From left, tutors George Leslie Forde, Adama Diouf, Alliou Sylla and Project Coordinator Nyzinga Onifa at the opening of the 10-day Masterclass Workshops in leather and crochet product design.

NCF stages Masterclasses for over 50 artisans

NCF stages Masterclasses for over 50 artisans

From left, tutors George Leslie Forde, Adama Diouf, Alliou Sylla and Project Coordinator Nyzinga Onifa at the opening of the 10-day Masterclass Workshops in leather and crochet product design.

More than 50 local artisans have been honing their skills in leathercraft and crochet at a 10-day master class workshop, thanks to the National Cultural Foundation.

Tutor George Leslie Forde guides participant Gloria Chung in stitching of leather, as other artisans look on.
Tutor George Leslie Forde guides participant Gloria Chung in stitching of leather, as other artisans look on.

The NCF’s Business Development Department commissioned the Senegalese master tutors, to conduct the sessions which are being spearheaded by Programme Facilitator Nyzinga Onifa.

Participants will have the opportunity to fine-tune their craft as they gain additional knowledge and skills from Aliou Sylla – Master Tanner and Leather Maker; Adama Diouf – Master Crochet Designer and Lisle George Forde – Master Leather Maker and Stitcher.

While these workshops are occurring during African Awareness Month, NCF’s Chief Executive Officer Carol Roberts said the sessions are part of the NCF’s larger thrust to build and expand capacity among creatives in the fashion sector.

“This is but one of the programmes of the NCF which are designed to assist and expand the local fashion industry. Designers, stylists, manufacturers and other creatives in fashion are producing great work and content. The NCF is pleased to stage this workshop and we eagerly look forward to seeing the progress and gains that come as a result of this 10–day training,” the CEO said.

On Monday, at The Bagnall’s Point Gallery at Pelican Craft Centre, the interactive workshops began in crochet and leather craft. NCF Chief Cultural Officer Andrea Wells welcomed the artisans and explained the importance of the sessions.

“We all know the history; we all know the pain and suffering that was caused by the separation of generations of knowledge. This is the beginning of a reconnection; a return. Government has formally announced an initiative for reaching out and creating greater ties with the African continent, the place we all recognise and the main motherland. This is generations of knowledge that these master artists represent,” she said.

Programme Facilitator Nyzinga Onifa urged the creatives to make the best use of the golden opportunity.

“Draw as much blood, as much energy as much creativity whatever you can draw because you have some great master artistes in our presence. The aim of this course is to get Barbadian leather-makers to international standards so that you can earn a living and create further employment in the sector,” the facilitator said. 

The leather craft workshop features both Sylla and Forde. Sylla is a Senegalese master tanner, artisan of leather goods, and antique dealer who has over 30 years of experience and combines traditional and inherited generational knowledge and methods with new technologies in his production. He works with leather using the traditional method and has inherited the secrets and knowledge passed on from generation to generation from his family.

Coordinator Nyzinga Onifa displays an example of crochet in Masterclass. Looking on is participant Dr. Nancy Jacobs.
Coordinator Nyzinga Onifa displays an example of crochet in Masterclass. Looking on is participant Dr. Nancy Jacobs.

While Forde, a Barbadian, currently based in Los Angeles, has worked as a leather artisan for over 45 years. He takes pride in innovation, excellence in quality, and craftsmanship while paying attention to detail. He has a passion for style with functional taste as his work is recognisable not by the label but by the element of luxury, character, and integrity in each piece he makes.

From left, tutors George Leslie Forde, Adama Diouf, Alliou Sylla and Project Coordinator Nyzinga Onifa at the opening of the 10-day Masterclass Workshops in leather and crochet product design.
From left, tutors George Leslie Forde, Adama Diouf, Alliou Sylla and Project Coordinator Nyzinga Onifa at the opening of the 10-day Masterclass Workshops in leather and crochet product design.

Taking the reins on the crotchet workshop is Diouf, an impeccable Senegalese crochet designer who reinvents crochet into a form of modern creativity by designing patterns and garments based on traditional fibre art techniques. With 37 years’ experience, she is committed to producing exceptional quality designs.

During the course of the workshops, the trainees will practice and complete a prototype of their own for conversion into the finished leather product.

The programme, which started Monday, January 31, ends Friday, February 10.

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