FOUND – Making jewellery from marine debris

By October 7, 2020Inspiration

Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do

Wendell Berry

From a young age my parents instilled in me a deep appreciation and love for nature through leading by example. I knew the names of bushveld birds and trees long before I could string proper sentences together and many of my childhood holidays were spent in rock pools exploring and snorkelling come rain or shine. I practically grew up in a tent. My dad is the bushveld and my mom the ocean. To share in their love for these wild places through adventures across our continent has helped me understand that the basics are enough, a plan can always be made and that nature is our most powerful teacher. These truths have become the framework I’ve built my life upon.

As much as adventuring and exploring was at the order of the day growing up, there were tough times too. I have always found the world to be an overwhelming place, finding sufficient emotional and mental safe spaces eluded me. My experience without these spaces that allow for rest in times of need was unbearable. Many years on, cultivating these safe spaces have become a priority – creating being one of them. I spent a great deal of life trying to separate my personal journey from that of my career, it was a futile exercise. My creative journey started long before I could tangibly step into it. I started creating as an escape, a shelter from a harsh world and at times what felt like an uncontrollable reality. The desire to create comes from my inner child’s desire to play. To play in a space where anything is possible, where the imagination dreams up the far-fetched, lopsided, most offbeat and wonderful things to create without limits, especially no time limits. A space that is warm, gentle and quiet. A space where shadow and light, feelings of discomfort and comfort, of right and wrong can be explored without conflict. The creative journey has been nothing but a journey to heal what is broken to become brave and step into the light, to turn fear into fierce confidence. It has been the most intimate journey of all. It is my voice.

I started out as a jeweller with the jewellery tools from university that consisted of a range of files and pliers mostly. I saved up just enough money to buy a second hand operated metal roller. To this day these are the tools that tell my story. I didn’t want to wait until I had enough money saved before setting up studio. I wanted to start with what I have, right there where I was. When it comes to my creative dreams the desire to begin has always been greater than the fear of failing. I enjoy the challenge minimal tools bring to the table. I cherish not having to rely on the conventional idea of what jewellery should look like when a full range of jewellery making equipment is at play. Limitations became an inspiration and a strength both in personal and business worlds. I made jewellery from anything and everything specialising in found objects and alternative metals – the brass I used was sourced from guys welding radiators together down the road; my copper came from a plumber that would pass by the studio on his way to the scrap yard to cash in. It has been a way of life long before I moved to Cape Town. It has been the way I make jewellery since I started.

In 2015 I had the privilege of spending six weeks in rural Northern Mocambique, on the shores of Lake of Malawi to start a pilot project on sustainable jewellery making through creative thinking. The project curriculum I created was based on laying foundation through building relationship, literally just spending time together, living simply, returning to basics and using resources only available to us in our immediate surroundings. We succeeded in making a purely handmade sustainable jewellery range from start to finish with only what we had. Clay from the ground, water from lake Malawi, string handmade from the bark of the Rope tree, holes dug in the ground with fire made in them as kilns. Returning home my vision was refined and I wanted to bring back that level of handmade sustainability to my everyday jewellery practice here in Cape Town.

Needless to say that meeting The Beach Co-op (TBC) and bringing out this range of jewellery has been a beautiful coming together of passion and purpose. Collaborating and finding organisations with correlating visions are powerful. FOUND – a range of jewellery specifically made from washed up beach litter collected during New Moon beach cleanups at Surfers Corner, Muizenberg was the next step in proving that sustainability has a powerful purpose within everything we do. Dedicating the FOUND range to TBC – an organisation with an authentic and strong ocean conservation and educational voice gave it ultimate purpose. Each piece sold raises money to fund critical ocean conservation projects. Since joining forces with TBC I have had the privilege of delving into conservation circles I could only have dreamed of. To rub shoulders with women with strong identities, powerful voices, confident in their vision and leading by example through pioneering their way through life has reminded me of why I started and who I still want to become.

We need to rethink our approach to what waste is and steer it in a direction of what it can be, our approach to instant gratification and our popular discarding culture needs to be taken under the microscope. As consumers we have great responsibility, with it comes powerful consequences. What we buy and how we discard of it is pivotal. So, as much as this range makes a strong stand about how we approach the discarding of plastic and where it ends up, it celebrates the unconventional solutions to everyday problems that actually exist.
Bigger isn’t always better, more isn’t always more. When we start to understand that living within our means, doing what we can within our own mental, physical and emotional capacity is where we will find our truth; our lives take on a whole new meaning.

Expanding my business does not lie in expanding my bank account or the amount of people I employ, expanding my business means expanding my mind. There is power in collaboration and empowering through creative thinking is what brings about change.

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