*Meet the Artisans*
Bartel Arts Group
The Bartel Arts Trust , or the BAT Shop, is an urban-based community art center that is a venue and facility for skills training, promotion and exposure of disadvantaged and emergent artists in South Africa. The focus of the center is local arts, culture, crafts and entertainment that reflects the Zulu, Indian and Western heritage of KwaZulu-Natal. The difference at BAT is the grassroots, the experimental, the cross-arts trends and the innovation that is promoted at the center.
Maya Traditions works with more than 100 Maya women in five established groups in rural villages. Predominantly working with women who do backstrap weaving, an ancient traditional art that women can do at home while caring for their families, Maya Traditions brings much needed income to poor regions of Guatemala. In addition, they work with a group of women crochet artisans, footloom weavers, and small family businesses.
Pueblos Del Sur
Pueblos del Sur-Supporting microenterprises and associations of artisans from the marginalized sectors of Chile, the organization Pueblos del Sur, Villages of the South, has a mission to improve the lives of those who work in these organizations by providing an infrastructure for marketing and exporting the crafts they make. In addition, the organization helps artisans improve their business practices as well as continually develop new products while staying true to their traditions. The access to international markets that Pueblos del Sur provides enables more than 250 artisans to make a sustainable living from selling craft items to more than 10 countries around the world.
Jedando Modern Handicrafts - Working with more than 100 individual carvers in Machakos, Kenya, Jedando Modern Handicrafts markets products primarily made of wood and bone worldwide. Carving is a tradition in Kenya with the children learning the craft from their parents. Carved by hand using only rudimentary hand tools, olive wood bowls, salad serving sets, and animal-shaped napkin rings take shape from pieces of olive wood, mahogany, and mpingo, or “African Ebony.” An integral part of the organization’s function is to educate the craftspeople on the need for reforestation to enable the products to be available for years to come and offer a sustainable income for generations.
While wood carving provides the major income for many in the Machakos area, other craftspeople earn a living by further enhancing the products including painting the napkin rings and carving discarded animal bone for the handles of salad serving sets. Often the bone is “batiked” by placing wax on the white bone and dipping the bone a dark brown/black dye, resulting in patterns African mud cloth designs.
Asha - Based in Mumbai, India, Asha Handicrafts, established in 1975, is a non-profit organization, working to promote Fair Trade and Fair Trade practices. Asha in Sanskrit means "Hope", and Asha has brought hope into what was largely a "hopeless" situation by providing a marketing outlet for the craft of talented artisans. From the beginning, the mission of Asha has been the development of the artisan through various development projects designed to meet the needs and standards of overseas markets. It is a society formed with the objective of preserving the crafts of India while marketing them abroad and providing training in craft development. Today, Asha assists directly, and indirectly, over 103 producer groups and 5,000 artisans in India throughout various cities.
(Comercializadora de Productos Artesanales Exportables) is a non-profit organization that exports Chilean handicrafts around the world. As members of IFAT, Comparte's mission is to improve the standard of living for owners and employees of Chilean handicraft workshops, by promoting and exporting various handmade products of the highest quality, while supporting these same artisans through technical and product development assistance programs.
Purchasing COMPARTE products helps improve the living conditions of their artisans and craftsmen by paying fair prices and stimulating justice in the workplace of the developing world. The artisans often work from their homes. In some cases adult children work alongside their parents while younger children attend school. Comparte products include enameled copper earrings; fused glass earrings pendants and bracelets; sterling silver earrings; wood articulated pens, fish, snakes and dinosaurs; fused glass plates and ceramic ocarinas.
Zakali Handicrafts - Working with Jednedo Modern Handicrafts the young men and women of Zakali Jewelry produce handamde Jewelry using the skills of wire work and electroplating. The project first started as a garbage collection project in the slums of Niarobi. Recycling remains very close to the heart of the project. Many of the pieces used are reclaimed or recycled.
BIO Imaginarte - The founders of BIO Imaginarte take the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” to heart. The focus of BIO when it began in 1992 was educating Mexico in the need to protect and restore the environment. Working with women who live in several villages as an aspect of its education efforts, BIO helped designed bags and other functional products that are made from manufactured materials, reusing aluminum pop tops, rubber from tires and plastic billboards, as well as recycling paper and candy wrappers. The women are paid a fair price for each piece that they make, which promotes the beauty of handmade products while addressing one of the main causes of environmental deterioration in Mexico—poverty.
