Great small gifts from Africa and Haiti December 23 2011, 0 Comments

There is still time left to get thoughtful, unique, handmade gifts for the holidays. 12 Small Things is offering a collection of fair trade, hand-made gifts that gift back, by helping to support artisan communities in need around the world. 12 Small Things, along with By Hand Consulting and HAND/EYE Magazine has curated a collection of gifts from skillful artisans preserving cultural craft techniques amidst challenging social, economic and political conditions. This week we are showcasing great gifts from Africa and Haiti.

Our glass shell necklace is made by artisans in Ghana who use recycled glass and shells to make this beautiful beaded necklace. The process involves funneling recycled glass into clay molds and firing them in a wood-burning kiln. The bead-makers make the process look easy, but it takes years of apprenticeship and practice to be recognized as an accomplished artisan. The Krobo people are known for their beads and Cedi is one of the best-known bead-makers in Ghana, with a large workshop and several employees, selling both locally and internationally.

Artist Cedi in Ghana  Mozambique artisan

From Mozambique we have extraordinarily carved ebony wood vessels from Outpost Original. Crafted from sustainably sourced mpingo wood by artisans living in Mozambique’s vast woodlands, these sophisticated storage jars are both useful and beautiful. Mpingo is the Kiswahili word for the dark hardwood also known as African black wood or Mozambican ebony, and grows prolifically in Mozambique’s forests. The unique lids of these stylish lathe-turned jars are a chance for the carvers to show off their skills.

For an extra special one-of-a-kind holiday gift, 12 Small Things is proud to be able to offer Haitian vodou flags by the artist George Valris. Haiti’s Ceremonial Banners, or Vodou Flags, are tapestries of sequins and beads trimmed with a satin backing. The flags represent various spirits, or lwa, of Vodou, based on religious beliefs and practices slaves brought with them from West Africa. Vodou flags, exhibited in ceremonies, serve to call down particular spirits who help practitioners with their personal problems and aspirations. Because slaves were forbidden from practicing Vodou, they also adopted Catholic saints to represent the various spirits of love, water, trees, crops, etc. We are happy to be able to bring these and other thoughtful, handmade gifts to you at 12 Small Things.

Artist George Valris with friend

Happy holidays! Laurie