One of things I find so rewarding about working with Made By Survivors is the opportunity to witness the many wonderful attributes of the human spirit.  Not only do I see unbelievable changes in the exploited women who create our handmade jewelry, but I get to see incredible acts of generosity from people who support our fair trade jewelry programs.

Examples of cut metal from the blanking dies.

Recently, I just returned from Jayne Redman’s beautiful new studio in Portland, Maine. A few months back, she put forward an amazing opportunity for me to come to Maine and learn a jewelry technique that will help drastically improve our production of artisan jewelry in India.  Jayne put forth this amazing offer immediately upon hearing about our programs, I’m talking somewhere around minute two; a truly selfless act as the offer was a donation not only of her time and precious knowledge but also materials.

This low-tech technique, making blanking dies from tool steel, is one of Jayne’s teaching specialties and the cornerstone of her current line.  For Made By Survivors, the technique will allow us to hand cut a pattern and punch the design rather than hand saw each, individual design which is laborious. Making blanking dies requires only basic hand tools and no electricity, a major boon for working effectively in India with the constant power outages that can last for hours at a time. This is a huge improvement when making multiples of same jewelry component. Another upside is the jewelry remains completely handmade because the pattern is hand sawed and hand punched using a vise.

For survivors of human trafficking and slavery in our programs, the implications of this new technique are vast. The survivors will be able to move through orders much more rapidly and punching the designs is simple enough for a newbie to do while really feeling they are making contribution. The time-saving aspect will not only allow our metalsmiths to practice new techniques, but most importantly, it will have a direct, positive affect on their salaries as our metalsmiths can produce our handcrafted jewelry more quickly.

I can’t wait to teach the women in our studios how to make dies so we can implement them immediately. Through the generosity, support and love of others, we can continue to improve the lives and empower the survivors we work with, even if it is just a little bit at a time.

Jayne giving me a demonstration

Jayne’s site: for her current line and workshop schedule