MAURITIUS IS OPEN !!!

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.

Kind regards

Barbara Desvaux de Marigny

STUDIO 44 MAURITIUS, THE MOUNT.

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11 months left …

Well, 2018 has come and one month has already passed us by. It has been a turbulent start with 3 cyclones in the Indian Ocean in 3 weeks and then one week of torrential rains in Mauritius which caused more flooding and hardship to many of our poorest citizens, who have built their houses in lower lying areas. At least the sun has come out again, although the humidity is almost unbearable and the mosquitoes are making up for  time lost.

We had a wonderful break at the seaside, although we did not have much sun, but sat for days watching the rain fall and with the third cyclone named Berguitta we were not sure if we were in for a really big one. Luckily it weakened from an Intense Tropical Cyclone down to a Severe Tropical Storm and although it went south with the centre just off our east coast, there was not all that much damage to buildings, except for flooding, but many trees fell down as the earth was completely saturated once the winds arrived.

Not being able to lie on the beach and get a good tan, we read lots of books, played cards and did some gardening.

Its strange though how the weather affects us. I have not been able to really get going yet this year. I have so many ideas for new creations, but with the unsettled, hot, humid weather I just don’t have much energy to start on new projects.

I was lucky to be able to purchase a collection of African Trade Beads from a lady who lived in Africa where she managed to buy some really beautiful beads. These 15th to 16th century trade beads which were made from Murano glass will be combined with my 21st century beads made from Italian glass manufactured in Murano. So, it will be a merger of the old and the new. It will take me a few weeks to make a stock of suitable beads to go with these beautifully patterned trade beads and I am busy designing the finished necklaces.

Browsing through the fashion colors, jewelry and trends for 2018 today, I believe its going to be a year filled with fun and color! Fringes, plaids, frills, feathers, etc and the beautiful palette of colors we have to work with is really exciting and I am looking forward to seeing what designers create.

Well, I hope this year to blog on a regular basis. However, being just my husband and I each with our own studio and the showroom to look after, there is sometimes just not the time available to write, as much as I love doing my little blog.

Take care and until next time keep smiling and be grateful for your blessings.

New meaning to the term CHOKE HOLD!

Exciting jewelry trends for the new season – I am off to my torch to lamp work!

Its interesting to browse through the sites to see the jewelry trends for the new season. The new CHOKE HOLD designs will hopefully not have the same effect on the wearers! Some of them are so wide that only those women with beautiful long necks will be able to carry off the look. Perhaps to make a statement at a gala event or on the red carpet? Chanel has a beautiful wide bead choker in blue and grey beads. The Christian Dior asymmetrical chain choker is also interesting. It gives me an idea for chain with a nice focal bead on one side. 

I’ve been busy lamp working some intricate bicone beads with matching spacers, for our recently launched 3-piece chokers. The first batch of chokers sold out very quickly and the beads on the new batch will be in the new season’s colors.

I love the versatile single-earring trend. Whether asymmetrical in shape or length, the beauty is in the irregularity. I have a client who has been doing this for years – she is usually ahead of the trend! I love making earrings with silver-plated wire and my lamp worked beads and crystals, so this is exciting.

The richly hued brass, the metal of the moment, goes beautifully with the Africa animal beads I love to make.  Now I need to find some interesting brass pieces. Lately I have been considering starting to do the metal work myself. The new magazine, Artisan Jewellery Times http://www.artisanjewelrytimes.com has tempted me. It would be nice to design the piece from scratch, instead of relying on what is available commercially.

I am designing some wire wound rings to showcase my beads in which I use silver foil, murrini and silver reactive glass. They take a while to make but with the different layers and elements are fascinating.

For those addicted to seed beading, the chunky, earthy pieces ideal for retro-fit babes are a dream come true. There is so much one can do with seed beads.

The bracelet by Derek Lam on the harpersbazaar.com site is particularly interesting. Its a simple bangle with a very large bead hanging on it. My creative juices are flowing and I have a couple of versions in the pipeline with different materials.

I am also pleased to see the return of the charm bracelet. We have silver-plated ones with a nice variety of charms typical to Mauritius. It bring back vivid memories of sitting on the couch as a little girl holding my older sister’s heavy silver charm bracelet. That was a treat for me. The charms were so beautifully crafted.

Well, there is lots to plan so I had better get started!

Until next time

Spring, please come quickly ………

After an unusually cold winter in Mauritius – cold, rainy and windy – I look forward to the first signs of Spring. Yes, its still at least 4 weeks away, but its a good time to look at the spring colors and think about designing some jewelry to go with those lovely pastel colors. I cannot wait to pack away my warm winter woollies, used during my recent visit to South Africa and used again after my return in early July and to shop for some light filmy dresses in the new colors.

From the top ten color trends for Spring revealed by Pantone to the other colors predicted for spring and summer, ideas are starting to develop for some new color combinations. With Aquamarine, Scuba Blue, Lucite Green, Classic Blue, Toasted Almond, Strawberry Ice, a lovely warm Tangerine,  Custard good enough to eat and the rich Marsala and Glacier Gray there is much fun to be had!

Others have mentioned Dusk Blue, Tree Top, Woodbine, Sandstone, Titanium and Lavender Herb.

