Aziza’s jewellery is One-of-a-kind
Crop Over is the one time of year the work of Barbadian artists is in the spotlight, says award winning craft person Aziza Onifa of Azipho’s Creations. Not only does she get to meet people but to see the arts and what Bajans do.
On a sunny afternoon with the occasional tourist dropping in at her shop in Pelican Craft Village, she shared the story of how she started making jewellery 17 years ago, moving from Bolton Lane in The City, to Lower Broad Street, to Cheapside and later to her present location where she has been for five years.
“Before I came in to Pelican, it was already kind of slow. I think it got slower over time because it needs more marketing,” she said.
“I think the simple ways of marketing the people are not using, things like the media having a website with the tenants having their own space and Facebook which works for me as people from overseas who would have connected through a friend of mine go on and liaise with me and I would do a bit of exporting too.”
Selling in the open gave her the recognition she needed to get her name and creations in the public and she has not looked back. Her wire jewellery is wearable art with most intricately woven into one of a kind pieces.
Her husband, Ras Sipho, introduced her to wire bending jewellery, she said, and along with the knowledge and techniques gained from school, she was on her way.
“That’s where my product line was unique and different…. What inspired me is that I like fashion. I always did. I would think about what piece would go on a nice dress so when I’m creating, I see what it could be worn with,” Onifa said.
“Another reason I got into jewellery making was because I could not wear fashionable jewellery. This is one of the reasons why I make the jewellery that I do. It’s not only fashionable its hypoallergenic. I couldn’t wear them because it would irritate my ears and neck.”
She added: “I studied and started experimenting with the different metals on myself to see if they irritated or not, and I found that the stainless steel – which was the first metal I worked with – never gave me a problem.
“I had clients that kept coming back because of the long lasting metal and I would say those are the elements that kept them coming back; not the stuff you wear for two days and get rid of it.”
She said: “That’s one of the reasons that inspired me to be in my business, where I could introduce people to stuff they can wear if they could not wear the harsh metals distributed as fashionable jewellery.”
Copper is “definitely” easier to work with, she noted, because it is more pliable and bends easily into various shapes and designs. The necklaces, bracelets and earrings she has displayed created by crocheting and weaving, bear testimony to this.
“I like working with chips, so this one here actually forms a loop.” The piece she pointed out, she said would take ten to 15 minutes to create.
Stainless steel is harder, she said, but because of the length of time she has been working with it, she knows how “to turn her styles in one try, rather than have to go over and over”.
Asked what her signature pieces were, the designer laughed and explained: “I have a client that has a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces. I think it is the finished product that at the end of the day that makes it so unique.
“I can go down the road and if ten people pass me wearing my pieces, I know they’re mine. But they’re not going to look the same.
“Every piece is like a designer piece. It’s not going to have the touch as the last one. Shopping with me is like buying a one-of-a-kind piece. That’s the market I’m into.
“I’m not into the mass produced market, I’m into the market that sells one-of-a-kind pieces and you won’t see a double. If you do, it would be very seldom,” she said.
She does, however, do repeats when asked.
Early last year, Onifa added handbags using burlap, leather, leatherette and African prints. She also added leather sandals to her line, after jewellers found it difficult to get spaces at craft markets because of their numbers. (GBM)