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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Recycled Soda Can ... A Gift Idea?

(Photo - Creative Consulting)  


What good is a recycled soda can?  
Well, to a group of physically disabled and blind artisans in Bombolulu, Kenya's second largest city, recycled soda cans mean economic empowerment, housing, medical aid, adult education -- the ability to survive in the mainstream labor market.   A clever, physically disabled artisan, struggling to survive his impoverished living conditions, created this whimsical Girlfriends' Pin from a recycled soda can.

This fashionable Girlfriends' Pin ($14) gives you a glimpse at the impressive jewelry designed by 113 disabled artisans for fair trade markets, like Ten Thousand Villages. 

Can you imagine posing for a picture like this with your two best friends?  I know I can.  Our girlfriends look like they're about to dance at any moment.  

Yes, happiness is dancing!  When the weight of the world gets you down pray first, then dance it out!  You'll be surprised how fast your worries will vanish.  Your girlfriends and fashionistas will love these pins as gifts.  You can also give them as favors or special gifts when you host your Little Black Dress/Little Pink Dress Sisters' Tea in 2011.

Happiness is Dancing!

And here they are again, dancing their hearts out in these beautiful Dancing Women Earrings created by the Bombolulu, Kenya women.


Dancing Women Earrings $10 - Created from the Bombolulu Workshop.  You'll stand out wearing this extraordinary jewelry, especially if you wear this stylish East African art with your favorite little black dress.






Brass Circles Necklace - $44 - Bombolulu Workshop.
Hammered brass circles overlap, swinging from a brass chain. Adjustable closure.


Dancing Circles Earrings - $18  Bombolulu Workshop
Hammered brass disks, each swinging and turning inside a brass circle, dances as you move. What a great way to make an entrance.



 Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters 

Miracles and Blessings ... Charming Gidget Jones here.  I'm a hostess/server at iCafe Woman Moderne.  I asked Kiki if I could host this text-webisode, which is near and dear to my heart. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know about Ten Thousand Villages until several months ago when I received the above Girlfriends' Pin for my birthday.

When you give a Ten Thousand Villages' gift, you're not only buying a beautiful, handcrafted, sustainable product, but you're also helping artisans in third world countries earn a living so they can afford, housing, education, medical ... the essentials needed to survive in this life.

Fair trade enables under- and unemployed artisans to earn vital income and improve their quality of life by establishing a sustainable market for their handcrafted products. 

Ten Thousand Villages is a founding member of the WFTO - the World Fair Trade Organization, a global network of more than 350 fair trade organizations in 70 countries. 


If you never took recycling seriously, these innovative handicrafts will change your mind.  Discarded newspapers, magazines, postcards, soda cans allow people in developing countries to provide for their family and improve their villages.  

Coiled Paper Candy Dish from the Women's Multipurpose Cooperative in Baguio City, the Philippines - $20 

These amazing artisans turn old, discarded newspapers into beautiful products like this coiled paper candy dish by wrapping the paper into coils to make spiraled building blocks.  They're joined with thread and glue, and starched for durability and finish.

Women’s Multipurpose Co-op in turn helps women artisans obtain government help in skills training, buy raw materials, gain access to low interest loans and obtain titles to their land. 

Keeping time never looked so good.
Coiled Newspaper Clock - $28


Patterned wood beads alternate between rolled magazine beads in this one-of-a-kind necklace from Uganda.


Magazine Bead Necklace - $28 - NAWOU - The National Association of Women Organizations in Uganda.  Traditional skills and natural dyes are used to create their crafts.  NAWOU helps with local and export marketing of their handicrafts.  NAWOU artisans earn an income, receive loans, training, counseling, connections to aid agencies and medication assistance.  



When was the last time you had a snack bag of potato chips, Doritas or pretzels?  After you threw it away, did you ever think it would return to life again as a stylish coin purse?

Recycled Coin Purse - $10  Prokritee
Those ingenious artisans in the rural village of Muktagacha, Bangladesh wash and dry the snack bags, then stitch them together to form the outside of the purse, which is lined with cotton fabric and has a zipper.



Prokritee, (means “nature” in Bengali)an agency providing managerial, product design/development and marketing assistance to handicraft organizations in Bangladesh, assist in selling their products in local and foreign markets. 
Re-tread Shoulder Bag  - $68 - Asha Handicrafts Association
Known as the Eco-Chic Geek Bag,  this re-tread shoulder messenger bag that can hold a laptop, was made from recycled inner tube in India.  It includes an "Eco-Geek" label that describes the bag's humble beginnings, stating that any marks in the rubber were "earned through its past life on the road."  You can be sure each bag is unique.

Asha means "hope" in Sanskrit, which defines its goal to sustain the marketing ability of individual and family-based artisans and give them hope for a better future.  This fair trade organization represents more than 6,500 artisans in ten states of India. 

