Makers Gonna Make

Plano member, Annette Berlyn, splits her time between her home in South Africa and her daughter’s home here is Texas.  If one thing is true about Annette, it is that she will create the most interesting things out of anything she can get her hands on!

We hope you enjoy her story of how a simple museum visit with a friend turned her into an entrepreneur artist for the museum gift shop.

Anglo-Boer War Museum

Back in February 2020 while enjoying the company of a friend visiting us from Holland, I spent a few hours wandering the Anglo-Boer War Museum located in my hometown in South Africa. 

The part of the exhibit that interested me the most was two clay pots covered with small shards of porcelain making it look like mosaic. I learned that during any excavation, pieces of broken porcelain are always found. These pieces had been kept by the museum over the years until they asked a few artists to do something with the shards. These two clay pots were the outcome.

On our way out of the museum, we stopped at the museum shop so my Dutch friend could purchase some memorabilia.  I noticed that there were only a few mugs and key rings to choose from which really got me thinking… 

As the days passed by, I just could not get those porcelain shards out of my mind.  I thought there must be another, even more interesting way to display these very old, colorful pieces that are part of Anglo-Boer history.

Fast forward to a trip we took after our friend from Holland left.  We left for the Western Cape for what was intended to be a short two-and-a-half-week vacation to visit family at their beach cottage.  But while we were there, you guessed it, the COVID-19 lockdown was announced in South Africa and we were stuck in place.  All travel was banned!  Face masks were compulsory during lockdown, so my first creative endeavor was making each of us a few masks (from shirts!) so we could get out to buy food.

In the meantime, the museum’s clay pots were still very much on my mind. Fortunately, I had been to some bead wholesalers and purchased enough stock to keep me busy. And the wonderful panoramic view of the sea filled me with lots of inspiration.  I started beading some stones I picked up on the beach to make a few pedants when suddenly the penny dropped! Why not bead some shards of porcelain?

My creative juices were flowing, and my mind was in motion so I sent an email to the CEO of the museum suggesting I make a few samples that they could try selling in the museum when it reopens. I added some photos of the stones that I had beaded and I was so excited when I received their reply. 

They loved the idea!

As exciting as that reply was, it did present a slight dilemma! They asked me to send photos of a few samples and I was not at my own home to find any porcelain.  And there were only a few people in the little beach town.  Luckily my niece came to my rescue with an old porcelain teacup that was once part of her great grandmother’s dowry.  It was cracked in parts and just what I needed! I wrapped it in newspaper, tapped it with a small log and voila!  I had my shards!

Necessity once again was the mother of invention.  I had no tools with me that could smooth the broken edges, so I used an old cement brick to do the job. Needless to say, this exercise also took the skin off my hands in places… 

Oh, the creative sacrifices we make!

And I learned that beading a curved piece of porcelain is not the easiest.  I had to reset what I thought was “right” many times and restart the process. As is so often the case in our creative endeavors, I was learning and adapting as I went. But I was enjoying each piece. I saw it as a creative challenge!

The first pendant from a shard of the old teacup that I beaded to my satisfaction was given to my niece who proudly often wears and displays it! Ultimately, I am thrilled to report that the museum was delighted with what I did. And I now have a contract to supply them with porcelain jewelry to sell in their shop.

Oh, and as a footnote about our little beach town visit … Our stay at the cottage eventually became two and a half months before we could return home!!

What an interesting story!  Thank you so much, Annette, for sharing it with us.  We love the connection you maintain when you are across the globe. And we look forward to being with you in person again when you are back in the states!

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3 thoughts on “Makers Gonna Make”

  1. What a wonderful story! I’ve seen some of Annette’s work so can attest to her talent and creativity. I cannot wait either until she’s back in Texas.

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