When we heard that Azza Fahmy Design Studio were holding a crash course in wire jewellery, Farah Hamouda was there with bells on, going home with her very own, unique handmade ring.
Being an extreme jewellery enthusiast and a lover of all accessories from rings on every finger to hectic layering of necklaces, pendants and bracelets, it is impossible for me to ever give up on adding to my forever growing collection. For me to leave my home minus my beloved embellishments would be like going out naked. So when we heard about the intensive Wire Workshop at the Azza Fahmy Design Studio last weekend designed to help amateurs like me master the basics, taught by the talented experts imparting their wisdom in Egypt's first specialised Jewellery Institute, I would have been a fool to miss out. Nothing says Egyptian jewellery quite like the grand design house that is Azza Fahmy.
The Design Studio, in association with Italy's Contemporary Design School, Alchimia, presents several workshops throughout the year where you discover how their lavish products are created using materials such as wire, stones and wax, including an exclusive ring workshop for a more specialised approach and even a non-jewellery related calligraphy class, making for a very crafty series of events. Held at Darb 1718, we ventured to Old Cairo one extremely sunny Saturday afternoon and were greeted by the beautiful architecture of the studio and the friendly teachers, who handed us the aprons to wear for us to get cracking; safety first, of course!
After a brief introduction and a tour of the studio, we were enlightened regarding the materials available for use and their ability to be incorporated into jewellery such as copper, iron and gold-coloured wires using the machinery and tools available to mould and bend the wires into the shapes our hearts desired. My eyes were instantly drawn to an array of perfectly, untouched stones and crystals that lay upon the table suggested for use to create a jewellery item, sourced from the Fayoum desert. The course leaders demonstrated how to use tools and wires to start but I was eager to give into the urge of placing my hands upon a white, slightly transparent crystal that I intended to fashion into a ring. Accepting that my lack of experience would mean a lot of experimenting and difficulty until I would reach the desired outcome, I was certainly feeling ambitious.
Using the thinnest of silver-colored copper wire, I wrapped the tiny crystal repeatedly, forming constant lines to stablise it. Next step: make a ring. With a thicker silver-coloured wire, I produced a spring like shape. Tools such as pliers and a plastic-end hammer enabled me to attach them to my pre-wrapped-in-wire-crystal, which I must admit required me to approach one of the teachers for help due to it being a ridiculously fiddly job. I found that throughout the day I was sucked into the world of jewellery making and was very much motivated to learn how it’s done. The help of the team was very helpful as they were available to consistently advise, observe and support.
The band of the ring, finally fixed to the crystal, was further tightened using the thin, silver wiring, as I wrapped it around the inner lengths to guarantee; a huge relief due to my freakishly small hands. Polished, done and dusted, I must admit I felt ever so proud of my creation, the first piece of jewellery I ever created using such advanced materials; an item that I would normally purchase if seen in a jewellery store.
Others participating in the workshop were also making stunning products - from necklaces to bangles - and the day was a breath of fresh air in a arts scene that seems to be focusing on the same mediums while giving insight into the industry itself. After a very productive day, I was handed the certificate of attendance for the workshop at the Design Studio and my new Fayoum desert crystal ring is certainly very special addition to my exceptionally large collection of jewellery.
Find out more about Azza Fahmy Design Studio and their courses on their Facebook page here.