Eco-Friendly Vase - $34, Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts  


If you look closely at the multicolored stripes, you'll see the intricate design from the traditional basket-making technique an innovative Vietnamese artisan used to make this vase of recycled magazine and poster paper.  Tightly coiled paper is dipped in glue to form this durable, elegant vase, which includes a glass liner.

Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts is a nonprofit organization that provides income generation and marketing services to Vietnamese artisans. 

Here are more Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts:

Old newspapers are turned into new and beautiful products by wrapping the paper into coils and forming them into spiraled building blocks.  They're joined with thread and glue to make these napkin rings, then starched to make them firm and shiny.


Coiled Paper Casserole Tray - $28
Carry your hot 9x13-inch casserole dish in this tray made from linked decorative spiral rectangles. Look closer and you’ll see this casserole tray is handcrafted from recycled newsprint.
 Bicycle Planter - $18.00, Community Crafts Association of the Phillipines (CCAP)

Display your small plants and herbs in this unique artwork.   Woven twigs and rattan create this useful bicycle planter for your plants and herbs.  What a great gift for those with green thumbs and pot gardens.  

CCAP, is a social development NGO committed to the development and empowerment of community–based Filipino artisans. CCAP provides marginalized artisans with export promotion and marketing assistance.



Fun for the kids, this quirky African toy is called a Galimoto - $9
Oticart International Limited


Made in Nairobi, Kenya ... homemade galimotos are fashioned by children out of anything from sticks to cornstalks and can be any kind of vehicle.  This one's made from wire.  Watch the rider's legs pedal as the wheels move.  This innovative toy takes imaginative children to faraway worlds they create, and return in time for dinner.


Oticart International Limited, a privately held export and marketing company, help local artisans connect with export markets, providing packaging and quality control support for small workshops in and around Nairobi. 

You'll want to give this toy with the Galimoto (Reading Rainbow) book for Christmas, birthday or just because.  

Galimoto (Reading Rainbow Book)

Galimoto (Reading Rainbow Book)
 

Crocodile Puzzle
What a fun way for tykes to learn there letters and numbers.  On a bright green crocodile letters and numbers in white are on opposite sides of the puzzle pieces, which are painted in various shades of green.  Gold Palm International uses medium density fiber board made from fast-growing plantation pine.

 

Wooden Bicycle Ornament - $12 - Alt Trade Network of Nigeria



Carved from thornwood by Nigerian artisans, they use two to four inch thorns from various trees and depict scenes and activities of the village life.

Alternative Trade Network of Nigeria (ATNN) is a nonprofit nongovernmental trade and development organization that provides direct trade and export market access for small–scale Nigerian producers and artisans.

World Children Wall Hanging - $84 - Comite Artisanal Haitien

A Chain of Blessing
“Cut metal work represents the wealth of Croix des Bouquets,” said Jhonson Augustin, an artisan living and working in this Haitian city. “This is what has made the city famous.” Artisans here make a living from creating art out of recycled metal drums.

 Recycled Lamp Shade -  $44, Prokritee
Recycled snack bags and candy wrappers are woven together using traditional basket-weaving techniques by artisans in rural Bangladesh to create this eye-catching lampshade.

Artisans purchase the bags and wrappers in bulk from recyclers who gather them throughout Bangladesh. One group washes the wrappers with water and detergent, and wipes them dry with clean rags. A second group wraps the papers around thin bamboo strips, which are then used to weave the lampshade around a wooden mold.  


This process keeps the discarded snack bags and wrappers from clogging their drainage system, a major problem there.


My most recent visit in my local Ten Thousand Villages store I spotted a handbag made from recycled snack bags that looked like the coin purse in the earlier scenes.  It took my breath away.  I had already reached my shopping budget, so I had to leave it there.  I thought I could find it online, but I didn't see a photograph of it.  If it's there, or they replace it when I return, I'll buy it and show it to our iCafe Woman Moderne guests.



 Gold Crocheted purses - $14, Hajiganj
Bangladesh also produces these beautiful gold crocheted purses.


Hajiganj is a group of women artisans in one of the poorest areas in Bangladesh, where people are mostly dependent on hiring out to rich farmers who pay very low wages. 

 
Brown Crocheted Handbag - $43.50 - Manos Amigas Peru
Handcrafted by artisans of Manos Amigas in Lima, Peru, it is crochet trimmed with soft brown suede. Adjustable buckle and  drawstring closure.

Manos Amigas, “Hands Joined In Friendship,” works with family workshops and small businesses making a variety of handicrafts in impoverished areas of Lima and in the Andean highlands. 

There you have it.  I've made my list of fair trade products and checked it twice.  Not only will my friends and family members enjoy their innovative, sustainable gifts ... they'll love knowing that this gift will keep on giving to the village where it was handcrafted, for years to come. 

Are you already enjoying a product from Ten Thousand Villages?  Tell us about it.

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