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Beads, strings and kids

Three small girls at a table string beads with deep concentration. They are taking part in a three-day jewelry workshop held at the Heliopolis branch of Diwan bookstore that started last Thursday.

The workshop is supervised by Egyptian artist Magda Abou el-Fetouh, who intervenes only when one of the budding artists asks for help.

“On the first day, I thought I would give them a lecture on how to create jewelry,” explains Magda. “As soon as they understood how to choose the right size of string for a bracelet, ring or necklace, they stopped paying attention and immediately started designing exactly what they wanted.”

Delighted by the creative mood of her “students,” Magda is also surprised by how childred reflects their personalities in the pieces they design.

Indicating an eccentric-looking bracelet made entirely of long and pointy beads, Magda asks the bracelet’s creator about her choice of material. The child responds spontaneously: “I like it wild.”

Other kids are more drawn to symmetry, or opt for a careful choice of colors, reproducing patterns. “I don’t like to interfere or guide their choice of colors because to me, it interrupts a process of creation that is vital,” explains Magda, who is carefully re-stringing the beads from a necklace that has fallen apart.

The girls alternate between periods of intense creation that monopolize all their attention, and joyful moments that consist of inadvertently dropping beads on the floor and looking for them, crawling around and shrieking with fun.

Kenzi, ten, says she will have ten days of holidays soon and hopes to come to the workshop every day. Hearing this statement, Magda raises an eyebrow. She would like to hold the workshops more regularly, but only on a monthly basis. “I can imagine organizing jewelry and also painting workshops once a month, but I also need to keep time for myself and my own creations.”

“I am also considering having an advanced jewelry class for these students,” she says, watching the young girls delicately picking beads from their plates, “because they really have talent.”  

Leila matches colors for the jewelry set she is finishing. With an impish smile she explains that her next creation will be purple “because this is my mum’s favorite color.” She grabs my finger to measure the right size of string.

Particularly astonishing is Soheil, a four-and-a-half-year-old boy who has designed a necklace and bracelet for his girlfriend. “He came to accomplish this mission, picked his girlfriend’s favorite colors, pink and turquoise, and refused to thread a single bead for anyone else!” Magda says.

Christina, a seven-year-old brunette is calmly finishing a bracelet. “I knew how to do necklaces already, but I never made a ring before and it’s really nice,” she says, blushing slightly.

When the moms came to pick up their children at the end of the second day, Magda says they inquired about adult classes and started “helping” their kids out with the beads. “They wanted to play too,” she says.

The three-day workshop costs LE185 and Magda hopes to offer it again soon, not only for the benefit of the children, but also for herself: “Children always bring a new mood and new dynamism, two qualities essential for an artist.”

Magda Abou el-Fetouh’s can be reached at:

Mobile: 010 517 5655

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