Handcrafted jewelry made from bullet casings
Intrigued by a feature article about “extraordinary women” I was reading the magazine “Fast Company” on a flight last week. That’s how I discovered the gorgeous jewelry line by Austin based design studio Raven + Lily. The company is committed to empower women through design and works with HIV-positive women from local villages in Ethiopia to create beautiful jewelry made from discarded bullets.
The story behind the making of the jewelry collection from Ethiopia is incredibly inspiring. It’s made from reclaimed artillery shells that are upcycled into playful yet stylish jewelry like the Eden Fusion Silver Bullet Bracelet. The eight-strand silver bracelet is handmade from melted bullet casings and recycled brass, silver, or copper. I love design that turns waste into something useful or in this case beautiful like bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. It all starts with farmers in the mountain of Northern Ethiopia collecting empty bullet casings from former wars. These are then sold to skilled bead makers that turn them into beads and charms. The artisans melt the bullet shells down into thin sheets and cut them into strips that are shaped into unique, handmade beads. Finally the beads in brass, copper, or silver are treated and polished to enhance their shine.
You can check out the process on Raven + Lily’s blog. The photographs are beautiful and the amount of work that goes into every single bead is impressive. Each bead has its own individual characteristic and story since it’s handmade. The upcycled beads are turned into jewelry in partnership with a local job training program that supports HIV positive women at Entoto Mountain. Many of them have been excluded from their villages because of the stigma associated with AIDS. Being part of the jewelry making center provides them with a sustainable income but also a sense of community, empowerment and hope. It’s amazing to see how design has the power to transform people’s lives.