Sophie Lewis-Smith in the workshop
Just before she came back, she posted a selection of her students’ work for sale on Facebook – chunky jasper rings and pendants, delicate copper Frangipani-shaped earrings and more, all handmade in their tiny workspace in remote Auki, Solomon Islands.
Many of the pieces were quickly snapped up, with the funds raised going directly to the makers and reinvested into tools. Sophie feels confident that the two students she worked most closely with, Charlie and Jackson, will be able to build good livelihoods, and pass their skills on – “they just have to keep producing!”
Sophie says the market in Solomon Islands for quality local jewellery has great potential, particularly among tourists and expats. Sophie emphasised the creativity and design aspect of jewellery making, alongside the technical. Copper and silver were introduced, leading to the creation of the frangipani and pawpaw flower earrings, the most popular products in the Facebook sale. Old air conditioning units are a useful local source of copper.
Anyone wanting to purchase their own pair will have to make the pilgrimage to Solomon Islands. While the Facebook sale is a success, Charlie, Jackson and Philip (Head of Department at MIT) are currently concentrating on the local market, and have found places to display their work in the capital, notably the Lime Lounge Café, with scope to exhibit at the Art Haus Gallery (The National Gallery of the Solomon Islands). for the tourist and expat market. “There’s nothing like it in the Solomons, so the opportunity is huge.”