Friday, October 20, 2017

Bolga Market Baskets with Rubber Handles

Did you know we offer some styles of African baskets with rubber handles as an alternative to leather? Both our large Bolga market baskets and small Bolga market baskets have this option. You can purchase online or at our Port Gamble, Washington store. The recycled rubber handles are durable as well as comfortable to grip. All of our Bolga baskets are handmade, fair trade products of the West African nation of Ghana.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

West African Straw Fans


Here we are again with an off-season post. ​We are fully stocked up again on our ​West African Straw Fans, available online and at our Port Gamble store. These fair trade fans are made from elephant grass with goatskin handles, and hail from Ghana. They work really well but also can be decorative. $24.99.

Knit Wool Christmas Stockings from Nepal

Every October we make the same apology about it being terribly early to post about Christmas. However, every year we have customers awaiting our fall shipment of handmade wool knit Christmas stockings from Nepal, and since some styles sell out quickly, we like to get word out early. Our 2017 selection is now in stock and available online. They won't be in our brick and mortar stores in Port Gamble and Bainbridge Island until early November. These beautiful fair trade knit Christmas stockings are 100% wool and are imported by Ganesh Himal Trading, a venerable fair trade organization in Spokane, Washington.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Product Spotlight: Binga Baskets from Zimbabwe

Binga baskets, also commonly called Tonga baskets, are traditional grain winnowing baskets handmade by the Batonga people in the Binga district in Zimbabwe. Most are characterized by a round, flat shape that display easily on walls, although occasionally they are bowl-shaped. They are typically cream and brown colored, and are lightweight with a sturdy rim. Ours range in size from about 11" to 20" in diameter, and about 1"-2" deep, although we occasionally see one in a deeper bowl shape.

You can purchase our Binga baskets one of two ways. One option is to select an individual basket that you see pictured, and we will ship that exact basket. The other option is to choose from our "Assorted" baskets, and we will choose the basket for you. If you purchase using the second method, you will automatically receive a 10% discount for purchasing three or more, making it a good option if you want to buy several at once.

Bingas are among the more neutral African baskets in color, and their patterns range from simple to elaborate. We don't recommend them for storing fruit or similar, as they are usually too shallow. They are at their best when displayed upright.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Product Spotlight: Zulu Wire Baskets

The Zulu people of South Africa have a long tradition of  high quality basket weaving, as evidenced by the spectacular Ukhamba baskets. In recent years, they have added a modern twist with the use of telephone wire. It is thought that Zulu men working as security guards began using scrap wire to decorate their batons, and from there branched out into basket weaving. Whatever the origins, the baskets are now made with new wire sourced from factories, including plastic wire as well as bare copper and silver wire. Telephone wire baskets are woven from the rim down, and typically a cup, bowl, or other household item is used as a form to weave around and then is removed at the end of the process. The result is a symmetrical basket with rigid walls that can be easily cleaned, and typically is longer lasting than a natural fiber basket.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Thanks, Martha!

Our longtime customers know that we have carried straw hats from Ghana and Burkina Faso for many years. They sell steadily online, not so much in our stores in the sun-deprived Pacific Northwest. Then one day we get an email from Martha Stewart living, and the result is that we are selling a WHOLE LOT OF HATS. Businesses like ours don't get press like this very often, and we are grateful and excited. It's good for us, good for the weavers, and good for fair trade, which we want to see become mainstream in the same way organic food has. And this is a great looking photo shoot, don't you think? You can see our West African straw hats here. We're a bit low on stock, but more will be online within a week.