What truly great news it was to hear that statement from our Prime Minister. Since March 2020, the first lockdown in Mauritius, it has been very difficult for artists and crafters such as Jean Claude and I to earn a living. Our business, Studio 44 Mauritius, has suffered and we have had to re-invent ourselves.
One year ago we started discussions with a non-profit foundation, PURPLE LIME NPC LIMITED, who were keen on our idea of a craft academy. Not only to offer training to hobbyists, but to train those from disadvantaged communities and assist them in establishing their own small businesses. Our STUDIO 44 MAURITIUS CRAFT ACADEMY had been going for some time but we had never really developed it because we had plenty of tourists purchasing our handcrafted glass products and our products were being sold in many hotel shops. However, with the closing of the borders and the drop in revenue, one year ago it was the ideal time to develop the idea and fulfil our dream of developing crafts in Mauritius. Not only stained glass, slumped and fused glass and Italian glass for beadmaking, which was the material we worked with the most, but the other crafts which we also enjoy such as pewter, metal embossing, silver art clay, polymer clay, glass mosaic, resin, etc. There is so much potential for the development of crafting in Mauritius, which could lead to the island offering tourists souvenirs which are made locally instead of the usual range imported from the Eastern countries in bulk, much of which is then labelled “Made in Mauritius” before being put onto the shelves in the tourist shops. Unfortunately there seems to be no control whatsoever on this practice and this is putting many local crafters out of business.
In October 2020 we decided to join forces with PURPLE LIME NPC LIMITED to establish THE CREATIVE QUARTER which is a centre for training in arts and crafts and is situated in the grounds of the old MOUNT SUGAR ESTATE at THE MOUNT. At the end of February 2021 we left our studio/shop in Calodyne, where we had been for many years.
Our new home is in a building which used to house the laboratory at The Mount Sugar Estate. It is surrounded by a canopy of very old trees and there is lots of green space. At lunchtime one can relax on the grass under the trees and listen to the song of the birds, of which there are many. It is a very peaceful environment to work in. We love to welcome visitors who pop in to say hello and discover the many workshops we and the other instructors offer and we encourage you to come and enjoy a relaxing morning and discover and stimulate your creativity. You can go home with something you have made yourself and have that satisfaction. Who knows, perhaps it will become a passion, just like beadmaking in the flame has become my passion. The other instructors work in pottery clay, sewing techniques, woodworking, etc. You are sure to find something to suit your desires. We are very flexible and do classes for adults and children and can tailor something to suit your needs.
We have established without any doubt, over the past 4 years, that tourists are looking for authentic, high quality, innovative products which are made on the island and are also looking for the experience of visiting a workshop/studio and seeing the products made by hand. It adds a value to the souvenir which is incomparable with buying something off a shelf in a large retail outlet.
There are not many raw materials in Mauritius which can be used for the crafts which I have mentioned above. Almost everything must be imported and the freight cost is sometimes at 50 – 100% of the raw materials. This is an area where the Government could assist artisans.
Studio 44 Mauritius has been a member of “made in Moris”, an established trademark, which ensures that the product is indeed manufactured locally, with an established percentage of local content. “made in Moris” has very strict norms which must be met before an enterprise is accepted into the label. They are trying very hard to get the hotel shops to support local artists and crafters more, in order to offer a more authentic experience to the tourist.
Jean Claude and I decided earlier this year to develop a new line for Studio 44 Mauritius based on circular design in a circular economy. We are now working with glass bottles which are crushed and made into various home deco items or cut into strips and melted in the flame to make glass beads, or simply cut and used as small planters, snack trays, glasses etc or painted with beautiful designs to use for home decor. We believe that this is the way to go in the future. With the enormous quantity of empty glass bottles generated on the island, especially when the hotels are full, there is a desperate need to do more with them to avoid them going into landfills. The products we have manufactured so far for home deco and jewellery have been very well received and in the months to come we will be innovating and introducing more variety to this production line.
We have also launched our own online shop where you can find gifts at very reasonable prices. If you go to our website http://www.studio44mauritius.com you will see the website and can go into the shop. The prices are special launch prices for existing stock and we hope that you will browse our shop and think about supporting us when you shop for your end of year gifts.
We have just completed a large order for gifts for a wedding – beautiful little wedding favours in their organza bags which will be well received as a lot of work and passion has gone into their production. Handcrafted unique flameworked (lampworked) beads made from beautiful Italian glass rods which are imported from Venice and the island of Murano. We pride ourselves on producing quality and having happy, satisfied clients. This is how we have established our good name over the past 19 years since we opened our studio in Roches Noires where we live. From here we moved to Calodyne and now to The Mount to our new premises.
We are also working on a large corporate order which combines our beautiful handpainted slumped glassware and our stainless steel (dishwasher safe) serving utentils to which we add our lampworked glass beads handcrafted by us from Italian glass.
We hope that companies will think of us for their end of year gifts whether it be jewellery, glassware, stainless steel utensils or recycled glass home deco items.
Please feel free to contact either Jean Claude on 59368660 or myself (Barbara) on 57220980 should you need directions or have any questions about our products.
We wish you a happy week filled with success in whatever you do.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
Barbara Desvaux de Marigny
STUDIO 44 MAURITIUS, THE MOUNT.