After a crazy couple of months including 3 trade shows, 3 public speaking engagements, 2 wonderful interns and a new stock control system, I am finally getting around to writing the final instalment of the blog about our trip to work with the fantastic Flowering Desert project in India at the end of the last year.
The general plan was to build on the success of the April Showers Collection to do this we needed to introduce new techniques, new materials and do extensive training in cutting and finishing metal.
Previously at Flowering Desert we had no means of cutting thick metal so all of our initial designs were made using wire and fairly thin brass sheet. So it was exciting on the first day of this trip as we presented the ladies with a shiny new tool – the metal guillotine brought over from England! This was going to open up a whole new world of possible designs as we could now work with thicker metal sheet.
It was decided that we should focus attention on training nine women thoroughly and that then they in turn could train others. I set to work with metal cutting and drilling inductions with each of this group to ensure that they understood how to properly use the tools and were aware of the health and safety implications. Once competent in a certain technique they were required to train someone else, reinforcing what they had learnt and ensure that the knowledge was shared.
Whilst the new thicker material brought more possibilities it also brought new challenges. Once they brass was cut into manageable sized squares using the metal guillotine, Ruth oversaw the training of cutting out designs using a piercing saw, a specialist jewellery saw with very fine blades that allow for highly detailed shapes to be cut out. Much of her time was spent training on how to properly insert the blade, hold the saw and then clean up the shape to ensure a perfect silhouette afterwards. Grace focussed on quality control and ensuring that the finish was a perfect as possible.
We also spent a long time observing the way in which the ladies were working to clean up the designs once they were cut and helped them develop systems and processes to make this more efficient and effective. We encouraged the women to work in teams and in a systematic way to ensure that processes weren’t repeated, that every stage was intentional and that once metal had been cleaned it was stored and then packed carefully to ensure that it maintained it’s shine and to avoid it being scratched.
We were so impressed with how the ladies worked together and supported each other and delighted with the progress that they made.