Last January I was in the Vi Bella workshop in Haiti watching them hammer slivers of aluminum. The artisan would take each piece, grab her hammer, and start tapping away. What many people wouldn’t know is that when I say something is hand hammered, I mean it, literally. They don’t build these necklaces with already finished pieces. Sometimes they have to work on the raw material BEFORE they can create the product.
I’d like to introduce you to the Kalahari. This beautiful statement piece necklace is truly a hand hammered piece. I watched as the artisans hammered sliver after sliver. Let me really set the stage. The workshop is a cement block building with no A/C. The women sit at tables on folding chairs. You hear the tap tap of the hammers and the sound of production. But then you hear laughter as they are sharing stories and building community. One artisan was about 8 1/2 months pregnant. She was told she could go home and rest and she just shook her head and smiled. “No, I want to stay.” As all this is going on, I can smell food cooking in the tiny kitchen. One of the artisans is making everyone lunch. It’s not like here where you can just jump in your car and head to the local fast food restaurant for lunch. No one has a car and their are no fast food places. One of the perks at Vi Bella is getting lunch. So as we sat and ate together, I observed. What was I eating? I am not really sure. It was chicken, rice, with okra and veggies. It was good. I listened as each woman shared stories and laughed together. This truly was a community group.
When I look at the Kalahari necklace, I am transported back to that workshop on that Tuesday morning. That necklace is so much more that a beautiful piece. It’s about a beautiful life, it’s about the artisans of Vi Bella.