The 10-foot-tall wire fence that once confined Nelson Mandela for 18 years is getting a do-over. Capetown designer Charmaine Taylor is salvaging pieces of barbed wire from the infamous Robben Island jail, which held political prisoners captive before the fall of apartheid, and transforming them into gold- and silver-plated necklaces, earrings, and cufflinks. The jewelry, born from a former symbol of oppression, is a reminder that freedom is a “gift to be protected and cherished,” says Taylor, who donates a portion of all sales to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and organic-farming nonprofit Abalimi Bezekhaya (“We Are Farmers”).
Because Taylor cuts the rusted, brittle metal by hand, the creation of each piece is equal parts painstaking and painful. One particularly “temperamental” pendant took nine weeks of wrestling with pliers before it submitted to its current form. Despite the cuts, bruises, and splinters, the project, Taylor says, is “truly a labor of love.”
“When you’re covered with love, grace and forgiveness you transform a broken past into something beautiful,” she says. “Legacy Collection symbolizes that while scars still remain, they also remind us of how peace and reconciliation was achieved in South Africa and can occur across our world.”
[Via Fast Co.Design]