Meet Ghana’s only professional glassblower, Michael Tetteh. Tetteh uses repurposed materials such as TV screens, window panes, and soda bottles to create a wide range of art pieces. While in France and the Netherlands in 2012, he was introduced to the art of glassblowing.
Tetteh, 44, returned to his hometown of Odumase-Krobo in Ghana’s Eastern Region and opened a glassblowing shop. According to Reuters, the community is also the center of Ghana’s traditional glass bead culture.
In Tetteh’s case, money did not impede his goals. He built furnaces out of scrap metal and clay using online tutorials, even though he had no capital. Tetteh honed his skills by watching YouTube videos of well-known glass artists like America’s Dale Chihuly.
Tetteh sees his business as a way to help Ghana’s glass waste be reduced. Data cited by Reuters shows that Ghana imports $300 million in glass and ceramic products each year, with more than 79 percent of that coming from the world’s largest glass exporter, China.
The majority of these imported glasses and ceramics end up in various landfills and scrap yards or get scattered on the streets. Tetteh uses them to create unique and beautiful products. Among the boutiques in Ghana and the Ivory Coast are some of his works. According to Reuters, some have also been displayed in art galleries in Europe and the United States.
Tetteh isn’t just hoarding his talents for his amusement. To help him out, he’s hired and trained a few interns. The majority of the new employees he hires come from Odumase-Krobo, where he hopes they will go on to run their businesses shortly.
For me, the most important thing is to teach young Ghanaians how to do this work as a career, so that we can all benefit from the growth of our country. We will not purchase the materials we need in Ghana from suppliers in countries such as China. Tetteh told Reuters: “I want to make Ghana beautiful.”