I have donated jewelry to charitable groups in the past, mostly to fund raisers for the school I worked at before retiring and to an annual feed the hungry event but these were pieces that were already made and all I had to do was select one to donate. There are two specific instances I can think of where I deliberately set out to create for charity.
The first was for the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Seeing the images of sick, injured and dead wildlife nearly broke my heart. I felt such anger and sadness that this event had even happened in the first place and then that it took so long to cap the oil contaminating the gulf with millions of gallons of crude oil. It also made me feel helpless; what could one person in California do really? My first impulse was to donate money to one of the wildlife conservation groups that were involved in rescuing and rehabilitating the mammals, birds and marine life affected.
But, that seemed too easy. I needed something that would make me feel more engaged and involved and that would help me deal with the emotions I was experiencing as I watched this environmental disaster unfold on the news day after day after day. After thinking about it, it occurred to me that perhaps I could create a piece of jewelry that would represent the gulf and the spill and that it could be used to raise funds for the benefit of the wildlife that was suffering.
I set to work painting a pendant featuring the Louisiana brown pelican which is the official state bird of Louisiana. Considering that Louisiana was one of the states most affected by the spill, their state bird seemed an appropriate subject for this project.
One one side of the pendant, I painted a beautiful, healthy brown pelican which represented the area's vibrant marine life before the oil spill. The background was bright blue and symbolized the blue waters of the gulf pre-spill days:
The other side of the pendant depicted the same pelican after the oil spill. His white neck and the rest of his body is now dingy brown and the expression in his eyes mirrors my feelings of deep sadness and anger. A single drop of oil clings to the end of his beak. The background is a dull brownish green which represents the fouled water of the Gulf of Mexico:
The pendant was suspended from a necklace of wood beads that were hand painted in the same blues, greens and browns that were found in the pendant.
This necklace eventually raised nearly $500 which was donated to the Louisiana Audubon Society specifically for the cleaning, medical treatment and care of marine life that was rescued and treated by their organization. Being able to do this was a very special feeling indeed.
My latest foray into creating jewelry for charity involves elephants! We traveled through southeast Asia for three months this past winter and one of the highlights of the trip was spending a day at the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The ENP is a sanctuary for injured, neglected and rescued elephants that was founded by Sangduen "Lek" Chailert a member of one of the Hill Tribes in northern Thailand. Lek grew up with elephants and as a small child formed a bond with them that lasted into adulthood. It was this bond and love of elephants that inspired her to raise the funds to purchase 200+ acres and rescue elephants who will live out the rest of their lives in this peaceful place lavished with love and affection while they recover from their physical, mental and emotional injuries.
After we returned home, the Elephant Nature Park and the work being done there was never far from my mind. This led me to make a decision to create a line of elephant themed jewelry and donate 15% of any sales from this line to the Elephant Nature Park. I've just started this project and so far have only three items listed, but it is my plan to paint several miniatures of elephants using the 1200+ photos I took at the park and turn them into jewelry as part of the elephant line. I also want to make elephant jewelry using special beads and charms that I find while searching for jewelry making components.
So far, I have these listed in my Etsy shop:
|Hand Painted Elephant on Vintage Jewelry Component|
|Earrings Featuring Thailand Hill Tribes Elephant Beads|
|Wire Wrapped Ring Using Elephant Button as Focal|
I very much hope this line is a success because I'd very much like to donate lots of money to the Elephant Nature Park!
As a small business owner who designs and sells jewelry, I would highly encourage other craftspeople to use their talents to create for their favorite charity(ies). It's very rewarding realize that one can make a small difference for others through their art or craft whether it's donating actual items such as hand made pet blankets to an animal shelter or crochet preemie hats to a hospital or creating a work of art in order to raise funds by donating the item to a fund raiser.
To see what other members of the Jewelry Artisans Community have to say on the subject of Creating Jewelry for Charity, please click on the links below: