Some artisans embark on remarkable journeys. Melody MacDuffee, who comes from Alabama, started with fibre crochet. She then included fine wire in her work and grew from there. Melody is the author of a wonderful book called Lacy Wire Jewelry which I reviewed a while ago. There are also examples of her distinctive style of delicate wire work in her Etsy store, Melody Arts. My favorites are shown here.
|Melody MacDuffee's Amazonite Pin with 3 metals|
But Melody's jewelry making journey took off on a tangent when she answered a plea "Requesting you to come and teach us" in her inbox back in 2007. Melody explained, "It was written on behalf of some fifty bead artisans who live in two rural communities in the Krobo district in Ghana, West Africa." They wanted to learn how to make fancier kinds of jewelry from their traditional powder glass beads other than their tribal style of simply strung necklaces.
|Melody MacDuffee's Teal Crystal Wire Work Earrings|
100% of the proceeds from the sale of items in Melody's own Etsy store, including the cabochons and gemstone pendant bead fundraisers, go to this organization. The Soul of Somanya site chronicles the challenges faced in the early days. Melody credits the generosity of many people on this side of the ocean who volunteered their time and resources to make this organization a reality.
|Melody MacDuffee's OOAK Turquoise Cabochon Bracelet|
To say Melody is heavily involved in this project is an understatement. She commented in an email to me, "This project has been by far the biggest challenge - and the biggest joy - of my life. I'm not sure I'd know who I am anymore without it!"
"That's where my heart really is. Much as I love making my own style of jewelry, if making a living weren't an issue, I'd be living in Ghana developing sustainable products - not only jewelry, but textile and homemade paper products and who knows what else? But teaching and publishing keep me from having to take a salary for directing SoS, and it also gives me more chances to get information about Soul of Somanya out to people I might otherwise never meet. And I do enjoy it - it's my therapy."
Did you know archaeologists found the earliest powder glass beads dating back to around 970 - 1000 CE in South Africa? Today, much of this type of hand made glass beads come from Ghana and are crafted by the Krobo people. Check out how the Krobo use traditional and labor intensive techniques to make their recycled glass beads. Soul of Somanya have beautiful Krobo glass beads for sale both retail and wholesale. You can also buy them through Soul of Somanya's Etsy store which Melody runs
Soul of Somanya also sell ready made jewelry made from powder glass beads.
Some of the jewelry styles include the traditional Krobo tribal necklace strung with locally grown raffia.
The wire work earrings section of Soul of Somanya consist of designs based on "Adinkra" symbols. Adinkra are visual symbols originally created by the Akan people, an ethnic group living in southern Ghana and the Ivory Coast. They use these artistic elements to represent concepts or aphorisms.
|GYE DWENINIMMEN (Strength and Humility) Earrings|
|NYKIMKYIM (Adaptability and Grace Under Hardship) Earrings|
|GYE NYAME (God is Supreme) Earrings|
It is quite a challenge to get the artisans materials needed to produce jewelry and ship finished goods to market for these young artisans. Finding markets is also another issue. Check out the many other ways you can help here.
Before You Go:
- Samunnat Nepal - Polymer Clay Artisans from the Roof of the World
- Richard Francis Burton and African Trade Beads
- How to Make Elephant Inspired Jewelry Tutorials
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips