THE TECHNIQUE : WOOD CARVING & SCULPTING
We are proud to work with many talented wood carvers and artisans from around the world. Some of their beautiful products we carry include olive wood serving platters, acacia wood bowls, and wood sitting shelf animals. Through each handcrafted piece, these talented artisans are able to gain a sustainable income while continuing traditional practices. We love that each artisan group has a unique approach to sourcing and carving the wood.
In Tunisia, Le Souk Olivique purchases raw wood, and it then takes approximately one year for the wood to dry naturally outside to avoid any splitting. The artisans use small tools for fine cutting, sand the wood, insert the wood in a food-safe finishing oil, and allow the wood to drip dry for one day. In the final stages, the artisans complete the sanding and buffing with oil and a towel. This step develops a smooth finish and locks in any moisture that may have remained in place.
The Little Market currently partners with two artisan groups in Kenya: Wood Carvers of Kenya and Acacia Creations. Artisans at Wood Carvers of Kenya are hand-carving fair trade pieces from African wild olive. Olive wood is a rich, warm wood that is prized for its durability and beautiful grain patterns. The olive wood tree is sacred to Kenyans, who are recognized worldwide for their expert ability to craft functional and beautiful art from the natural elements. When the wood carvers have an assortment of items to work on, they can efficiently use each evergreen tree.
Artisans with Acacia Creations in Kenya carve and handcraft beautiful pieces such as wooden carved animals. In Nairobi, raw jacaranda wood is collected and taken to a carving center. Professional carvers train young artisans in this traditional skill. Once a wooden sitting animal is finished with a carving and sanding process, it is taken to a painting studio. The cost of education is high in Kenya, and many residents do not complete high school. By learning these techniques, the team members and artisans receive vocational training, gain skills, and start earning a sustainable income.
Acacia Creations and SAFFY artisans Philippines work with licensed tree farmers to receive wood that has been sustainably harvested. After initially shaping the wood, the pieces must dry over a period of several weeks. Then the lacquer and the top coat are added. Acacia Creations has been working with artisans who have been making wooden tableware by hand for three generations. We work with artisans at Acacia Creations and SAFFY in the Philippines as they carve wooden pieces by hand.
Our furniture collection from Morocco is handmade by artisans at Chabi Chic. Olive wood, lemon wood, and walnut wood are used by the artisans who hand-sculpt these fair trade products. They work with the wood from dry lands, and they do not harm any of the trees. The stools and benches are made by artisans preserving beautiful cultural traditions of Morocco.
Artisans working with Matr Boomie in India carve bone and mangowood to create beautiful home décor pieces including frames and handcrafted boxes. Approximately 10 to 15 artisans work together to create each batch of products while preserving traditional techniques that are local to the community. The artisans use locally sourced bone materials from animals that have died naturally. They then carve the bone pieces into the desired shape, polish them, and assemble them onto a wood base to create picture frames or boxes. This process can take approximately three to four weeks to complete. By working with Matr Boomie, skilled artisans have access to job security, fair wages, and safe working conditions.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ARTISANS
Acacia Creations is a fair trade studio based in Nairobi, Kenya that creates beautiful, eco-friendly jewelry, gifts, and home accents.
The group has expanded its reach beyond Kenya, partnering with thousands of artisans in East Africa, the Philippines, and other countries. Acacia Creations aims to help people in a sustainable manner, including by creating jobs, providing training, and giving back to communities through education and healthcare initiatives.
The studio of Le Souk Ceramique opened in 1997 in Nabeul, Tunisia. Each timeless design is created in the studio where the artisans do not use any machinery or decals. The artisans mix every color batch of food safe glazes by hand and freehand paint every detail, resulting in one-of-a-kind works. Le Souk sets wages above minimum wage, provides healthcare and social security payments for artisans, and is in process to receive Tunisia’s Fair Trade certification.
Kenyan wood carvers are recognized worldwide for expertly sculpting art from native woods using sustainable practices. The olive wood tree is sacred to Kenyans and appreciated worldwide for its beautiful grain patterns and durability. Kenyan carvers present the beauty of their natural world in finely crafted decorative and functional art. The artisans, their families and communities benefit greatly from the sale of olive wood products.
Chabi Chic works with approximately 18 artisans and suppliers between the ages of 20 to 60. While some of the artisans, such as those who work on pottery and ceramics, are based out of workshops, some also work out of their homes. They work hard to preserve a tradition that has been passed down through generations and that is facing competition in today’s environment. Chabi Chic is part of the Marrakech Cultural and Creative Industries, a program started by the United Nations. Through this program, Chabi Chic is given access to Euro funds for the artisans looking to improve their skill sets and sell their work via trading and communication. Each purchase of the products in this collection empowers these skilled artisans and their families.
Matr Boomie, formally Handmade Expressions is a sourcing partner for socially and environmentally responsible products. They work with underprivileged and disadvantaged artisans in India and strive to improve their economic and social standing by creating self-sustainable employment following fair trade practices. They partner with grass-root level NGOs and artisan cooperatives and help them create high quality handmade goods. They empower the artisans with market and fashion information that allow them to create functional products. At the same time, they encourage them to use natural fibers and recycled material wherever possible.
SAFFY is a social enterprise within SAFRUDI, a nonprofit organization working with artisans in the Philippines. The artisans are members of marginalized rural communities, among them women and indigenous peoples. SAFFY provides employment opportunities to skilled artisans regardless of age; the artisans range in age from 18 to 60 years of age. The majority of the artisans work from a communal shop. However, some of the women artisans, particularly those living in very remote locations, have the option to work from the comfort of their homes. This provides them with an opportunity to care for their families while earning a sustainable income. SAFFY empowers artisans through the provision of support services including skill development, product development insights, and financial management training.