Jewelry Making Class

The last two trips to Canaan gave me the seed for a question. The gift/knowledge that I have, is it possible to share with others who so lack basic resources to help them in some way?

With the sharing grace of the Metalwerx community in Waltham, Massachusetts, we made wedding rings for the brides in Canaan, Haiti in 2018. This was a heartwarming project, not only for the receivers but also the givers. After I moved to California, I joined another jewelry guild group at the Palo Alto Art Center (PAAC). To the members of PAAC, I proposed the idea of teaching how to make beaded jewelry to the women of Canaan, Haiti. That is when I met geologist/jeweler Leslie Gordon who wanted to go and teach the women in Canaan Haiti.

The original trip was planned for the 3rd week of February 2019; however, because of the unrest in Haiti at that time, the trip was delayed.  This turned out to be a blessing as the additional time allowed Leslie and me to be better prepared for the jewelry teaching classes that took place in Haiti.

In July, we arrived in Canaan, Haiti with over 50 pounds of donated beads, tools, and materials that we collected from our generous studio mates, who also helped with sorting and packaging to make over 80 bead kits and 10 tool kits.  Further, we brought many finished jewelry pieces that were also donated. Leslie and I taught a class for 4 days, Monday through Thursday, with each class having approximately 20 women and lasting 3-4 hours.  Even in the heat and humidity of mid-day Haiti, we literally had to ask the women to leave at the end of class as they continued to stay and work on their jewelry.  At the end of each class, the participants voted on the 5 best jewelry pieces. The winners were then allowed to select a prize from the finished jewelry items that we brought with us and asked to return on Thursday for a more advanced jewelry class.

  At the end of the advanced class on Thursday, Leslie and I selected 5 women who seemed to show most passion and capability to start a jewelry business.  These women were given the leftover tools and beads with which they could pursue their business aspirations.  We asked the women to meet regularly and work together as a group. They agreed to team up, support each other and be accountable to one another.  The excitement shared by the women was palpable and inspiring.  

  It was an amazing experience for both Leslie and me to be able to share this whole process. There was so much joy, passion, the eagerness to learn with lots of sweat! Yes, it was hot, hot and hot. Leslie and I bathed in our own sweat while we were running around showing the women how to make different things. But at the end of each day, she and I fell asleep with such happy tiredness. For the people who are so short on resources, these beautiful colorful beads brought them not only jewelry but also the hope of a better life!

Wedding rings project

During the Haiti trip of 2017, I encountered 15 Canaan couples who were going to be married in December.  Hearing their stories inspired me to bring them the symbol of hope and love, wedding rings! 

As a jewelry designer and a previous studio member of Metalwerx (school and community studio for jewelry making in Waltham, MA), I shared this opportunity with the director of Metalwerx, Lindsay Minihan. She was so thrilled that she took charge of the logistics to make it come true. 

On November 22, 2017, right before Thanksgiving, 12 jewelry artists gathered to complete the project with donated gold scraps. The project was led by Metalwerx board member and master jeweler, Jeff Georgantes. From testing the donated items to melting and pouring metal into ingots and rolling it out to make the half round wire, the volunteers completed all of the milling processes. Afterwards, we each selected one or more Haitian couples from photographs …By the end of the day, all 15 rings had been fabricated, polished and packed up to send to Pastor Arthur. 

I revisited Canaan this past spring and was met by the married couples in a surprise party. It was so heartwarming, I wished all those ring making volunteers were there with me to receive the deep expressions of gratitude. One woman expressed how proud she is that these rings were mostly made by fellow women since the job of a metalsmith in Haiti is masculine work. 

This was truly an amazing sharing of community work with the spirit of giving and gratitude! 

Thank you Metalwerx!

Camino 2016

Like anything in life, a series of events occurred to get us to this point. From getting to know your neighborhood to a bigger community, we had started some charity work when our kids were younger. In 2012, the girls made acorn necklaces and sold them at local craft fairs.

To their astonishment, they were able to raise $500, which they donated to Hagar’s Sisters, a place for women experiencing domestic abuse. This was a profound moment for us, because we learned that we can have a positive impact on people’s lives.

After being involved in a few different charitable efforts over the years, we learned about the Camino de Santiago, a 1,000-year-old sacred pilgrimage through Europe. We devised a plan to create a family summer vacation of sorts while fundraising $5,000 to build a well in India through the organization Living Water. Our girls, Hannah and Jina, sent an email to our friends and family right before the trip, and the donations just kept increasing as we traveled through Portugal. We thought $1,000 would be a great accomplishment, but as we neared the end of our walk in Spain, we had already raised $3,500. There are few children on the Camino de Santiago, so many pilgrims were curious and supportive, which was very heartening.

One day, Hannah excitedly sent out an email stating, “we are actually so much closer to the goal than we had ever dreamed.”

We ended our trip surprised to find that we had raised $4,400! Right before Christmas, Hannah and Jina made cookies and soap to sell next to my jewelry stand in the local craft fair, which brought us to our goal of $5,000! We were able to raise the money!

We learned that if you have the right heart, and you can share that with others, there is no end to what can be done.