Sunday, July 10, 2011

Angela Clark and Ethiopia

I have been going to Boutique Beads for a couple of years now.
It is on St Georges Rd next to my friend Pauline's bar, Monkey Bar.
Boutique Beads is owned and run by Angela Clark, an inspiring woman, who on a number of occasions has helped me source beads as well as help me with technical issues dealing with beads and beading.
This year Angela traveled to Ethiopia on a self funded trip where she was asked to go to Adis Ababa to help twin girls Tigist and Haimanote, with their fledgling jewellery business. Angela not only provided design ideas and technical advice, she also raised money to buy products that she took to help the women enhance their work.
An inspiring project, run by a very generous maker.
The history of beads is also a history of trade and culture and sharing. An important aspect of the cultural significance of jewellery.

I asked Angela some questions on this project:

all images were taken at Boutique Beads in Melbourne

1. How did you get involved in this project?
The project in Ethiopia was essentially to help twins, Tigist and Haimanot who run a fledgling jewellery business in Addis Ababa.
Tigist and Haimanot have been making jewellery for a few years now and sell at an NGO bazaar once a month in Addis.

I got involved through acquaintances in the "bead world" here in Melbourne. Margaret Mueller and Dr Deborah Zinn from the Bead Society of Victoria, have been supporting and mentoring the twins for a number of years, but now they needed some extra assistance with design ideas and new techniques..... that's where I came in.

 2. Tell me about the project.
Upon arriving in Addis I met the twins and spent each day of my two weeks with them.
The twins extra knowledge and skills not only helps them, but their ability to work and earn an income provides a flow on affect in their community.
The twins have been most recently training other Ethiopian women through the Trampled Rose foundation who are looking for skills to provide them with incomes.

3. Would you do this again?
 I would do this again and am in fact planning to go back early next year to work with the twins and other groups of women.

4. Where did you get funding to this?
The trip and work was self funded, but my customers and friends donated some money through a night I had selling my jewellery, anything that was purchased on the night, the money went to buying materials for the girls.
It is very hard for the girls to access stringing materials and findings etc, so I took a lot of useful materials that would work with the metal beads they use.

5. What did you learn from this experience?
I have not run anything quite like this before, but am keen to get to other areas where beading and jewellery making can be used to provide women with additional income, not to mention the sheer joy that comes with the sharing and creativity of it. 

6. What is it that you like most about teaching?
I have run workshops with marginalized youth in Melbourne , Aboriginal elders, art programmes in schools and with the elderly. Teaching for me is a way of sharing knowledge and the pleasure of creating a unique wearable piece of art. Watching how the simplicity of making a piece of jewellery can transform a person, no matter who or where they are is a sheer pleasure for me.

7. Where did you learn your skills?
My jewellery skills are all self taught. From my earliest memories I have always been making things with my hands. I played with jewellery making on and off over the years but it was so hard to find unique beadable items, which in turn led me to opening my boutique in Melbourne.

Boutique Beads
179 St Georges Rd
North Fitzroy 3068
03 482 4021