“Conquering my Stroke” : Kuki, the One-Handed Jeweler
In 2013, Kuki Hirsh suffered from a stroke caused by a brain aneurysm that sent him into the fight of his life and left his right side paralyzed. After a few days in the hospital, Kuki began rehabilitation. Although he made much progress, the right side of his body remained very weak. Instead of feeling upset for himself, Kuki turned to an old hobby of his from his days as a teenager in the IDF: leather making. Kuki used to design and craft leather bracelets, and soon he found himself thinking about this creative project. He began dreaming up an idea- to begin creating jewelry again. But how would he make necklaces with only one hand?
Kuki didn’t let the challenge deter him. He began teaching himself how to design, bead, and create beautiful jewelry. He found tools he could use with only one hand. Soon, people around him began to ask when they could buy it. Today, Kuki operates a homemade jewelry business, One Hand Jewelry. We at OneStep are incredibly inspired by Kuki’s commitment to taking on a challenge and finding something that he is passionate about. We spoke with Kuki to learn more about what it takes to be someone who doesn’t let his stroke take over his life:
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Kuki: Let’s start the story at the beginning: My name is Moshe, and my nickname is Cookie (Kuki). When I was a youngster, I was an outstanding athlete, holding three Israeli records in Krav Maga.. I also played basketball for a number of years. I actually do view sport as rescuing me from the stroke I got down the line.
When did the stroke occur? What were the first few days like afterwards?
Kuki: I got the stroke at 57 and it was a brain aneurysm. I remember, the day before I returned from work with very high blood pressure. I went to the hospital for a few hours and then I was discharged home. The next day I did not go to work and on that day, I had my stroke.
From that day until about two weeks later, I remember nothing except for realizing where I was, in Lewinstein Rehabilitation hospital… and immediately understanding where I was, I began being “at war” with the disease and its consequences without spending time thinking “why did this happen to me” and all the nonsense around me.
How did you begin working with leather and making jewelry?
Kuki: In the army I loved making leather wallets and then, on principal, I stopped. I dreamed for many years about working with leather again but I didn’t have a second to spare – until I got the stroke. When the idea first came to mind, it took me a year and a half to think about it, and then slowly I began to build a work system for myself with only one hand. Even today, I continue to improve and find more special tools to assist in my craft.
What was therapy like for you?
Kuki: Physical therapy and healing wasn’t as much of an issue, except that I had no continuity of speech – and I did not find a suitable cure. Rehabilitation helped to an extent, and helped me to save my walk, but my right hand remained paralyzed, so it did not help with jewelry making. That I did on my own, I simply began designing and making jewelry, even with one hand. When creating jewelry, I do feel a sense of conquering my stroke.
Tell us more about One Hand Jewelry:
Kuki: The difference between me and other amazing artists and jewelry makers is that I am disabled. I defeated the disability through jewelry making with only my left hand! After my stroke, I decided life was too important and I needed to return to my old love, jewelry design. I consulted with experts to find the right tools to use to “replace” my right hand. Now, I make jewelry professionally.
Tell us about the process of making a piece of jewelry?
Kuki: Well, it takes about 6 times the normal time to create any piece, but when I finish a piece, I feel like I am flying!
What would you say to others who are facing physical challenges?
Kuki: I suggest to everyone – whether you are healthy or not so healthy, find a hobby that you have – and everyone has something he knows how to do and can be good at – and dedicate your heart to it. You will see how it affects you for the better.
Here are some images of Kuki’s work, and the link to his Faebook business page. We are truly inspired by Kuki’s story and hope you are too! Consider buying a piece of his jewelry and supporting his art!