One of the new activities offered by the Finca Esperanza Verde since I was there last time was the opportunity to do a jewelry making workshop with Las Mujeres del Plomo – a women’s collective in the nearby community of El Plomo.
Those of you who know me know that I love jewelry, and my souvenir of choice when I travel these days is a piece of hand-crafted jewelry – especially if I can buy it directly from the artisan themselves. Even better if I can work with the artisan and make it myself, so this was the perfect activity for me!
The jewelry is actually made of seeds gathered from the local area, predominantly by children in the community. The 4 women in the collective (Maritza, Yorlene, Melba and Gloria) purposefully include children in the endeavour to teach them about the plants in their region, caring for their environment and give them the opportunity to earn a little money. The kids look for specific seeds but can also bring in other natural things they find that they think are interesting.
Martiza worked with me to design (the hardest bit for me) and make a bracelet.
I was limited to the types of seeds that were collected recently (obviously it is a seasonal thing) and really loved the seeds from the Guanacaste tree. But the trick was to break up the repetitive pattern of Guanacaste seed (dark brown and black with a yellow-ish dividing line) and the Platanillo seeds (small, round, black seeds) with an “accent” seed. In the end we decided on the deep burgundy seed from the Guapinol tree and set to work.
Given the seeds had already had very fine holes drilled, the first step was to strip the wax from the thread that would hold the whole thing together. Then it was just a matter of threading the seeds according to the pattern, tying some knots to separate the accent Guapinol seed from the rest, tying some more fancy knots so that I could expand the bracelet to get it on and off, and then finish off with a polish (baby oil) which really bought the bracelet to life.
Although it is not the type of jewelry I usually wear, I’m really, really happy with the final product!
And I’m really glad that Vivianne (owner of Finca Esperanza Verde who also joined me for my visit) advised me afterwards to avoid getting it wet — after all, it could sprout!
The full story behind this special group of 4 women is pretty incredible and I encourage you to visit if you are in Nicaragua to learn more, chat with these amazing women and enjoy a fabulous jewelry making experience while you are at it!