Sunday, January 27, 2013

Freedom - Art - Beginnings

Yes, my title is a bit ambiguous. I am aware, however, I ask that you continue and I think you will 'begin' to understand.

I have been doing some reading lately on the various art forms that I use.  Currently, I am considered a jewelry maker, a beader.  For those who know me well, know that this in only one of the art forms that I work with.  It is the one that at the moment I concentrate on because it is where my passion is at the moment.  I am however, spreading my wings a bit, still with beads but for different creations.  But that is another story.

I started my beading journey as many do, simply stringing beads into a lovely assortment of necklaces and bracelets and then on to creating earrings.  I started with stones of various types, marble, jade and others and have a huge stash of unused beads.  I then moved on to Swarovski crystals and glass pearls, yep same thing,huge stash of unused beads.  Then I became inspired by seed beads and the enormous amount of designs that could be created using the different beading techniques for these and yes, I have a huge stash of those as well and continue to buy more.  Why you ask, well because I am not done with that particular art form, just not truly inspired at the moment.  I still use Swarovski and glass pearls as well, just not as much.  So suffice it to say, I am on the hunt.  Hunt for what you might ask.  Well for anything that is different, spectacular, out of the norm.

But I also wanted to make sure that I grow in my art form not only in designing and creation but in how I do business as well.  I made a decision to always check and make sure that I purchase my products from companies supporting Fair Trade goods.  I am not talking about  Free Trade which simply refers to the free movement of goods between countries.  Fair trade means the workers are provided safe working conditions and environment, there is no slave labor or children used in the production of these goods and the workers are paid a living wage for their area.

So in my search, I found what many of you may already have found, a) there are not really that many companies who can prove they support Fair Trade.  For my purposes, beading, I went looking of course, for beads and I found 3 sources of beads that I have absolutely fallen in love with.  Now because writing about this took form way too quickly in my head and I had to get it down or lose my train of thought, Yeah comes with age, lol, I could only find a couple of photos to show you what I found that I could use immediately.

In finding these beauties, I had to take a virtual trip to Uganda  (Mizuri Beads), Nepal (Samunnat and The Colorful Journey) and Kenya (Kazuri Bead Factory).  What I found was beyond amazing.  We all watch the news from time to time so we all know about slave trade, prostitution and the like.

Check out TripAdvisor Photos of Kazuri Bead Factoryfor photos is of the Kazuri Bead Factory in Kenya.  This was originally began by Lady Jane Wood, many years ago in a shed on her farm in Kenya (does 'Out of Africa' ring a bell) with 2 women. The reference to Out of Africa is to show you where this farm in Kenya is, the same farm used for this movie. Lady Wood wanted to find a way to enable the women of that area to become more self-sufficient and now many years later, there is a much larger facility employing about 350 women and they are paid at 3.5 times the average wage for Kenya.  They employ single mothers, widows and special needs women.  Many of these women provide support for 15-20 extended family members from their wages.  This has enabled women to free themselves from the disadvantages of a country where women were not allowed to work and many were sold as slaves or prostitutes to the highest bidder by their families.

These photo shows the wide array of beauty that is created by these women.  The beads are rolled and formed by hand much like we do with our polymer clay.  However, the material these women work with is clay from the Mt. Kenya area and is dug by hand for this and other purposes.  Then they are fired in a kiln, removed, painted and refired.  The designs are typical African designs from their area and their history.  Can we say "AWESOME".

Another area that I found was in Nepal.  In this area of Jhapa Nepal a group of people decided to help a few women who had come to them for help in escaping domestic violence and trafficking. Thus Samunnat was formed.  You can read more about this at A Colorful Journey - Samunnat.  There is a Samunnat shop on Etsy. Do visit the site and learn more about the amazing journey for amazing people who deserve our support.

Now let's travel to Uganda.  We have all heard of Uganda in the news and the conditions there as I have found continue to be horrid and especially for women. I give you Mizuri Beads.  These beads can be found in the US in many bead and gem shows and other shops as well.  You can purchase them wholesale, but the purpose of this information is to give to you the background and tell you from whence they came.  Please read their story here. Story and Ethics of Mizuri Beads.  Also visit this link to see the beauty created by these women and the barkcloth beads have been made for hundreds of years, so their history is phenomenal as well.  Mizuri Beads Blog.  Just scroll down to see all the beauty.

So yes my title is a bit ambiguous, but apt I believe.  Our freedom comes from our art and our art comes from going back to the beginnings and realizing that we all have the ability to provide support to one another and to support our world.  We can do our part in making sure that others like us are protected, given the ability to become self-sustaining and to feel like they are doing their part to take care of our families and our world as well as make sure that they are safe while doing this.

I hope that you have enjoyed my ramblings today.  If so, please leave a comment.

Be blessed

1 comment:

Faith said...

The sari beads are lovely and lacy filigree style, all hand made..lovely.