported by a community. During the lockdown of the Pandemic rice was given to those in need.
Consumers must be jolted out of their selfish bubbles and be aware of what they are buying.Break it down for yourself …. work out how much the Maker gets for their efforts. Money is not the bottom line …. Fairness is. What is fair for you but also what is fair all the way down the line? Fairness is something the Pandemic has starkly highlighted and a silver lining of the Pandemic is one can feel a shift.
But as consumers we must both Think Outside the Box and look for Those who are also Thinking Outside the Box …. Thinking Outside the Box takes a lot of commitment… it takes a leap. Leapfrog is Funky Frog’s recognition of this.
Going to Ghana, West Africa had me leaping out of my box! And outside the box as a leapFrog I have met so many wonderful people who are working quietly and selflessly to make a difference……
Baba Baskets have become Funky Frog’s go to place for the gorgeous Bogatanga Baskets. And it is because of Gregory MacCarthy … such an extraordinary man. He is a Canadian now living in Bolgatanga. He is very blunt about his views. He says “Saving the poor Africans” is not a narrative that we employ. Charity often carries the subtle message: ‘’you are not capable of doing it yourselves.’’ The people with whom we work are very capable.” And he brings out the very best in the people he works with. There is no sense of ‘us and them’ with Gregory… He is very definitely at home in his community. And the product, the Baba Tree produces speaks volumes as to the amazing ability of this community! During these difficult times Baba Tree is quarantining like the rest of the world but the Weavers are still being paid to help them through … so awesome!!
G-lish Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Ghana, West Africa. The weavers make sustainable, hand-made baskets and wall art that generates incomes and choices for families. The above photo is Afil Atambire one of the baskets weavers. She has 6 children and 6 grandchildren! No wonder she has such a beautiful smile! The founders of G-lish Foundation are Godwin Yidana and Gayle Pescud who live in Australia.
In 2005, together with their five boys, Brigitte & Robert McKinnon embarked on a humanitarian trip to the jungle town of Pucallpa, in the Peruvian Amazon, to connect with two young girls they had sponsored to attend school. An eye opening experience, the family recognized a community in dire need of help, limited by a lack of access to education, housing, & healthcare. Returning home conscious of what felt like a forgotten community, the McKinnons & their five boys decided there had to be more they could do to help. Their solution came through the creation of the Pure Art Foundation, a registered Canadian charity, that would work to empower this community through health & education programs. Pure Art has a beautiful new home in Vaudreil-Dorion at 132 chemin de l’Anse where you can shop for beautiful Fairtrade Items like Baba Tree’s baskets. Phone ahead please 1-866-567-4325.
Silvia of Boutique Sisi under the Pink Awning on Victoria in Westmount also Thinks out the Box. The Boutique sells beautiful women’s clothes but she has also found room for Baba Tree’s Baskets because she fell in love with the gorgeous works of art and ‘gets it’! She also always makes room for Funky Frog’s ‘jewels’ … In fact one necklace is called ‘Silvia’s necklace’ because she has inspired so many to buy this funky piece!!
You too can be a leapFrog and take a leap outside the box! Be part of this circle that ripples outward…