Most of us can use a little more Love, Hope, Peace and Joy in our lives. These ornaments, handcrafted from upcycled steel drums, serve as reminders that help us to focus our thoughts on the positive qualities that make life beautiful. They can be hung inside or outside, year round, or for a special occasions; it is all up to your imagination. In addition to helping economically-disadvantage artisans, they can also inspire great conversations with friends and families.
The art of making metal crafts from recycled metal drums began about 50 years ago in Haiti, when a blacksmith used discarded metal drums to make crosses for the cemetery. Today the artisans in the village of Croix de Bouquets in Haiti are engaged in transforming used metal drums into beautiful pieces of art.
Each ornament is approximately 4" in diameter
Handmade in Haiti and fair trade imported.
Haiti is known worldwide for its unique steel drum art. Artisans collect these salvaged industrial drums to create beuatiful pieces of art.The artist first removes both round ends of the drum and fills the cylinder with straw and dried banana or sugar cane leaves. He sets it on fire, to burn off any paint or residues inside the cylinder. After the metal cools down, it is cut and flattened into a "metal canvas".
With chalk, the design is drawn onto the metal sheet. Using hammer, chisel and various other basic tools, the metal is given shape and several decorative patterns are embossed onto the metal, creating a unique and treasured piece of recycled art. The artisans' creativity is inspired by themes familiar to their island life, including the sea and religion. Colors, coats and finishes are applied to the embossed metal, finally the piece is signed off by the artisan.
This particular art form was born in Haiti in the early 1950's by a simple blacksmith, Georges Liautaud. In his small shop, he made and repaired tools and created metal crosses for the graves in the Croix-des-Bouquets cemetery. It was at the encouragement of an American teacher, DeWitt Peters, who in 1944 opened the Le Centre d'Art in Port-au-Prince, that Georges Liautaud expanded into the creation of decorative metal sculptures. A few talented men apprenticed under him, and this tradition has continued. A particular metal artist will have assistants, who, as they mature in the art, will branch out and begin expressing themselves with their own designs. In the recent years, metal drums are being replaced by plastic drums, and the availability of metal scrap for these beautiful artworks is dimishing.
Empowering Haiti’s Artisan Culture to Improve Community Wellbeng
Haiti is often considered the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Haitian artisans live in a country where the political climate and hardships imposed by economic embargos and sanctions in the 1990's have contributed to poverty and accelerated environmental degradation. Health care and education are unobtainable dreams for the impoverished 75-80% majority. The average income is $55. per month. Only 40% of the population has access to potable drinking water and 25% have access to sanitary sewage systems. Infant mortality is over 7%, malnutrition is a common ailment, and almost half of the population is illiterate.
Despite this adversity there is hope. The Artisan Business Network (ABN) empowers Haitians with entrepreneurial tools, design input, and market access. The ABN is making essential improvements the earnings or artisans, helping them to provide for their families and community wellbeing through commerce based in Haiti's profound artisanal culture.
ABN strives to empower Haiti’s artisan culture in order to improve community well-being. They have three depots located in Jacmel, Port-au-Prince and Croix-des-Bouquets and support the traditional arts in several mediums including: metal crafts, soapstone, paper mache, and plant fibers.
Talented Haitians are ready and eager to recapture the losses brought about by the economic trade embargo of the 1990's, subsequent internal political deadlock, and the devastation of the January 2010 earthquake. Because of the efforts of ABN, and their ability to connect artisan handcrafts with the international market, many artisans are now able to better care for themselves and their families.
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