Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Our Visit To The Craft Communities

(From left to right) Comfort, Seraphim and Patricia showcasing the Zaare Baskets made from recycled material

The entrance to the Bolgatanga Craft Village

Hello from Team Bolga! We are a group of twelve volunteers volunteering on the TradeAID INCOME project with ICS here in Bolgatanga, Ghana. We arrived here at the beginning of January, and after settling into the culture and learning the way of life here, we are now beginning to introduce ourselves to the local community craft groups.

Smock Makers

Making the fabric for the smocks, a key part of traditional attire in Ghana

First we visited the market and looked around the different shops, eventually coming to the smock shops where we were invited to meet the workers. We saw some ladies making thread combination and learnt how the fabric is formed. The leader told us that they have to go as far as Kumasi (capital of the Ashanti region) to get their silk, and their cotton comes from Burkina Faso. Many of the smocks are eloquently embroidered with silk, and range from 70-80 cedis all the way up to 200 cedis. We are hoping to find out much more about the smock makers throughout our project, including the question of are we able to diversify the smocks to appeal to a larger audience of customers?

Leather Workers

The leather workers have a huge variety of products including sandals, cushions and bags
Different bags on display in the Craft Village
Different patterns are produced to make each bag unique
Background: cushions. Foreground: a type of wallet
The following day, we went to the Bolgatanga Craft Village and took a walk around the stores where there was a huge variety of goods. We got the opportunity to speak to the sellers and they told us they got thick leathers from local tanners. However we learnt that the way they tan the leather means the quality is very low – we would like to look into how we could make the leather of better quality. We would also like to include customer service into our training, and advertise the craft village better, even branching to selling the products on an ecommerce site.

Fabric Design, Women with Disabilities

The INCOME project empowers people with disabilities by helping create and sell beautiful fabrics such as these
We visited the women with disabilities who are involved in fabric design: they get their materials from Melody, who runs a fabric shop next door. If you take your material to them and tell them how you’d like it designed they are happy to do it for you. They can potentially make up to two dresses a day, working very hard. They also told us they’d like to be trained up in bead work.

Sumbrungu and Zaare: Basket Weaving
The components for the traditional baskets are straw, dye... and nothing else

Incredible patterns are created by overlapping different coloured lengths of straw

Finally we visited the basket weavers, who weave and dye baskets which are sold at the town’s market. We learnt about the weaving process and some of us even tried weaving for ourselves! We would like to research more information into who their buyers are, and potentially opening up their market so that they can generate more profits. As you can see from the photos above, the baskets are quite diverse and beautifully made. We are looking forward to working with and getting to know the craft groups more in the upcoming weeks!

Photo credits, Katherine O'Donnell (www.katherineodonnell.co.uk) , Yasmin Clayson (www.thesweetsevenfive.com)

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