Meet Michael Tetteh, Ghana’s only professional glassblower. Tetteh produces a variety of pieces using recycled TV screens, window panes and soda bottles. The Ghanaian entrepreneur was introduced to glassblowing in 2012 when he went to France and the Netherlands to learn the craft.
Upon his return to Ghana, Tetteh, 44, went to establish a glassblowing shop in Odumase-Krobo, in the Eastern Region of Ghana, where he comes from. The community also happens to be the epicenter of Ghana’s traditional glass bead culture, according to Reuters.
Tetteh did not allow money to become a stumbling block to his ambition. With no capital, he built furnaces from scrap metal and clay using online tutorials. Tetteh honed his skills by watching YouTube videos of well-known glass artists like America’s Dale Chihuly.
Tetteh said he views his business venture as his contribution towards reducing Ghana’s glass waste. Data cited by Reuters shows that Ghana imports $300 million in glass and ceramic products each year, with more than 79% 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 collects them to make amazing items. His pieces can be found in boutique shops in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Some have also appeared in European and American art galleries, according to Reuters.
Tetteh is not keeping his skills to himself. He has trained and hired some young individuals to work with him. Those he recruits are mainly from Odumase-Krobo, who he hopes will one day operate their own workshops.
“My heart is to train young Ghanaians, both men and women, so they can also learn this job as their professional work, and we can grow Ghana. We will not go to any country like China to buy the material we want to use in Ghana. I want to make Ghana beautiful,” Tetteh told Reuters.