I’m Kate Jane Bruce, I am creative part of two rich cultures which drives me to create fun playful handmade statement designer jewellery. Born in London and of Ghanaian heritage I fuse my cultural influences to create designs that symbolise urban London style with the rich culture and art from Ghana. One of my greatest finds in Ghana were aggry beads – the very ones that my Great Aunt used to make and trade– which were once so valuable they were used as currency in Ghana.
Aggry beads are all unique – full of life and character. They are made the same way today as they were 100’s of years ago and are valued just as much in Ghana.
My cultural connection to what I do is extremely important. Knowing bead making is a family tradition drives me and is something I feel very passionate about! Jewellery enables me to illustrate my thoughts, I make because I know no other way and I infuse my style and emotions. I create this type of jewellery because it a is a definition of who I am and I want my daughter to know and understand the value of her heritage.
Katiico Jewellery- More than just me!
Researching the traditional production of glass beads in Ghana on the internet one evening, I came across an article about Teshie house. This place sounded very familiar to me. I had travelled to Ghana before to see my fathers family and remembered our family home was called Teshie house. situated in James Town, Central Accra. I read on intrigued to see my ancestry mentioned in a seemingly random internet article.
The article mentioned an elder woman lady called Elizabeth Bruce with a photo of her sitting by a kiln. A traditional clay oven used to fire the beautiful beads… I noted she had the same surname as me! another coincidence! At this point I knew they was a direct family connection nobody had mentioned before. This was my epiphany! I asked my father for some more family information and he told me my Grandfather’s family owned a well established bead makers and merchants business during the the 1900’s, the great Elizabeth Bruce of the article was in fact my Grand-aunt. Was this fate or what!
My late Great Aunt Elizabeth Bruce of the famous bead dealership Teshie House in Accra, Ghana. She was 91 when the writer of the original article took this picture of her in 1990. She is demonstrating how she used to cook Koli beads.
I had no idea that jewellery making was part of my history. it was something that I had always enjoyed doing, but finding out this family connection solidified my feelings towards what I was doing; I then knew I was going in the right creative direction and that Katiico Jewellery was more than just me! I was picking up the baton and continuing the journey of my ancestors had started long before me!