Handmade fair trade folk art and craft

Capiz

Capiz is the shell of the "windowpane oyster" (Placuna placenta) a bivalve marine mollusk.  This type of oyster is edible, but valued more for shells and pearls. The shells have been used for thousands of years as a glass substitute because of their durability and translucence. More recently they are used in to make decorative items such as chandeliers, lampshades, jewelry and wind chimes. 


Calavera

Calavera is the spanish word for skull. The term is most often used for decorative skulls made from sugar (calaverita = sugar skull) or other materials such as clay which are used in the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) .   Calavera can also refer to any artistic representations of skeletons  such as the lithographs of José Guadalupe Posada.


Dia de Muertos

Day of the Dead, a Latin American holiday to honor and celebrate the deceased.  

Fair Trade

Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to alleviating global poverty and promoting sustainability.  The movement advocates the payment of a fair price as well as social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of goods.  It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, mostly handicrafts and agricultural products.  Fair trade works with marginalized producers and workers to help them move from a position of vulnerability to economic self-sufficiency.  It also empowers individuals to take part in their own organizations and actively contribute in the global arena to achieve equality in international trade.


Huichol People

Descendents of the Aztec, the Huichol number about 18,000, most of whom live in the sierra of Jalisco and Nayarit. Having withstood the Spanish Invasion, they are still striving to keep their culture alive and viable, despite the ever increasing physical and cultural encroachment of their Mexican neighbors. Peyote is a focal point for their ceremonies, and their colorful beadwork and yarnwork reflects a reverent and symbiotic relationship with nature.  Even though new materials are being used in their artwork, traditional symbols are maintained and transmitted to younger generations and most Huichol patterns and designs have religious and cultural significance.  The art produced today by the Huichol for commercial purposes provides an important, sustainable source of income.


Milagros

Milagros (miracles) are small metal images of animals, body parts, and other representational symbols.  Milagros are used in Latin America to petition saints for help or protection or to thank the saint for prayers that have been answered.  In many churches one can see wooden statues of various saints with milagros pinned to them for this purpose.


Nicho

Decorative shadow box used as a small alter.  In the U.S. nichos are used mostly as picture frames.


Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a state located in southwest Mexico known for its indigenous people and cultures. The most numerous and best known are the Zapotecs and the Mixtecs but there are sixteen that are officially recognized. These cultures have survived better than most others in Mexico due to the state's rugged and isolating terrain. Most live in the Central Valleys region, which is also an important area for tourism, attracting people for its archeological sites such as Monte Alban, as well as for amazing native culture and crafts.  Oaxaca is also one of the most biologically diverse states in Mexico.


Tagua

The tagua nut comes from the Ecuadorian ivory palm and is commonly referred to as “vegetable ivory” because when it hardens it looks and feels like ivory.  the medium-sized palm, reaching up to 60 feet tall, grows quickly and easily in shady, humid places hidden below larger trees. Tagua grows from regenerative pods, which emerge from the palms’ trunks. the pods are removed from the palm and the seeds are left to dry in the sun to the point at which they can be used by the artisans to create tagua jewelry.