Posts Tagged ‘artisans’


Look at this thing of beauty! I ordered it direct from Ghana to replace my old laundry basket. Here’s how I learned about the amazing Baba Tree.

The story starts with Suzanne’s bicycle. She wanted a bicycle basket and went online to see what might be available. That’s when she found a company in Ghana that helps basket-making artisans sell their works in the global marketplace.

Suzanne ordered a bicycle basket, and when it arrived safe and sound a few weeks later, I happened to be at her house. I starting thinking, What kind of basket do I need? I went online.

Founder Gregory MacCarthy writes an oddly defensive blog at Baba Tree in which he explains about the company, the prices, and the reasons he is not applying for “fair trade” status. As I read it just now, I was reassured — I have a lovely basket in front of me and I like finding quirky individuals behind something good.

MacCarthy writes, “We are not a ‘project,’ a charity, a foundation or a non – governmental organization (NGO). Though we engage small acts of charity every day, we are here, in Bolgatanga, to do business and do our best to empower the folks with whom we work through the open market. …

“The people with whom we work are very capable. Though we have customers who are very committed to their charities and purchase our baskets wholesale to raise money for them, the Baba Tree chooses to empower our people in the market place.┬áIt’s not that the Baba Tree is fundamentally opposed to aid and charity, it’s that it is rarely carried out honestly, efficiently and effectively which creates further dysfunction.

“The weavers with whom the Baba Tree works are more than capable of taking care of themselves, excelling through their own sweat and creativity that ultimately produces Excellence. The Baba Tree refines and cultivates the excellence brought forth through our weavers, and does an excellent job organizing and marketing that excellence throughout the world. …

“We are not subsidized in any form at all. All that is produced, and received, by the Baba Tree, is through our own sweat and creativity. At the Baba Tree everyone gets paid.”

A card inserted with my basket describes the hours spent stripping and dying elephant grass fibers, then braiding them in the Baba Tree compound to the accompaniment of “laughter and singing … interwoven into the very folds of our baskets.”

In the picture of my new basket (created by Martha, I’m told), you can see that “Do Not Crush” was written on the box. Although neither my basket nor Suzanne’s got crushed, the boxes and the baskets inside sometimes do suffer in transit from Ghana. For that reason, a paper was enclosed telling me how to fluff out a crushed basket by soaking it first in a tub of water.

I loved tip no. 8 on that paper: “Please do your best to use the water to water a tree or plant” after finishing. That tells me so much about Africa and about this company. And it reminds me that we should all be more thoughtful and thrifty with our abundant water.

Read more at Baba Tree and enjoy the gorgeous pictures there.


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Did you ever see a finer dishtowel? The blogger KerryCan wove it for me after I won a drawing at “Love Those Hands at Home,” her site. I cherish it.

This is how it came about. Back in October, KerryCan asked readers, many of whom are experienced artisans, whether they were more process-oriented or product-oriented. She had recently decided that what she herself loved most about her creative endeavors — which include quilting, weaving, chocolate making, and collecting vintage linens for her Etsy shop — was the process. I said the same about my past jobs working on magazines.

She put all commenters into a drawing for a handwoven dishtowel that she would make to the winner’s color specifications.

Now, KerryCan is a person who regularly makes thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs, so she attracts an impressive number of thoughtful commenters herself. I encourage you to read their responses to the process/product challenge, here.

Another fun KerryCan post asks readers if they are get-it-done Focusers or Flitterers, as she claims to be. She seems wistful that Flitterers like herself, who like to have numerous projects going at once, don’t get to check much off their lists. But I think people should embrace their own style.

I myself am probably more of a Time Waster than a Focuser or Flitterer — except on days when I schedule myself up. But then, some of the people whose creative output I admire most have been notorious Time Wasters, so maybe something of value is going on beneath the surface.

I hope you will check out “Love Those Hands at Home” — maybe even answer the latest challenge. You will be in the company of people who really think about things.

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