Generational Learning

The textile artisans of Sano del Reloncavi

Not-for-profit Artesanias de Chile has made its business to preserve Chile’s cultural identity. The organization  helps create economic opportunities for the country’s craftspeople to help sustain their families, but also promote--within the country and abroad--Chilean handicrafts.

To generate awareness, the not-for-profit organization has established a network of artisans throughout the country. Their programs apply the principles of fair trade that ensures ethical business transactions that are based on a sustainable model and meet high standard of quality in each of the pieces produced. These items are evaluated by a committee of experts in traditional handcrafts that are either exhibited, sold in their six stores, or via other sales channels.

Artesanias de Chile’s artisan network currently has 2,121 craftspeople where 77 percent are rural based. Eighty-three percent of the artisan network consists of women and 57 percent of the artisans belong to one of seven indigenous groups in Chile.

Among the textile artisans that Artesanias de Chile partners with are the women textile artisans of Sano de Reloncavi whose skills have been handed down from one generation to the next. Located in the southern region of Chile, this group of women artisans is recognized for their colorful and warm textiles. As part of the network of artisans, the women have received training in sales and marketing support.

Training programs are broken down to two modules. The first is designed to strengthen technical skills in creating textiles that are not limited to spinning, dyeing, and weaving but that go further back in the wool process from sheep care to shearing, combing and washing the wool. The second module centers on expanding trade capabilities of artisan groups and expanding their marketing networks. “Artesanías de Chile recognizes the importance of networking, especially with local companies and institutions. Thus it has the services of local consultants to implement training and supervision along the lines that the Foundation delivers,” Claudia Wladdimiro Quevedo, communications director at Artesanias de Chile.

To expand the member artisan’s marketshare and meet potential buyers, Artesanias de Chile will be attending NY NOW’s Artisan Resource from August 21st through August 24th at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center. The organization will exhibit textiles made from Alpaca fiber by the Aymara artisans who live in North Chile; rugs, blankets and other textiles made from sheep’s wool by the Mapuche artisans from the south of Chile, as well jewelry made from silver and horse hair.

For more information about the organization and its artisans visit http://www.artesaniasdechile.cl

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