Artisan Grants. Morocco.

14 12 2013

The reports here represent a tiny fraction of the grants given out by the volunteer group at the heart of HETAG in the course of almost 2o years of grant making. For more information email Joanne Heard at joanne@handeye.org

Hsini Family Yarns.

Bouarfa, Morocco
Crafts: Rugs, weaving
$1152.50 Award for Spinning wheel, dyes, equipment

The small grant has allowed the group to have spinning equipment designed and built locally. Traditionally, wool for their carpets is spun by hand-held equipment – like drop spindles and hand-held combs. This is laborious and hard on the spinners’ health – especially tendons in the wrists and arms. Together we researched spinning equipment and designed a foot-pedal spinning wheel, wool picker and rolling drum carder that could all be made with local resource.

DSC03557

The group is learning on the equipment now with plans to host a training in the coming weeks for other wool spinners and weavers in the community.  The Moroccan ministry in charge of artisan work caught wind of this project through my community counterpart at the Artisan Agency. They want the group to do equipment training throughout the region.  A post-grant report from a volunteer working with touch with the group reads:

We have held one natural dye training and have a second planned for next week. We dyed with materials easily available in Morocco: dried pomegranate shells, leaves from olive trees, onion skins, turmeric, tea leaves, coffee, madder,  chamomile, henna and dried orange peels. The pink-orange color produced by the madder was a hit. We will bring in a trainer from Sefrou to train on dyeing with indigo. Natural dyes are addictive! I have started buying wool from the group and dyeing in my kitchen for some of my own art projects. 

Does the grants organization visit groups? Artists’ Association of Spinning and Weaving extend a very warm welcome to ATA, should anyone be visiting Morocco in the future. They would love to share their work with the group that has opened up so many opportunities to them.  As we say in Arabic: Marhaba bikum! 

Cooperative Tissage Ain Leuh
Ain Leuh, Morocco
Craft: traditional Berber weavings including carpets, shawls, pillow coverings, and bags
Granted: $1,500 for weaving tools and looms (World of Good Grant)

tissage ain Lueh

The artisans report a variety of results from their grant support, including a broader product offering, additional artisans employed, more orders/customers and improved production:
“The new looms, equipment, and supplies that were purchased have enabled the women to expand their product line.  They can now make blankets, shawls and jellaba fabric on the horizontal looms and continue to make rugs on the vertical looms.  The new products enable them to use different materials, such as cactus silk, and to produce products faster and therefore at a different price range, so they can expand their customer base.  were just installed mid-March 2008.  The number of regular weavers increased from 10 to 16.   Also, there are a number of local women weavers, not currently members of the cooperative, who could now participate on a part-time basis, based on the expanded production capacity.”

UpcloseWhiteLozengesKilimTiaage Ain Leuh. Kilim.

They also note expanded access to the local market and an increase in the portion of the price that goes to the artisan:

Previous sales were primarily the high-ticket items ,hnbl  carpets, accessible mostly to tourists.  Now there are a number of lesser priced items, l’haik shawls, for example, that are within the price range of local residents, and have been enthusiastically received.  These new items are also marketed in the nearby Azrou Ensemble Artisanal.  The women could not quantify sales before and after but they did say that where they previously paid each weaver 500 dh per square meter, they are now able to give each weaver 700 dh per square meter.

The weavers also plan to introduce natural dyes to their product lines, as a result of this overall expansion. Finally, the report summarizes:

The grant enabled them to by everything they needed to expand their business – looms, weaving combs, yarn and wool.  They have enthusiastically jumped into the process of learning the new looms and of weaving new products.  These women have ambition, skill and imagination and the grant helped them to expand their potential.

The grant underscored that others outside the Region had an understanding and appreciation for the work the women are doing.  They are committed, experienced, excellent weavers making an exquisite, traditional Berber product, which is at risk of disappearing if the women cannot support themselves.  Thank you for your grant and your confidence.

Original Post HandEye Magazine

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