Harnessing the Power of Affirmative Ornaments: Soft Jewelry for Hard Times

September 3 - September 4, 2022

Harnessing the Power of Affirmative Ornaments: Soft Jewelry for Hard Times


Details Fee Breakdown:
Tuition: $355
Material Fee: $35

Throughout time and across the globe, human beings have created, worn, and exchanged jewelry imbued with their longings, their aspirations, their sense of belonging, their desire for protection, and healing. In communities where writing is revered, mark making and the use of meaningful texts are at the core (literally and figuratively) of amulets, brooches, and medals. In this workshop, we will take inspiration from traditions with origins in Africa and the Middle East, combining personally significant texts and symbols with fabric, thread, digital images, beads, shells, twigs other natural materials and recycled objects to create ornaments that evoke feelings of courage, pride, hope, resilience and recovery. On day one we will explore traditions and contexts for amulet and medal making. We will explore different techniques for creating the texts and marks for our ornaments—embroidery stitches, applique, digital transfers, and other methods. On day two we will create amulets, medals and brooches using a rich variety of stitched and sewn techniques including applique, collage, embroidery, drawing, hand and machine stitching.

Level: Beginner and Beyond
Workshop Levels

Definitions of Skill Levels for Workshops

  • Beginner and Beyond: Introductory level course that presents basic knowledge of tools, materials and techniques and is geared towards first timers or those who want to improve and expand their technique. It takes time to build skills.
  • Advanced Beginner and Beyond: Instruction that assumes some familiarity with tools, materials and equipment. Includes reviews and builds on basic skill sets, allows for those with more experience to work at their own pace. Further development of fundamentals, participants have had at least one class or equivalent with professional instruction.
  • Intermediate: Course content that assumes a working knowledge of basic studio tools, materials and equipment necessary to accomplish the projects and techniques to be explored. Participants feel comfortable in the studio setting.
  • Intermediate to Advanced: Course content that requires a proficient working knowledge of studio tools, materials and equipment necessary to accomplish the projects and techniques to be explored in class.
  • Advanced: Assumes proficiency and advanced working knowledge of materials and studio tools and equipment so that the focus is on artistic narrative and/or technical development.
Ages: Adult



Diana Baird N’Diaye

Dr. Diana Baird N’Diaye is a multidisciplinary artist, folklife researcher, curator and transcontinental arts advocate who combines decades of experience both as a researcher and curator of African and African diaspora expressive culture. She considers her teaching as a vital aspect of her participatory art practice. N’Diaye’s art training began with sewing and needlework instruction from her Caribbean great aunts; In high school she became a student of African American couturiere Zelda Wynn Valdes, and worked as a mender in her mother’s dry cleaning store. Using her own transnational personal and family history as a starting point, she uses digital photography and stitching to create tableaus that interrogate the transatlantic identities/relationships and reconnections created in the aftermath of colonialism, and the transatlantic slave trade, as sources of both trauma and joy, disfunction and healing. Diana N’Diaye’s quilts are represented in the Michigan State University Museum collection; her wearable artworks are in several private collections. She is the founder of the Smithsonian’s African American Craft Initiative, the Will to Adorn, a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, an award-winning writer, a board member of the Center for Craft, and a Gateway Studio artist. 

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