Craft and Compassion
The return to artisan-made crafts is creating a positive shift in the world, one lovingly made object at a time. From building local economies and reinvigorating centuries-old trades to expressing beauty, artisans are influencing the way we think about craft.
Stories of artisans around the globe—and the change their craft is forging—are documented in the Winter 2012 issue of Hand Eye Magazine, an independent, international publication exploring the nexus between design, culture , commerce, art, environment and ethics.
“Every story has a special spark,” magazine founder and editor Keith Recker said. “And in some cases, the circumstances they need to overcome are so dire. In other cases, it’s the deep cultural creativity.”
Focusing on the theme of “craft and compassion,” the issue was conceived by the Fetzer Advisory Council on Labor, Trades, and Crafts. The group worked to locate love in action within the world of craft.
Kavita Parmar’s IOU Project is one of 26 stories in the magazine. Just a year old, IOU Project is redefining the relationship between artisans and consumers by providing deeper insight into the production process.
“I think for the first time, we have the tools as individuals to empower ourselves and each other,” said Parmar, a designer by trade. “Why shouldn’t an artisan have more value than a big box retailer?”
IOU Project offers one-of-a-kind designs made from madras fabric hand woven in India. Each garment is tagged with a QR code that introduces purchasers to the farmers, weavers, dyers, and tailors who crafted it.
IOU Project has sold 35,000 items online and through trunk sales. Despite a marketing budget of zero, it has started conversations about responsible consumption in the media and blogosphere.
“All because people have talked about it, shared it,” Parmar said. “The world is full of incredible, authentic products.”
In Kenya, marine biologist Julie Church addresses an environmental challenge by recycling some 70,000 flip flops each year on ocean shorelines into colorful jewelry and art.
“It’s made a big difference [to the local artisans],” said Church, who established UniqueEco in 2005. “They have an income they didn’t have before, jobs where there are no jobs. Because they’ve been able to earn money, they have had choices.”
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Labor, Trades and Crafts.