As you may recall, I've shared some sustainable design and development stories from Mozambique while working with Allan Schwarz. The whole team is super excited to officially be launching the a.d. schwarz line for the first time in New York with some limited quantities of handwrought sustainably-harvested wood jewelry and Sofala plates. You can read more about the project below. The items will be available at Linhardt Design on 156 1st Avenue.
The Sofala Plate is one of the most popular and iconic pieces of the a.d. schwarz collection. The large size, intricate detailing, and one-of-a-kind artisan craftsmanship makes this piece the epitome of fine African art. Plates have been showcased in Museums across South Africa. Each piece is hand cut and has a unique look, dually from the actual artisan's technique and the quality of the wood from start. One plate (depending on skill level of worker) takes 7-8 months to complete, from harvest to drying to drilling to cutting/fitting to polishing to hand-polishing. Approximately 2-4 plates are finished every week. Artisans are paid on a per piece basis. Meals are provided during days of work and funding for children's schooling is also built in. Sustainably-harvested, Carimbo Verde stamp, Fair trade, African-made.
Mentoring. Allan shows one of his artisans a tagua nut that he picked up from one of the local palm trees. He gets the idea of maybe using them in the plates.
Harvesting. Wood from fallen or pre-harvested trees are cut lengthwise to maximize number of plates from trees. Wood is of all different quality and often has inconsistencies or holes (as shown above). These will later be drilled out and repaired with different wood designs (as seen below).
Drying. After plates are harvested and rounded, they are set to dry for a minimum of 6 months, to minimize shrinking and warping when working with the wood.
Drilling. Oswaldo drills as his colleague holds the plate in place. The drilling occurs around areas of the plate that need wood insertion. This may be because there is a crack in the plate or a hole.
Cutting and Fitting. After drilling, shapes are cut out of the plate and solid pieces of wood - usually a different variety and color altogether, are meticulously cut to fit exactly into the incision. This often takes a few tries, and involves slicing, sanding, and hammering the wood into place.
Sand and Polish. After the wood designs are in place and quality control is done, artisans use a machine to sand down the plates and give them a smooth finish.
Hand-Polish. When plates are finished, each individual will then hand-polish their plate with a natural beeswax and African essential oil finish, accentuating the natural wood grain of each plate. All woods are the natural color - from deep mahogany reds to inky blacks.