In our new Seattle store, we decided to create a display to show our fondness of the fact that fair trade products are handmade by extremely talented artisans around the world. Many of the items we carry are like works of art, and some are even signed by the creator. This unique feature gives each product its own story and brings the chain of trade full circle as it hopefully inspires our customers to appreciate the person or persons who made the product they will use and love!
Below are a few examples of the signed creations you can find in our stores. The producer’s signature on each piece signifies his or her pride in the excellent craftsmanship delivered in each product and puts a name to the work.
First, there’s the pop top clutches made in Brazil. It’s fun watching people in our stores figure out that it’s really made from recycled soda can tabs. Some people don’t realize at first because the talented women who make them do such a good job crocheting them in the fish-scale pattern that gives Escama Studio its name. Escama in Portuguese means fish scales. Each clutch is also lined with matching silk and finished with a really sturdy zipper.
Next, there’s Faire Collection‘s new Hopscotch Necklace made from upcycled horn. These fabulous pieces are made in a traditional family workshop in Vietnam. A man began the workshop and passed down the skills to his children and grandchildren. Today the workshop has 18 artisans and works with Faire Collection to create jewelry that combines Vietnamese culture with modern colors and designs. Having their signature on each tag reflects the artisans’ pride in the handicraft traditions passed down from their ancestors.
Below, we have one of our Haitian oil drum pieces. These are probably some of the best examples of fair trade products as art in the most classical sense. Each piece is meant to be hung on the wall to be admired and appreciated for its craftsmanship and inspiring design. Some pieces are more simple, showing just a happy sun or bird, while others are intricate scenes showing nature’s intricate connectedness. Every piece is signed by the artist who has trained and apprenticed to learn the necessary skills and vision.
Next to the Haitian wall art is a ceramic mug handmade in Guatemala. The area of San Antonio, Guatemala has become so well known for its pottery that they mark each mug with the town’s name. The artisan also paints his initials on the mug or sometimes carves them into the bottom of the piece.
Next, is one of our Cards from Africa, a really cool project working with young people who have become orphaned by HIV or Aids. The cards themselves are delightful, but the really neat part is the fact that each card is signed by the person who made it – Solange made the card below! Having their name on the cards brings the artisans out of obscurity and makes them a clear and present part of the experience of buying something.
Finally, there’s Global Mamas who specialize in dyeing fabric using the batik method. The mamas, like Betty & Alice, who make each product sign their names on the tag to represent their pride in the product. They are proud of their handcrafted work, but also of their achievements as women and the work they do together to improve their community.
Each and every product we sell, even if it is not signed by the creator or artist, represents a sense of pride for place, for traditional craft forms, and a sense of dignity in work that is well done and meaningful. It is surely difficult to get so much information across on the tag of a product, so the ones that are signed by the creators are extra special! We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!