Tuesday, November 30, 2010
A little about the materials and process...
The Ceiba tree is the sacred tree of life for the Mayans, and is indigenous to Central America. Like an eco-system in itself it harbors a host of plant and animal life and towers above the forest, growing up to 100 metres tall.
The filling for the toys, kapok, is collected sustainably from the seed pods of the Ceiba tree. It is naturally anti-bacterial, dust mite and water resistant and is considered especially appropriate for those with sensitive skin and allergies.
Ceiba Tree fabrics are specially selected, one lovely soft fabric is
organic hemp combined with cotton fleece, while another is hand woven cotton from traditional communities in Guatemala. The colours for the toys are made entirely from plant and vegetable materials selected and collected by hand. The dyes and tannins are boiled to create colourfast dyes, in an array of subtle and individual hues. The ladies in the volcanic mountains around the sacred lake Atitlan collect the plants from the mountain top, and grow the cotton themselvs, they not only spin the cotton, and dye the thread, but also hand weave the fabric on traditional backstrap looms. When I went to visit them earlier this year, only one town around the lake was still practicing the natural dyes, so it is wonderful to support these women and their amazing knowledge in their traditional methods.
After that the fabric goes to Guatemala City and is screen printed with all the toy patterns and markings with water based ink.
Then off to an inspiring Fair Trade Womens association UPAVIM (an acranim meaning together for a better life). It began with a group of women who have
transformed the desperate living conditions of their community on the outskirts of Guatemala City by forming an organisation over 30 years ago which is now providing Fair Trade employment making handcrafts, health care, education, nutritional food, and above all hope for their own community's future.