We have continued to foster a relationship with a trade school in Dakar, the capitol city of Senegal and the only school in West Africa with a jewelry program. Matthieu and I will offer short workshops there to the students and to special guests we will invite in from the outlying region. In addition to distributing tools at this venue, we will facilitate communication between urban students and working jewelers from small villages, a connection that can benefit both.

    The tools and money donations do not come with strings attached but they do come with stories. Several people have tied recurring monthly donations to sales of their own work, earmarking a few dollars from each sale to the Initiative. Others have passed along tools that were given to them early in their own career, paying forward the generosity and encouragement. One person has written into her will that her entire studio should be donated to the Intiative. 

    When we started the Toolbox Initiative we had no idea how it would grow but we both knew from our years in the field that jewelers are a rare breed. And now we are humbled by the opportunity to share this wonderful spirit with colleagues halfway around the world.

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Many of the boxes that arrive include a note, and while all are touching, this one stands out. The package included high quality pliers in great condition and the note says, "These pliers were given to me 40 years ago when I first started out. It is time to pass them along."

Wow.

 
A filigree leaf by Ibrahima.

A filigree leaf by Ibrahima.


Ibrahima sharing his lunch with a neighborhood child.

Ibrahima sharing his lunch with a neighborhood child.

"Thank you to the Toolbox Initiative for gathering tools for this wonderful group of artists. I hope my humble contribution can help in some small way. I am grateful that I am able to work at what I love to do without worrying that I won’t have the tools that I need. I think it’s good to remember that it is not so for everyone."

 
Two jewelers in West Africa looking over a metals textbook.

Two jewelers in West Africa looking over a metals textbook.

A jeweler in Conakrey, Guinea says, "Thank you for the new pliers!"

A jeweler in Conakrey, Guinea says, "Thank you for the new pliers!"

A copy of Complete Metalsmith ready to be helpful.

A copy of Complete Metalsmith ready to be helpful.


The Toolbox Initiative received a letter by post from a retired gentleman who has no specific connection to the craft world and who lives on a fixed income. The letter contained several original poems and a $20 bill.


Ibrahim reading Complete Metalsmith.jpg

Ibrahim Condé looking over a few new jewelry books.