Handcrafted and Authentically Artisanal
I have always had a Bohemian bent; therefore, I have always been drawn to original, handcrafted, artisanal products, particularly jewelry and home accessories. Since I discovered Dina Verano, an RISD graduate, and her handmade jewelry, I made it a point to focus on researching and buying only handmade unique accessories and jewelry.
My work with Spradling brings me to Bogotá, Colombia, a country where many artisans of all different types are still in existence, particularly ones that craft jewelry or handmade products for the home. I discovered during my second visit to Bogotá, Artesanias de Colombia, a fabulous store that sells only authentic, handcrafted, high-end products. I’ve purchased not only handcrafted products, but products with materials that are indigenous to the country, such as mango wood vases painted in a modern style with metallic stripes—my perfect combination: artisanal style executed in a modern way! I’ve packed many pre-Colombian ceramic pieces in my suitcase to make the trek home with me. One time I had such a large piece I had to carry it on the plane. It was too big for the overhead, so I coerced the steward to place it in a first class storage area. I discovered black hand-shaped pottery, which Colombians use as their everyday dishes; three years later Neiman Marcus discovered it, and put it in their catalogs for triple the price.
The US Dept. of State and the Aspen Institute states, “behind agriculture, artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world“. US companies, like West Elm, have recognized the desire for handcrafted, authentic products in a homogenized ‘everything-looks-alike’ world. Several of these companies began supporting the artisans, many of which are women, by purchasing products from them and guaranteeing a living for the craftspeople and their families.