Yesterday I featured a beautiful boho inspired jewellery collection by Soul Design and today we get to take a peak into their jewellery studio situated in the Bo Kaap. You’ll find their jewellery online and at selected stockists but Abi encourages people to come to her studio as they can make up bespoke orders and much more.
I got to have two personalised necklaces made up for me – what a wonderful experience being able to pick your own necklace style, beads and charms. Thank you Abi and Nontembe!
Hop down for a fabulous Q & A with Abi to find out more about the design process…
How did your brand start?
I have been been obsessed with beads and making jewellery since I was about 10! But I started making jewellery properly while I was working in textile design in Zambia when I first moved to Africa in 2005. I set up a small woman’s group making earrings and necklaces from locally found guinea fowl and bird feathers, porcupine quills, handmade wooden beads and sold them to the guests staying at all the smart safari lodges in the area.
It grew over the years, but really started to develop when I moved to Cape Town in 2010.
How has your jewellery evolved since then?
I have always remained true to the ethos of ‘handmade in Africa’ in my designing, utilising the skills of artisans around Africa, but my jewellery has developed far more in terms of materials used – brass in particular. My range is far more refined than it used to be – I was more into chunky necklaces and beads, now it is more about a more delicate look with chain and intricate beaded necklace styles – but still keeping to a boho feel to the designs.
How do you source your beads and precious stones?
I’ve always travelled a lot around Africa for my work as an interior designer for safari lodges, and I make a point of seeking out beads, stones, materials that can be used in jewellery and local craftsmen in the countries I visit… I’ve brought cowhorn beads in Zambia, Ethiopian silver beads, Ghanian brass beads, recycled glass beads from Mali, brass in Kenya….
You have a lot of hand cut brass in your range. Can you briefly explain the process of how your brass pieces are made?
Brass is very durable and common in Africa so it’s a great material to use in jewellery. Photocopies of the design are placed on the brass sheet, then cut with a small hacksaw and small rings are welded on to make our charms.
What motivates you?
Being creative, I love the process of design and making the pieces. I also love working with the people I do – Fred, my brassmith in Kenya, Nontembe who runs the production side of things in Cape Town… and sourcing the beads!
3 things that inspire you…
Africa, nature and traditional jewellery designs from tribes around Africa – ‘Africa adorned’ by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher is the most amazing source of inspiration.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Keeping all the aspects of the business together – organising production, accounts, marketing…being the one in charge of it all can have its toll…you have to love jewellery.
Anything exciting that you’re working on?
We are creating a range of ‘sustainable Africa’ bracelets for a safari marketing company, each bracelet has the colours of different African countries and the idea is to highlight sustainable tourism. I always look forward to designing trips to Kenya and working on new range – I’ll be there again in June.
Any tips for someone starting out as a jewellery designer?
Go for it! And if you love it, keep going, through good and slower times…
Image credits: Studio tour photography: Lana Kenney & Brass making process: Soul Design