A Box, a Bracelet and the Marriage of Artisanal Skills
Human communities have certain important ties to the past via classical trades such as: weaving, pottery, wine making, diamond-cutting, architecture, and even making pasta!
The uniqueness of the human hand working with materials in their traditional craft creates an ancient dialogue between the artisan and the product. The legacy of such skills ties to us to history in significant ways.
Despite high-powered technological advances, “Hands on” as a physical experience and a creative process is still the tactile relationship of the craftsperson to the materials under their nimble fingers. From the linen weaver to the diamond setter, such interactions have a built-in “poetics” and a beauty of their own.
When one skill is wedded with another, magic happens! Such an engaging marriage has now arrived with partnering of Madovar’s custom-designed boxes and the development of the I REMEMBER BRACELET.
This unique and important piece of jewelry, was conceived by Bonnie Glogover in memory of her beloved late father, Holocaust survivor, Stanley (Szlamek) Jackson Glogover, (1925 –2013), but was created to honor all victims and survivors of genocide worldwide, past and present.
“I felt the need for a piece of jewelry made in shining metals,” says Bonnie, “that would memorialize my father’s wartime experiences. Prayer and faith helped him to survive two years in Auschwitz. But, since genocide can, and is happening again, my partners and I thought of a bracelet that would revere every victim of ethnic cleansing.”
After much discussion among her colleagues, the bracelet was born from the ideas of her partner and Jeweler, Philip J. Weisner, (also descended from Shoah survivors), aided by the skilled metalsmiths at RIVA Precision Manufacturing in Brooklyn, NY.
“In my original concept for how the bracelet should look,” says Philip, “I made several sketches, searching for a form that would evoke what it meant to be removed from one’s homeland, dispossessed, exiled, and even worse.
My design interpretation had to be simple but symbolic.”
The result was a bracelet whose pattern is derived from the train tracks of the railhead at Birkenau where thousands of prisoners, representing many faiths and nationalities, were selected to live or perish. The bracelet is now a resonant symbol of defiance and hope.
Both Philip and RIVA used certain old world methods in jewelry production combined with high tech applications. Philip’s sketches developed an overall direction until a design emerged. The bracelet’s model was finally created via a CAD program with the wax mold generated by a 3-D printer. This became the actual piece through the traditional processes of the lost-wax casting method. The bracelet was literally born in fire and hand polished by RIVA’s artisans.
The I REMEMBER BRACELET collection is now produced in silver, 18-carat yellow, rose and white gold, and in platinum. The phrase “I REMEMBER” is inscribed on the inside, with space allowed to engrave the name of a loved one or a special anniversary date.
“Such a rare piece of jewelry needed an equally splendid presentation box. One produced with the same dedication to craft as the bracelet, as elegant and memorable as the precious item it would contain. The natural choice was Madovar Packaging Inc.,” Bonnie explains.
One might say there’s a proud legacy linking Madovar’s commitment to refined skills and precision and the centuries of artisanal practices in Syrian culture.
“When I was a child in Syria,” says Madovar’s Bashar Madwar, “the creations of Syrian craftsmen were all around me in the marketplace. These included Damascene brocade: the art of weaving silk with gold and silver threads using a traditional wooden shuttle; inlaid furniture with mosaic wood veneers using walnut, eucalyptus and rosewood, each one a unique color to give a geometric effect. Such mosaics would often include inlays of Mother-of-Pearl and other seashells.”
“The swords of ancient Syrian warriors are legendary”, Bashar continues, “because of the Damascus steel that is used to make them to this day. An age-old technique braids strands of a molten alloy together, forged and hammered to create a tough blade. Often such swords are decorated with lines of Arabic poetry traced in gold overlay.”
“It’s no wonder the purpose and design of the I REMEMBER BRACELET found an empathetic ally in the Madovar Company,” Bonnie says.
Jackie Miller, Vice President of US Sales and Business Development, who runs Madovar’s NYC office, comments on what happened when the need for a box came together with the bracelet. “Bonnie found Madovar on the Internet and when she sent me an image of the bracelet, it literally took my breath away,” says Jackie. “She had the brilliant idea that the box should resemble a book because of the narrative nature of the bracelet’s concept. It’s truly a story-telling device, designed to evoke a conversation about its meaning between the wearer and the observer.”
With Madovar’s marriage of technology and hand-crafted packaging, the I REMEMBER BRACELET’S box was shaped into being. Bashar reflects, “It’s important to understand that when we design and machine cut the materials for any packaging that we produce, the technology used is complementary to the hand assembly that follows. Both processes are essential and harmonious. With their sensitive fingers and innate patience, we’ve found that our lady employees are well suited to the assembly stage.”
The result? A handsome black book-like structure rendered in materials that would present the bracelet on a slightly raised pillow with a slot to contain a customized screwdriver. The external paper of the box echoes the silvery smoke of a train in motion.
“Some of those delicate digits belong to Syrian refugees hired and trained by Madovar. Women who may have been responsible for the final execution of the I REMEMBER BRACELET’S box,” Bonnie continues.
As with any good story, the box contains the printed tale of the bracelet’s birth written by Holocaust author, (and Bonnie’s third partner), Anna Ray-Jones. She also included a semi-opaque parchment insert reciting the words “I Remember” in 40 languages.
“It was important that elements of the box carried the same narrative power as that of the bracelet,” comments Anna. “The aim was to relate the two aesthetically. Madovar’s stunning design was the perfect asset to support this goal.”
“We hope the box will present itself on a coffee table or a shelf,” Bonnie continues. “I wanted it to tell a story and start a conversation just like the bracelet. Madovar skillfully interpreted my vision of the box as a book.
Opening it takes the user on a journey of discovery until one arrives at the shining surprise that is the bracelet.“
A percentage of all purchases of the I REMEMBER BRACELET will be donated to the USC Shoah Foundation. To explore the USC Shoah Foundation’s mission, testimony collection and their Stronger Than Hate initiative, visit: https://sfi.usc.edu/.
I Remember and Company will also send matching funds from the bracelet’s sales to a different human rights charity every month.
“It seems sublimely coincidental that a bracelet dedicated to such causes, conceived of by the descendants of Holocaust survivors should be enclosed in a magnificent box designed and constructed by artisans who are emigres and refugees from war-torn Syria,” Bonnie explains.
The I REMEMBER BRACELET has its foundation in such talents, (both spiritually and industrially). The box and the bracelet together complete each other, it enfolds a message that is one of honor for the past, hope for the future, and the call for open dialogue between diverse people and generations.
By Anna Ray-Jones