Bonaire may be small in size, but it is home to both people and products that have gained the island world-wide fame. One particular area for which it is known is its thriving art scene, which is reason enough to visit this Caribbean destination. These days, more and more local entrepreneurs have confidence in themselves and the goods they produce. ‘Made on Bonaire’ is a title that most island residents don’t take lightly. It’s indeed a source of pride. Dutch Caribbean In Your Pocket interviewed two young enthusiastic islanders that work hard every day to bring their artistic glass products to a whole new level.
DCIYP: Bonaire is home to many people from all over the world. You guys are from South Africa (Charlene) and Italy (Gabriele). How did you end up on Bonaire?
Charlene: ‘My husband and I came here to the Dutch Caribbean in early 2011. We met on the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship, where we were both working at the time. Since the first time we arrived on Bonaire we immediately fell in love with the island. We have since had a baby girl. We named her Zahara, which means bright and shining, as she is the new jewel in our life. Besides a shop on Bonaire, we now also have stores on St. Maarten and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, which are also cruise ship destinations. I guess we can’t run away from them. More relatives came into the business over the years and joined the Elements family and now we are one big family creating some fantastic new designs.’
DCIYP: Your main store is in the heart of Kralendijk. Elements is filled to the rafters with different styles of glass art. Can you tell us more about how the products are made and what you use to create them?
Charlene: ‘Dichroic glass consists of multiple layers of metal which are vaporised in a vacuum chamber and electro beamed onto the glass. The glass is then cut into various shapes, layered together and then fused at almost 1500 degrees Fahrenheit for around 9 - 12 hours. We only use stainless steel which is hypoallergenic and does not tarnish. We are very proud of our flagship store on Bonaire, but we also sell our designs where it all started. Bonaire has a very nice tradition that when cruise ships are in town, an open-air market opens up just opposite the landing pier. That’s where I started my little dichroic glass business selling jewellery, a centuries-old way of making art that I inherited from my mum. What I like most about it is that every piece is different. The Ocean, Africa and Sunset collections all emphasise completely different colours and match different people. Depending on lighting and where you set it against your skin, you’ll be amazed at the brilliance and shine that the dichroic glass gives off.’
Elements can also be found on St. Maarten (Front Street 103 & Old Street 113, Phillipsburg).