As the newspapers and television stations continue their media blitz of ads for holiday gifts from department stores and malls, 12 Small Things provides a welcome alternative, showcasing handmade gifts from artisans around the world. 12 Small Things, along with By Hand Consulting and HAND/EYE Magazine has curated a collection of great small gifts from skillful artisans preserving cultural craft techniques amidst challenging social, economic and political conditions. This week we are showcasing great gifts from Asia.
Our luminous amber glass jewelry, is made by artisans with the Tara Projects in India. The Tara Projects has been working since the early 1970s to fight exploitation and poverty, and for the protection of artisans against social injustices. Over the years, they have extended their services to reach nearly 1,000 artisans in several states in India. The Tara Projects provide support in the production and marketing of handcrafts based on fair trade principles, while also addressing needs of grassroots craftspeople. They fund a number of community projects such as health programs, schools, training centers, and literacy programs, impacting the lives of hundreds of children and adults in India.
Another popular gift this season is our hand-dyed crinkle silk scarf, created by artisans with Craft Link in Vietnam, who twist the fabric while it dries. Working closely with the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi, Craft Link helps preserve traditional craft skills such as weaving and embroidery of the tribal groups. About 10% of the population of Vietnam is comprised of ethnic hill tribe peoples living in rural mountainous areas who have little access to markets. Craft Link, a non-profit organization, works to assist small Vietnamese craft producers find market opportunities and promotes awareness of ethnic minority crafts and culture. Craft Link also provides marketing, design, and management advice to other disadvantaged groups, like street children and people with disabilities.
The third gift we’re featuring this week is a generous bowl and plate set, created by artisans in Indonesia working with the Mitra Bali Foundation. Designed in collaboration with Keith Recker of HAND/EYE Magazine, the pieces are made of slip-cast ceramic, with the wave detail added by artisans in the remote village of Pejaten, Bali. A non-governmental, non-profit organization, the Mitra Bali Foundation in Indonesia, acts as a market and export facilitator for small craft producers. These small producers represent the diverse Balinese culture that attracts tourism to the area, but because they live in more remote areas and work on a small scale, haven’t benefited by the economic influx of the tourism industry. We are happy to be able to bring these and other thoughtful, handmade gifts to you at 12smallthings.com. Up next, great small gifts from Africa!