Jewelry designer, Elhaj Mamadou Pene Diagne of Senegal, may only have a few basic tools, but he can make an amazing traditional woven hollow wire bracelet as you can see from this video. He wove the bracelet using twisted wire strands. He also wove around beads continuously from the bracelet which is then later separated. This approach saves time and materials.

How does he get the wooden mandrel and beads off?  He burns it away with his torch!  He makes his own alloy solder.  He also makes an ingot which he files furiously away to make powder. The silver powder is then sprinkled on the bracelet and fused to create a rigid piece.

Here is another quick video which shows the key steps in the making of  a different design of a traditional Senegalese bracelet:

The videos were taken by the folks over at Toolbox Initiative, a "volunteer effort created by jewelers Matthieu Cheminée and Tim McCreight in 2014. The goal is to assist jewelers with limited resources through the collective strength of the metalworking community and to create new connections worldwide."

They explained, "While we are not a registered non-profit, we have no profit motives, and strive only to bring tools and supplies to worthy craftsmen in impoverished areas."

As they pointed out, "Jewelers in West Africa create wonderful jewelry using only basic tools, often recycling discarded materials and making their own equipment as needed. Those of us who have worked alongside these artists are moved to extend a helping hand, knowing that a gift of even a single tool can make a significant difference in these talented hands.

You can make a difference by donating used tools or supporting the purchase of new tools which volunteers take to West Africa.

This very short video shows West African workshops which are open to the street or marketplace.

Making jewelry is one thing. Getting the raw material is another.  This video is about finding gold and reclaiming silver in West Africa. The first scene is a garbage strewn rocky beach in Dakar, Senegal where a man works all day to recover a tiny bit of gold.  The second part shows a group of Guinean men "refining scraps from a jewelry workshop. They use fire, acid and a sluice to recover every pennyweight of silver."  Nothing is ever wasted.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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