Rose Ann Hall
THE ARTISAN : ROSE ANN HALL DESIGNS
Rose Ann Hall Designs employs artisans, many of whom have disabilities, to produce beautiful handmade candles and elegantly carved glassware. They emphasize on the use of recycled materials for each one of a kind product. By promoting traditional Mexican arts, Rose Ann Hall Designs provides income as well as an outlet for artistic expression to individuals with few other opportunities. Rose Ann Hall Designs takes great pride in the uniqueness of its artisans and products.
BEHIND THE SCENES with Rose Ann Hall Designs
On Earth Day, Isabel Sepkowitz, a guest contributor with The Little Market, interviewed Rose Ann Hall Designs about their unique design process. Their beautiful engraved glassware is hand-blown out of recycled glass by talented artisans in Mexico.
QUESTION:What is particularly unique about Rose Ann Hall Designs production?
ANSWER: Rose Ann Hall Designs has always been about Mexico. The founder fell in with Mexico and in the 25 plus years that the company has been in existence, all of the products sold have been made in Mexico. Second, of the twenty employees producing the carved glass and the Santa Rosa Candles for Rose Ann Hall Designs, seven are physically disabled. Lastly, it’s the artisans who create the product. We hire people and train them to do the art form. People learn their craft here.
QUESTION: Where does Rose Ann Hall Designs get its recycled glass for its products?
ANSWER: We work with a number of glass manufacturers that actually produce glass from recycled materials that we use to do the grabado or the glass carving on. Eventually, we hope to have our own glass factory. We’re working on creating a self-supporting non-profit foundation that would actually own and operate a factory for our disabled workers to sell their products.
QUESTION: How important is the quality of material?
ANSWER: Quality is everything. But the question becomes what is quality or how do you determine quality when things are hand-made? No two items are ever alike. Our products vary in size, shape, design. But even when you tell people that, they often spend hours trying to find glasses exactly alike. We often say, “It’s hand-made, perfect, yet imperfect! Just like the people that make it.
QUESTION: How important do you think it is for the customer to have a relationship with the artisan?
ANSWER: Anytime someone can understand what it takes to make our products, they automatically have a much greater respect for the product and the artisan. Everything that we make is hand-made and very labor intensive—and then there is the whole issue of creativity that goes into every piece. So every product that is made has a part of the artisan within it. For us, it’s important for people to understand what we are doing here: we are committed to hiring all types of people, many of whom are disabled. But it’s important for customers to realize that each worker is an artist first regardless of individual disabilities.
QUESTION: How many employees would you say are involved in the making of one single glass?
ANSWER: We have over 15 designs in the carved glass and it’s difficult to guess what customers are going to want and when. We try to have glass waiting so that when companies place orders, we can produce the pieces quickly. It’s possible for one person to do a piece of glass from start to finish, but usually we have different people doing different parts of the glass for practical purposes.
QUESTION: How long does the etching process typically take for the hand-blown glass?
ANSWER: If someone was to do a glass from start to finish, they could do around three an hour.
QUESTION: Where does the etching technique originate?
ANSWER: It is a complicated story. Both Spain and France dominated Mexico. France says they brought over the technique. Spain says they did. None of them really know. But I do know that the technique was brought over from Europe.
QUESTION: Can you give us an example of one of the workshops you offer to your artisans?
ANSWER: Last year in May 2013, the company was recognized by the governor of Guanajuato as the most innovative and inclusive company in Guanajuato. We produce and sell to several customers inside of San Miguel. That says a lot for the level of quality and reputation that we have.
QUESTION: How does Rose Ann Hall Designs benefit the community in San Miguel de Allende?
ANSWER: Many people in the Rabinal area are poor, and this drought pushes them to the edge of despair. There are no other sources of income available in the region. Artisan production and fair trade become all the more important in a situation like this. In this predicament, MH is looking for more customers and developing new products for them. We are thrilled to be partnering with The Little Market, and selling their products (tablecloths and napkins) through your wonderful website.