The first half of the workshop took place in a roomy space in South Block, an artistic office space in Glasgow. Seizing , one of the designers running the workshop, explained, “Today’s workshop is for everyone to make something personal to them around the themes of the festival while learning some jewellery making techniques. It [the workshop] is for everyone, including people who have never tried it before.”
Participants brought ideas and inspirations with them. A pair of sisters followed the theme of protection through the historic tradition of trinket giving. They were inspired by the exhibition ‘charmed life: the solace of objects’ based on a collector, Felicity Powell, who accumulated 1400 amulets and charms from the past. These charms were often given to people before being sent to war or long journeys away from home by family members or friends as a symbol of luck to keep them safe. This is something that can relate to the experience of seeking asylum, in finding yourself in a situation where it may be inevitable that you may never return home. Even the smallest possession can become symbolic and a big part of someone’s past and what they have left behind.
“It’s been good to talk about ideas,” said Seizing. “It’s very interesting to see the different things that symbolise meaning to different people on these themes.”
The first step of the design process involved everyone sketching their ideas. Then people had to paint their copper pin with a black varnish similar to the consistency of nail polish until it was completely covered. Afterwards, people sketched their design into the varnish. The designs were then oxidised in acid.
The second half of the workshop was across the road at O-Pin’s workshop at Briggait where the group learned how to finish off etching and soldering their pin designs. The day ended with everyone leaving with their own personal copper pin they had made from sketch to finished piece, all celebrating their shared belief in human rights and dignity.
The O-Pin workshop was part of Refugee Festival Scotland 2015, which is produced by Scottish Refugee Council – celebrating 30 years of supporting refugees in Scotland