This item was hand-crafted in Peru by the artisan group, El Mercurio. Created through the Joining Hands NGO network, and Bridging hope, this Fair Trade artisan group is creating fantastic kid's items and living a sustainable life on the way.
Based out of Nepal, this artisan works for a successful artisan group comprised of over 100 women. The orders generate fair pay for all of the women who product beautiful items including our hemp handbags.
Photo courtesy of Earth Divas.
Rami's parents didn't have enough money to pay for her studies, so she needed to start work shortly after elementary school. Their village, Celuk, in Bali, Indonesia is known for its silversmith artisans, but Rami wasn't finding steady work outside of low-paying factories. The long hours and poor wages made it difficult to help support her husband's meager income and raise their three children.
Rami learned of Mitra Bali, a local fair trade organization. She showed them her work and they recognized Rami's skill and motivation and awarded her a large order. In addition to a fair wage, Mitra Bali also provides additional training, pre-payment for raw materials, and links to fair trade buyers.
With new fair wages, Rami can now work for herself and be confident in knowing that there is enough money for her children's studies - they won't need to leave school early like she did.
This innovative group, which creates beautiful ceramic and clay pieces, is composed entirely of Salvadorans with disabilities. At Shicali the men act as the workers (creating beautiful pottery and ceramics), while the women are the managers of the operation. The beautiful ceramic pieces are truly a testament to Shicali’s unique spirit and dedication to overcoming the obstacles that face disabled Salvadorans. Shicali is sponsored in part by a grant from the government of Spain which is trying to help change attitudes about the disabled in El Salvador.
Fair Trade from Bali. The workshop works under the 5 R's – Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Refuse & Repair. The supporters of this partnership also support and are involved in sustainable education, re-forestation, organic farming, community empowerment projects and contribute to the GreenSchool Bali scholarship fund.
Carlo Brutus and Eugene Jacques, two of the many artisans in Croix des Bouquets, live in the area of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti known for artisans who make oil drum art. The constant hammering from the sheds in the area led us to beautiful metalwork, with each stop offering new designs.
Eugene’s shed was tucked behind several others and yielded unique three-dimensional masks with cogs and bicycle chains for earrings. Each piece is a work of art and signed with “Eugene”. Carlo has what seemed like hundreds of different design of the ubiquitous round steel drum artwork hanging from every inch of wall space in his tiny warehouse.
The Diaspora of Haitians has spread the designs and skills of Oil Drum art throughout the Caribbean but the art is truly Haitian. Old oil drums are no longer readily available and are imported into Haiti by container and sold to the artisans. Even though cheaper, more readily available steel sheets could be used, artisans rely on the used drums for the patina in their art.
Wasim’s workmanship is excellent and he earns a lot of respect in the community for his art. He mentions that it is hard work, but he enjoys the satisfaction of creating something so beautiful and the opportunity to express himself creatively. He hopes that this art stays alive in times to come.
Cooperativa Semilla de Dios
Located in the mountainous frontera town of La Palma, Semilla de Dios (literally “Seed of God”) is a 28-year-old organization which employs 27 associates. The cooperative was begun with the assistance of the Salvadoran artist Don Fernando Llort. Semilla de Dios owns their own forest-land where they harvest the wood for their handicrafts and then replant trees—thereby ensuring the future of their community and their livelihood.
West Bengal Artisans:
The artisans who make our Jute expressions bags are located in the West Bengal region of India. They belong to a nonprofit organization that works to better the standing of women, children, marginalized castes, the mentally and physically handicapped and the disadvantaged. Specializing in jute products, this group works with over 500 artisans living under the poverty line, most of who are women. These artisans get the jute from jute mills, which exist specifically to serve artisans who make jute products.
With the help of Fair Trade, this group can now sponsor welfare projects in both the urban and rural areas of this region. These projects include a short stay home for women and girls, a nursing home for the elderly, a vocational training center and production unit for physically handicapped, English and computer education, and micro-financing.