I call Audrey earlier that morning to confirm that she still has time to meet. Ringing in the fire station in Tarpum Bay, the woman answering the phone tells me Audrey is “on the grounds,” and can she take a message? “That would be great, thanks!” I say.”Please tell her I’ll be at the Arts and Cultural Center around 10:15.”
“Yes, ma’am, I’ll tell her. You have a wonderful day!” That lilting Bahamian accent always gives me the feeling of being welcome, even accepted, in this land of laid-back politeness.
It’s not a typical, achingly gorgeous day on Eleuthera. It’s been raining steadily for a few days, unusual and somewhat needed. I drive north, or “down island,” as they say, and reach the Center just about on time.
Audrey and two friends greet me warmly as I enter the open room displaying the painstakingly, lovingly made quilts of many island women around its border. The wood floors creak and the stone walls seem to speak- the history of this building is another story itself.
The women are talking and quilting today. Other times they gather in similar or larger groups to work on beach glass jewelry, recycled Capri Sun handbags, Bahamian print purses, cut glass products, or even the latest craze- decorated fabric postcards.
They do it to relax and reduce stress.
They do it as a creative outlet.
They do it for the social fun.
They do it to make an income.
These ladies of the Eleuthera Arts and Cultural scene have been crafting in many ways, for many years. Some continue to learn new crafts, or teach others.
We first spoke with Audrey several months ago when she and a few other women were invited to conduct a workshop on making jewelry using parts of the invasive lionfish. We’ve spoken before on this blog about the lionfish, which has become prolific in the Caribbean, wreaking havoc on the reef ecosystems. Using lionfish parts in jewelry-making is one way Bahamians have found they can further the quest to eradicate this predator from their waters. The lionfish pieces many artisans create are not only beautiful, but also serve to utilize more parts of the animal rather than toss the remnants into the sea.
Audrey and friends have agreed to become a part of the From Around the Globe artisan family, and we couldn’t be more proud. In the glow of the Center, we talk about the products we’ll feature, and we go over some of the logistical issues to resolve, such as pricing, shipping, and which artisans like to showcase their work. The ladies are full of ideas, and so talented, I’m not sure where to start!
Recent studies show more and more Americans really want to know where the things that they buy are coming from. Our purchases should tell a story, make a connection to the creator of the piece. We strive to be more intentional in our choices, because we can, and because in an ever-increasing climate of mass production, we want to make a difference.
In the coming weeks, Audrey will send me photos and backgrounds on the women, images of their products, and information we’ll need to get them started on the website. We hope you’ll stay tuned, and consider their items when you’re looking to purchase gifts for others, or something beautiful and useful for yourself or your home.