Friday, April 17, 2009

Is There Joy in Your Jewelry?

Are you wearing jewelry or are you wearing joy-elry? Did you get your ring from an expensive Tiffany’s shop to proclaim your financial status or did you bargain with a street vendor for the lowest price for that cowry shell-festooned bracelet? Did you visit Studio of Ptah in Chinatown to get gold, silver or brass pieces that give respect and honor to the highest and advanced culture that flourished in the Nile River Valley? Master craftsman and central Brooklyn resident Baaba Heru Ankh Ra Semahj Sa Ptah creates joy-elry.

The joy-elry isn’t for fashion, though it’s lovely; it is functional. “The joy-elry (or Sa) gives a point of focus on principles that are powerful, uplifting and meditative,” explains Baaba Heru Ankh. He coined “joy-elry” after years of studying the ancient Egyptian symbols found on every piece he creates. These symbols encapsulate such principles as love, life, endurance, and truth. Knowing this brings joy to him and he founds the wearers also feel joy.

Within his shop at 55-59 Chrystie Street in Chinatown, customers select from over 3,000 models or describe their own faceting. Baaba Heru Ankh claims he has a greater collection of ankhs (the sign for “life”) than “found in all of Egypt today, inclusive of the world’s museum collections.”

This is a family business where Baaba Heru Ankh focuses on the craft and his son El-Aton is the proprietor. Prior to El-Aton’s management, his eldest son Everay assumed the duties. Even his granddaughter Niema Atkins worked in the shop. Now that’s training the child in the right way.
Baaba Heru Ankh’s father similarly trained his children in the right way. Garveyite and Christian minister, the father encouraged his children to learn about Kemet (or ancient Egypt). “My father reasoned the children of Ham were following their Shem uncles (Arabs and Jews),” remarks Baaba Heru Ankh. “In keeping with the Bible’s instruction to ‘honor thy mother and father,’ father said we ought to learn from our parents from Ham.”

He trained in gem and metal work started by watching an elder man who worked in the Diamond District and resided in East New York. The elder wanted his trainee to observe him at work in his home basement. This observation went on for one year until the elder looked at his hands and remarked, “You have artist’s hands.” The elder gave him tools. Baaba Heru Ankh has worked the craft for 38 years. His work became widely known due to his ankh designs for the International African Arts Festival’s Ankh Award Ceremonies. Ten years ago, he launched Studio of Ptah.

Being in business with a cultural aspect is a challenge. It takes tenacity, fine work, and marketing to thrive. El-Aton is responsible for marketing. He uses traditional marketing collateral like business cards and postcards and maintains the Web site, Studio of Ptah has Facebook, MySpace and Black Planet pages as well. The craftsman and proprietor exhibit the typical differences associated with artist-business manager relationships. Does one follow trends or stay true to a path? As long as Baaba Heru Ankh can make a mold and set the gems, he will stay in his niche that ‘brings the beauty of our culture to the masses.”


At December 3, 2009 at 3:17 AM , Blogger cristian said...

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