SUBMITTED BY ANNIE WATERMAN
My company, Mushmina, has a history of respecting traditional design traditions — which we’ve deepened recently through our collaboration with master metalsmith Ahmed El Guerche, who produces our beautiful Sahara Jewelry collection.
Ahmed lives in the south of Morocco and is a descendant of the Amazigh (Berber) people, who are indigenous to Morocco. He lives in the old medina of Tiznit, with his wife, two children, and brother. He grew up in the mountains outside of Morocco’s famous Ouarzazette and learned metalsmithing from an apprenticeship when he was a young boy. He eventually moved to his present hometown, the silver capital of Morocco, in search of employment opportunities.
Soon after, he was introduced to our company by a Peace Corps volunteer who recommended that we work with him because of his excellent crafting abilities. We primarily rely on photos and drawings as a way to communicate, which works because we are all visual people. Ahmed often works throughout the night, simply to complete our orders. He was nominated by Morocco’s Ministry of the Artisanat and recognized as the top artisan of 2012. We feel fortunate to have met him and have been working with him since 2009.
Ahmed used to work from home and now has moved into a really nice atelier where he has employees. While he has no formal education, he uses the Internet and visual images to interpret our orders online and via email. Every year, we take the ten-hour trip and visit him in southern Morocco. We look forward to this time because he always invites us into his home, where we share a meal and drink mint tea. He is not motivated by money, but reminds us that he only works with people who are nissan (serious) and with whom he wants to do business.
Ahmed’s latest collaboration with Mushmina will be featured as part of ourwinter collection, comprised of etched bracelets, cuffs, and beautiful pendants. All work is handcrafted using silver, brass, copper, and/ or filigree. Each is a modern interpretation of Ahmed’s traditional craft. Even the backside of each pieces is often decorated as Ahmed can’t stand to see anything looking too plain or unfinished.
Make sure to take a peek at Mushmina’s Sahara collection which will be featured at Artisan Resource @ NY NOW™ February 1-4, 2014.
For more information, please visit- http://www.mushmina.com.