My why for carving is simple: I could not sit still too long. So I always carried a little knife to keep my fingers and mind occupied carving something. My inspiration, the stunning and colorful world underwater could inspire all of us. The art and jewelry pieces that I carve are all made from locally collected shells among others, the hard inner core of the coconut shell, old parts of the pinkish/white queen conch shell, the mother of pearl rich whelk shell, coral stones found in abundance on our beaches and I also carve the bone of cow and goat if I can find them.
My carving career started in 1953 when I was 14 years old, mostly on readily available wood and coral pieces with a simple small knife. At trade school I learned to work with diver’s tools, files, hacksaws, etc. I made stainless steel rings and some turtle shell bracelets and necklaces.
Later, while diving in 1967, I found an abundance of black coral. I did a lot of carving with this lovely sacred material handcrafting elegant dolphins, pretty angelfishes, earrings, bracelets and necklaces. After some more experience and using better tools I tried my hand with the mother of pearl layer in the whelk shell, better known in Curaçao as the ‘kiwa’ shell. The exterior of this shell has an attractive black and white pattern, where the interior is an iridescent layer of mother of pearl that lends itself beautifully for the carving of the intricate shapes of miniature marine figurines. Art crafted from coral and shells carry the sanction of the ancients.
The jewelry and products I make are sold at the local handcraft market ‘Marshe di Artesania’ held every second Saturday of the month at Landhuis Habaai.
73 years old ~ artisan/diver/ marine biologist/underwater photographer