A YOUNG West Cork woman, who is believed to be the first blacksmith in Ireland with Down syndrome, is taking her work global with plans to exhibit at the Special Olympics in Berlin.
Jessie Waschkowitz from Castletownbere is carrying on a special family tradition as the fourth-generation blacksmith in her family.
She will once again make them proud when she showcases her work at the largest inclusive sporting competition in the world.
The event will include more than 7,000 people from across the globe competing in 26 different sports from June 17 to June 25.
This year will see a total of 73 athletes from Team Ireland compete with the support of volunteers.
Jessie heats pieces of wrought iron to make sculptures and jewellery to sell and also boasts a fashion line she developed with her father, Reinhard Waschkowitz.
The brand, Born Transcendent, stocks jewellery, sculptures and clothes, among other coveted items.
However, she emphasised that their business has a deeper resonance than conventional organisations.
Reinhard, who has been living on the Beara Peninsula for almost 30 years, was the last remaining trainee blacksmith in his native Germany where he trained in the art several decades ago.
He now works with his daughter to find new ways of reinventing blacksmithing for the 21st century.
The father daughter team say they won’t stop until they have spread their positive message all over the world.
Jessie will be travelling to Berlin with her father- and Born Transcendent colleague Suki Blochinger in their beloved campervan.
Here she will display and sell a collection of her sculptures and jewellery.
The trio devoted weeks of preparation to Jessie’s exhibition stand which includes a screen to play footage of her extensive forging process.
“It means that, even if Jessie is speaking with another customer, people will be able to watch her on the screen and see the process behind what she does.”
Jessie said she is looking forward to meeting people with Down syndrome and special needs from all over the world.
“We are all different and we are all perfect,” Reinhard said. “That’s the message that comes with forging. Every sculpture is unique.” Jessie elaborated:
“Every sculpture represents a person I meet but my favourite one is the one that looks like my dad,” she laughed.
Reinhard opened up about what makes his daughter so special.
“As far as we know Jessie is the only blacksmith in the world who has Down syndrome. She is very talented.
“We would love to encourage other people with special needs to also follow their dreams."
Reinhard believes that the government do not do enough to develop the skills of people with special needs.
He feels they “only want to babysit them instead of promoting them as fantastic people that we need in our society".
"Because of this, we have decided to do our own thing and enjoy the way we are going.”
Suki said the trip will be a huge opportunity for artist Jessie.
“The Special Olympics will be very exciting for us because Jessie will have the chance to meet so many other people with Down syndrome,” she said.
“We are already deep into preparation and are really looking forward to the experience.
“Jessie loves sports so it will be great to attend the ceremonies and competitions too.”
Jessie has also experienced phenomenal success with the Born Transcendent fashion line.
The collection includes everything from baby-grows to sweatshirts.
Reinhard previously said the baby-grow was a very special design because it’s heart-breaking for new parents who never hear the word ‘congratulations’ if their baby has Down syndrome.
Jessie has many loves and also enjoys modelling for her fashion brand.
“They are both creative in different ways. Whether it’s ‘modelling’ in the forge or modelling clothes she is equally happy,” Reinhard said.
This will be just one of many adventures for Jessie, Reinhard and Suki.
“Adventures just offer themselves up to us,” Suki said.
“When we found out that this year’s Special Olympics is taking place in Berlin we thought it would be really great for Jessie since she is learning to speak German.”
Jessie is excited about spending quality time with her dad.
“There won’t be any arguments,” Jessie laughed. “I’ll just enjoy spending time with my dad.”
To find out more about Jessie’s brand visit borntranscendent.com.