On the ecolorworld.com (Albena Radeva) site the trends for summer are the rainforest’s vivid colors with a photo of the feathers of a brightly colored parrot clearly conveying the tropical feeling. To summarize, its a combination of luscious greens, bright corals and fuchsias, bright turquoise and earthy brown, which, as Albena suggests, binds the colors to give a more organic appeal. I really love the Colour Combinations Inspiration Board on this site and I am now a “Follower”. I look forward to future posts.

As a lampworker, I am inspired firstly by color. In the morning when I sit down at my torch, unless I am making beads for a specific order, my inspiration comes from the beautiful colors of Italian glass rods in my stack. I will look at the colors and one or two will attract my attention. That is my starting point. The design comes afterwards and develops as I work the colors in the flame. Sometimes I will have an idea from the colors what I am going to do, and once I start melting the glass, that idea changes completely. People often ask me where all my designs come from. When one follows bead making sites, one is obliged to pick up ideas. The way a dot has been placed, the way a flower petal has been formed, or just a combination of two colors can lead to a completely different design. As it is unethical to copy another bead makers work, one has to come up with one’s own designs and style. Although, as you can imagine its not impossible for two people to make the same bead at the same time. It happened to me recently. I made a new design and a few days later on one of the bead making sites, saw exactly the same thing posted by someone else. And it was not a design which I had ever seen before. I had not posted a photo of mine, so there could not have been any copying there. Its inevitable that once in a while this will happen. The bead making community is a very friendly and helpful one. Its rather like belonging to a worldwide family with the same passion. And its a real treat to see the incredible beads produced by the top artists!

So, I now have some searching to do for some new glass colors which will hopefully echo the colors for Spring and Summer.

Talk to you again soon. Enjoy the weekend.

Beads for Africa …

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Yes, these are actually going to Africa on our newly designed swizzle sticks with the big five. They were lots of fun to make and exciting to take out of the kiln this morning. We love to innovate. It’s important, in my opinion, to ensure that there is always something new to see in the showroom or on our on-line shop.

Time to take out the winter woollies …

Well, the temperature certainly has changed over the past week. Electricity consumption in the country has dropped drastically according to the survey by the Central Electricity Board. Amazing how much power all the air cons on the island require.

We have had an anti-cyclone with strong winds and lots of rain. In fact its been like August weather, certainly not June weather. Its the strongest winds we have ever had with an anti-cyclone. The earth is definitely suffering and the weather is upside down!

We are looking forward to the coming months. We have new designs in our silver plated range which are being developed for probable launch in September in time for Spring. The three new designs which we recently launched have sold well and its a special feeling when one sees one’s designs being appreciated. Jean Claude has done well in that respect. I have added some new designs of lamp worked beads and the result has been gratifying.

Its Thursday already and the weekend is around the corner. Hopefully we will have some sunshine so that we can warm up a little and enjoy a good swim in the lagoon. So, this is wishing you all a great, safe and happy weekend. Until next time …

This is one tiger I have mastered!

I have a soft spot for leopards and tigers. My sister loves cheetahs. Is it our South Africa blood I wonder? We are spoilt with many opportunities to view game at close range and Africa is a place that definitely is “in one’s blood”.

So, it was natural that I would be attracted to trying “tiger” beads. They are not complicated to make and I always find it so exciting when I open the kiln the next morning, to see how they have come out after the overnight annealing session. (Annealing removes any stress which has built up in the beads during the melting of the glass onto the mandrels and forming and decorating the bead.)

The beads are made with amber glass; a hand pulled twisty of black and white; silvered ivory stringer which is ivory glass around which one has wrapped pure silver, heated and pulled it out into a very thin rod in the flame and lastly a good quality clear glass to encase the bead.

The other day I made 6 of them and they all turned out quite different. The ivory stringer reacts with the other glass and ends up a bit like curdled cream. Its impossible to make two that are exactly the same.

In December we were doing a show at one of the hotels and a guest asked me if I could make a camel bracelet for her sister. We saw a bead I had made on one of the key rings and said “Its similar to that”. Well, I searched the internet and found, to my surprise, that there are quite a few different looking camel markings! Basically black white and caramel but the spots are different sizes and different patterns. I chose the most simple, which, luckily was similar to the keyring bead and she was thrilled. Her sister also love the bracelet. I really enjoy this type of challenge and find that it stimulates one’s creativity.

I have designed and made quite a few necklace, earing and bracelet sets to go with wedding outfits too. Its a great feeling when the client arrives to see what one has come up with and goes “Oh, I love it, its beautiful”. I find that they appreciate the time and effort which goes into flame working and the attention to detail and our high standard which we like to maintain.

Do you have a favorite animal? If you are a lamp worker reading this, have you made any beads representing it?

Well today was taken up with some orders for special beads, but tomorrow I shall be trying to get the better of Gaia and hopefully it will torment me no more. (See yesterday’s blog).

Talk to you soon.DSCF6641

Oh Gaia, how you torment me!

Have you ever tried to get a silver glass to do its thing and it simply refuses. Gaia is one of the Double Helix colours which I purchased at least one year ago, but have simply never had the time to sit down and play with in the flame. I get some reduction from it, but not what I would expect. Reduction colours are those which need a more gas rich flame to bring out the metallic lustre of rainbow colours. I read somewhere yesterday that the glass needs to be cooled and then brought back to red hot to do the trick. I shall have to try this tomorrow. However Triton still remains my favourite. So easy to reduce and so,reliable – like a loyal friend who never lets me down. Do you have any favourite reduction colours?

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