With the holidays just around the corner, 12 Small Things, along with By Hand Consulting and HAND/EYE Magazine has curated a collection of great small gifts from around the world for thoughtful gift-giving this season. All the products are handmade by skillful artisans preserving cultural craft techniques amidst challenging social, economic and political conditions.
A number of gifts in the collection are from Guatemala, imported by La Casa Guatemala. La Casa was founded as a retail store in Guatemala City in 1994, selling fine textiles, colonial-style antique furniture, and folk art relating to the everyday life of the indigenous Mayan population. They have exported an increasingly wide range of Guatemalan handcrafted merchandise since 1995, and are committed to generating sustainable, optimum income-producing crafts, including new opportunities for existing artisan groups, and training for incipient groups.
Among their most unique products are the Indigo Tote and Weekend Bags, made from repurposed traditional fabric used for skirts worn by Guatemalan women. The indigo-colored fabric is woven by men on foot looms in the area of Sacatepequez. The fabric is then stitched together by women in lengthwise panels with multicolored thread embroidery for added embellishment. Each tote and weekend bag is made from vintage cloth that varies slightly along with the colorful hand embroidery, and is trimmed in fine leather.
Another great gift from Guatemala is La Casa’sIndigo Cotton Scarf. The soft, loosely woven cotton scarves are dyed by a Tzutuhil Maya women’s cooperative in San Juan La Laguna on the edge of Lake Atitlan. Indigo was an extremely important dye for Mayans throughout the period of the Spanish Colony, but indigo production virtually disappeared in Guatemala during the 20th century. The indigo used for these scarves represents an effort to reintroduce traditional materials and techniques to Mayan artisans.