Monday, October 24, 2011

Self- Sustaining Jewelry Making

Artisans at CHO making necklaces

I am a relative newbie when it comes to making jewelry. I came to Cambodia to teach art to children and women, help others tell their life stories using art as a bridge, share Jesus and His love through my art/visual storytelling and draw/paint personal responses to what I was experiencing. Bottom line, however, is - I show up and God works. Showing up means I am available, at times, for all kinds of stuff. Teaching art now includes teaching jewelry-making in Cambodia.

My students were young adults, teens and their teacher, Heng. A gifted seamstress and collaged card maker, Heng is an amazing new friend who has a daughter at Safe Haven. All the students are trying to make an income outside the slave labor/sex trafficked life. I began my jewelry making class by showing them a necklace from Shelley Clay's Apparent Project based in Haiti. ( I have supported Shelley for a while now by buying her artisans' work and giving their nacklaces as gifts around the world. 

We were not going to make paper beads as Shelley's artisans do, at least not right now, but I wanted to show them a small, finished piece with a simple clasp. I had brought some supplies to make a few really polished pieces and many, simple pieces to do at Safe Haven. I had to teach fast, as my days were running out in Poipet.

We pushed aside the collaged card materials and set up a spot to start stringing beads. As the beads fell off the strand, I carefully showed them how to put on a clasp. (I had learned not much earlier than they!) I had also brought two books on necklace making and beading 101. They really seemed to love those books. The pictures helped with language difficulties.

After about 25 necklaces, we ran out of clasps. Someone hopped on a moto to look in the market for clasps. We had found pin backings for the fabric pins earlier, so I was hopeful. Nope. The moto driver came back empty handed. The clasps would have to be bought in Thailand. How frustrating for these new artisans. They took it with tremendous grace. I promised that the next visitor from my church would bring some in a few days - and she did! 

I just wish I could drive over to these dear ones for some more training along with some supplies in bulk. Hopefully, others will join alongside them in the days ahead. Their necklaces will be sold in the Hope Transformation Center in Poipet, Cambodia. The Center is well worth your visit! (I know, I know, it is far away.)

Here is the seamstress/artist "Teacher" at New Bloom, Heng,
and more importantly, my friend.
I gave her the necklace I had brought from Haiti as a thank you gift!

Be not weary in your serving;
Do your best for those in need;
Kindnesses will be rewarded
By the Lord who prompts the deed. —Anon.

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