Pat Accorinti Jewelry Design

The Tauregs

Posted in Artists, Jewelry by paccorinti on August 9, 2013

I’m running a few weeks behind here.  A couple of weeks ago, my friend Sherry and I got to attend a demonstration and sale of Taureg jewelry by Elhadji Koumama.  Elhadji comes from the country of Niger in Africa and is part of a family of silversmiths that trace their jewelry making history back twenty-five generations.  He is now working with Terri Hendrix from Watsonville to bring his family’s work to the US for sale. As part of this effort, Elhadji tours the US with Terri, demonstrating the method he uses to cast his  work. The San Francisco Bay Metal Arts Guild sponsored a visit and sale in San Francisco at Adam Clark’s sculpture studio.

Elhadji uses a “lost wax” method to create his jewelry. They used charcoal briquets to simulate the charcoal fire they use for burning out the wax and to melt the fine silver they use for casting.

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Elhadji is breaking up dried clay which he will reconstitute to make the mold. His beeswax model of a desert fox figure is sitting on the anvil and the charcoal fire is just started in the back.

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This is a mold ready to go into the fire. You can see the beeswax peeking out of the sprue hole.

The mold and the crucible containing the fine silver have been buried under the  charcoal. Elhadji uses a bellows made of goatskin to bring the fire's temperature up.

The mold and the crucible containing the fine silver have been buried under the charcoal. Elhadji uses a bellows made of goatskin to bring the fire’s temperature up.

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Both mold and crucible with melting silver are near the temperature they need to be for a successful casting.

Once the silver was completely melted in the crucible, Elhadji used tongs to pour the silver into the hot mold. The mold was allowed to cool for a few seconds before he plunged it into cool water and broke the clay away from the casting.  He then finishes the piece by forging and filing until the desired shape is acquired.

Elhadji is the patriarch of a large family. Many of the men in his family are also jewelers.  By coming to the US and selling his jewelry here, he is able to support his  entire family and is very proud that he has been able to give money to his village to drill a well that will bring water much closer to the village. I loved seeing him work with his simple tools to create wonderful things. Here’s a link to a short video that shows Elhadji in Niger. http://youtu.be/LcehaHLwL1Y. He also has a Facebook page that you can check to see his schedule when he comes back next year.

This is Elhadji with me and Sherry. Sherry is wearing some beautiful earrings she bought from Elhadji last year!

This is Elhadji with me and Sherry. Sherry is wearing some beautiful earrings she bought from Elhadji last year!

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