Egypt's sugar plant, the biggest in the world, to produce 900,000 tons    Egypt's unemployment rate drops to 7.2%    Egypt's exports of food industries increase 5% in Q1    Egypt-first to have new climate targets ahead of UN summit    Egypt uncovers official logo for COP27    Ukrainian people say goodbye to Leonid Kravchuk – first elected president    Noura Al-Mutair – first Gulf female boxer in World Championships    Egypt unveils 50 pound coin minted to mark Avenue of Sphinxes grand reopening    Canada's Robert Oliphant starts Egypt, Morocco visit today    Liverpool fans: "You'll Never Walk Alone" to Cristiano Ronaldo    Hot, rainy weather hits Egypt this week    COVID-19 in Egypt: infections fall to 124 cases last week    Realme announces Global Photography Contest 2022    Egypt to play key role in integrating water, climate issues globally – World Bank official    AstraZeneca to boost Egypt investment 50% in three years    Egypt's telecoms regulator announces working hours for holy month of Ramadan    Maha karara joins AAIB as Head of Corporate Communications, Sustainability    Egypt works on charting cooperation strategies with international institutions for 5 years: Al-Mashat    Over 2.4 million newborns examined for hearing impairment: Health Ministry    Netflix releases trailer of Arab adaption of 'Perfect Strangers' film    Balqees to headline concert celebrating launch of streaming giant LIVENow in MENA    Sawsan Badr to be honoured at Aswan Women Film Festival    MP Abdel Hady Al-Qasby calls government to facilitate and support NGOs    Al-Sisi follows up on 'Great Transfiguration Project' in St. Catherine    Cairo, London stress need to strengthen cooperation to face climate change    Foreigners account for 22.6% of Egypt's T-bills issuances in 1H 2021: CBE    Egypt's ambassador to Italy passes away    Egypt confirms readiness to help African countries face terrorism and extremism    An estimated 235 million people needed humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021, an increase of 40% compared to 2020: IOM Egypt    Egypt, DRC discuss water cooperation during WYF    Egypt, DR Congo discuss boosting bilateral cooperation during WYF    Cameroonian police probe assault on three Algerian journalists covering AFCON    Pharaohs start AFCON 2021 campaign with fierce clash against Nigeria    Foreign Ministry opens capacity building course for French-speaking African diplomats    Egypt's trade with Nile basin countries climbs 26% y-o-y in 9 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Heritage of hard work and tradition
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 15 - 04 - 2010

Mai Samih is impressed by artist Zeinab Khalifa's lyrical jewellery designs
Zeinab Khalifa's jewellery blends gold and silver in designs that ally the contemporary with the ancient, mixing ideas of Greek, Roman and Eastern inspiration to meet 21st-century taste.
Her silver bracelets and gold necklaces have a character that is different from more familiar designs. Khalifa, the artist behind the collection, is a graduate of the Philosophy Department at the Faculty of Arts at Ain Shams University in Cairo, and, beginning her career in the 1980s when she worked as an apprentice to traditional master silversmiths in Khan Al-Khalili in the heart of Islamic Cairo, she started from scratch like any other professional.
By the early 1990s, Khalifa had opened her own workshop and begun exhibiting her work. Her first pieces were exhibited in 1997, and she is now the owner of a workshop and gallery where her designs are produced by highly-trained craftsmen. Her knowledge of the region's jewellery-making traditions gives her work its distinct, organic quality. Though Khalifa lives and works in Egypt, her designs have been acquired by various private and institutional collections in America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Her jewellery draws on traditional jewellery-making techniques that she learned in Khan Al-Khalili, these being adapted to modern conditions and allied with more modern techniques.
"I use traditional techniques, but I also try to modernise them in order to bring them up to date," Khalifa says. Although she is not against using moulds in jewellery making, she never uses them in her own work since in her view jewellery making involves the craftsman, or craftswoman, interacting with the raw material as the work is created.
"Anyone who works in the arts has a certain inward character if he is self-aware, and this will predominate in his work," she explains.
Khalifa's work is inspired by Islamic designs, and this is apparent in a necklace made in the shape of crescents and stars that resemble those on the Turkish flag or the old Egyptian flag, with its crescent and three stars. Islamic sculpture impresses her, and the designs used in the mouldings on Islamic buildings provide ideas for her jewellery designs.
Some of her ideas come from her own experience, while others are drawn from everyday observation -- perhaps the design of a window, a door, a piece of cloth or textile, or even a piece of metal. "I can't say that I am inspired by any one thing," she says.
In Khalifa's view, jewellery does not have to use expensive materials in order to be beautiful, and she argues that wood, iron, stainless steel, enamel, silver, brass or ivory can be used in creating original ornaments. "The most important thing is the piece's innovation, creativity and originality," she explains.
Khalifa works with local materials, though she often has difficulty estimating the value of the materials used in her jewellery. It depends on the size of the piece, as well as the expertise and skill of the person who made it. Moreover, "there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration, such as the weight and the stones used in a piece of jewellery. This will determine the value of the piece, depending on the type of stone used. Another factor is the amount of work involved, or the type and nature of the inscriptions on the piece."
The amount of time a piece takes to create will depend on the "mood of the artist", the size of the piece and the number of people working on it, she says. Khalifa prefers to work with a team of craftsmen, feeling that this method gives the best possible results. "We work as a team, and we complete each piece as a team. Each team member has his or her specialty," she adds.
Some craftsmen work individually, while others prefer to work in a team. Ismail El-Gamal, 47, who joined Khalifa's company eight years ago, prefers to work in a team. "A necklace would take around 15 days for a group of craftsmen to finish, but it would take about a month for any one craftsman to accomplish the same job," he says.
His colleague Emadeddin, 53, agrees, adding that team members combine their experience with Khalifa's artistic talents. "The work starts with Khalifa's sketches. We then divide the work between us and hope that the result is what she expected," he says. According to Khalifa, Egyptian craftsmen have different abilities: one might excel in one area, while another might excel in another.
In 2007, Khalifa exhibited her work in Syria and discovered that Syrian taste is similar to Egyptian. "Art is everywhere, but only some people buy it. An artist struggles to attract clients -- people who will appreciate and buy an artist's work," she comments.
In order to extend her client base, in 1996 Khalifa organised what she calls a "recycled-silver" exhibition in which only jewellery using recycled silver was displayed.
"This gave me a lot of freedom, because I did not have to worry about the cost of the material, which I did not pay a lot for in the first place. Even if I had failed to sell all the jewellery, it would not have been a great loss."
Today, however, Khalifa laments that she does not have the time for such exhibitions, even though she thinks they may represent the future. "Recycling represents the future at a time when the earth is running out of raw materials," she says.

Clic here to read the story from its source.