Welcome to The Green Seahorse

African Artisans


The Takataka Collection - Turning Trash into Treasure

Takataka literally means “trash” in Swahili. Even before being Green was vogue, African craftspeople used discarded material for their handcrafted pieces. In the early 90’s the NGO KICK (Kisumu Innovation Centre – Kenya) designed bicycle and “Dancing Girl” jewelry from discarded tin cans and wire. Decades later, more than 150 artisans in Kisumu make these products, including young women from a teenage mothers group who make paper jewelry as well.

Artisans in South Africa have, likewise, created an industry from trash. A small group of Zimbabwean refugees in Cape Town designed jewelry pieces from soda cans creating a sustainable business.

The creativity of the artisans of both countries seems limitless. In addition to cans and wire, bottle caps, plastic phone cards, and vinyl records have all been turned into wearable art. Long-term relationships with Fair Trade buyers have ensured that this industry has a bright, fair future.Recycled Phone Card Dancing Girl Earrings


Mhotsi Arts - ZimbabweMhotsi Arts is a small artisan cooperative of twelve artisans, located in a township 15 kilometers South of Harare, showcasing handmade Zimbabwe arts and crafts. The cooperative was formed in 2004 in Zimbabwe, to enable market access to the North American market. In recent years, daily life for the artisans has become more difficult, as exporting from Zimbabwe has become a serious challenge.They hope to establish a demand and enter the international market with their quality beaded handicrafts in order to create a predictable and sustainable livelihood for their families.

 Handmade Life-Size Beaded Roseate Spoonbill


Mozambique BaobArtBased in Maputo, Mozambique BaobArt is a cooperative of skilled artisans, seeking international markets for their handmade Fair Trade crafts. In recent years the artisans have found it difficult to access international markets and collectively formed BaobArts to solve this problem. WithAfrican Blackwood Leaf Earrings access to markets comes the ability to support the communities and families.

Brass ImagesBrass Images was established in 1988 in the coastal town of Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, about a 4 hour drive out of Cape Town. The long lasting success of the project is due to the fact that the group develops new designs on a regular basis and pays great attention to detail and quality. Brass Images employs 15 people from the local community to help create high quality fashion jewelry. As demand grows, the organization hires and trains more artisans, providing sustainable income in an area in need of employment. Solid brass and copper are the base materials of the product. The artisans create the interesting patterns and effects on the jewelry by applying extreme heat. No dyes are used. Each item is entirely handmade and a one-of-a-kind piece of art.Roulette Red Tiger Eye Brass Earrings

PapercraftPapercraft skills training programs funded by EcoAfrica offer artisans a way out of endemic poverty and provide hope for a better future. The artisans are proud that they have become skilled at what they do, and will become candidates for future work when EcoAfrica fulfills new orders from around the world.Eco Africa Wildlife Greeting Card Kit

NOBUNTO NOBUNTO is a South African Fair Trade company that  creates high quality  hand-painted candles, ceramics and  handcrafted greeting cards with the utmost attention to  detail using mainly African inspired designs. Their mission  is,  in a region with high unemployment, to alleviate  poverty, not  only through development of industry but to be  socially,  ethically, and sustainably responsible. Based in  the small  village Napier, about 180 km east of Cape Town, NOBUNTO has provided employment to mostly woman of the disadvantaged community and guarantees an income for over 18 families. The unemployment rate in the area is in the region of 50%. The word NOBUNTO comes from the Sotho language, meaning "For the people".Hand-Painted Candles - Damisi Design

 B &B CraftsBen Ncube started B & B Craft & Recycling as an  individual artisan working in the new South African  tradition of making crafts from recycled materials,  such  as tin cans and discarded wire and  incorporating beads in  his designs. As the demand for  the products he made  grew, Ben, “the Can Man”  started training apprentices in  the art form, paying  them a fair price for the products  they  produced. The  training and production provides a  sustainable  income for a growing number of young people in   Cape Town.

Red recycled Seahorse

BAT Shop The Bartel Arts Trust, or the BAT Shop, is an urban-based  community art center that is a venue and facility for skills  training, promotion and exposure of disadvantaged and  emergent artists in South Africa. The focus of the center  is local arts, culture, crafts and entertainment that  reflects the Zulu, Indian and Western heritage of  KwaZulu-Natal. The difference at BAT is the grassroots,  the experimental, the cross-arts trends and the  innovation that is promoted at the center.Large Clunky Colorful Telephone Wire Bracelets

Esther Kariuki Esther Kariuki is an independent artisan who, in her  area of Kenya,  near Kitui, has organized and trained  women in her village to use the dried fiber of the  banana plant, which would normally be discarded. The  banana fiber is first dried, and then a light varnish  applied. Once this process is complete craftspeople cut  the fiber into thin strips to make several different items,  including boxes, Bao Bab trees and mobiles. The  varnish on the banana fiber with its many tones of  brown resembles textured tortoise shell.

 Esther ensures the craftspeople are paid a fair wage for  their goods, which has enableBanana Fiber Napkin Ringsd many in her small village to earn a sustainable wage.

GuguCrafters In 2002, as Zimbabwe refugees in South Africa,  Gugulethu Mapuranga, her family and friends  created the micro-enterprise of GuguCrafters.  Realizing that the craft sector in South Africa could  provide a much-needed sustainable income, the  artisans honed their skills and designed unique  jewelry items from tin cans and beads. While hoping  they had found safe haven from the political turmoil  and economic collapse in Zimbabwe, the group found itself in 2008 the victim of xenophobic attacks, with their small workshop looted. After two months, the group was able to purchasSmall beaded Zebrae new tools and materials with fair trade customers advances and begin again making unusual jewelry pieces from their homes in Cape Town.

 JacarandaJacaranda Workshop is associated with the Jacaranda  School For  the Mentally Disabled in Nairobi, Kenya.  The group primarily makes  jewelry, a skill that they  learned at the workshop. The jewelry is  entirely  handcrafted from brass and hand-made beads, most  of which are ceramic and are glazed and fired at the  workshop. The  workshop provides employment for  thirty mentally challenged  adults. Jacaranda Earring Brass Trapezoids

Jedando Modern Handicrafts Working with more than 100 individual carvers in Machakos,  Kenya, Jedando Modern Handicrafts markets products primarily  made of wood and bone worldwide. Carving is a tradition in Kenya  with the children learning the craft from their parents. Carved by  hand using only rudimentary hand tools, olive wood bowls, salad  serving sets, and animal-shaped napkin rings take shape from  pieces of olive wood, mahogany, and mpingo, or “African Ebony.”  An integral part of the organization’s function is to educate the  craftspeople on the need for reforestation to enable the products to  be available for years to come and offer a sustainable income for generations.

Olive Wood Salad Serving Set - Twisted Handles 11 inchWhile wood carving provides the major income for many in the Machakos area, other craftspeople earn a living by further enhancing the products including painting the napkin rings and carving discarded animal bone for the handles of salad serving sets. Often the bone is “batiked” by placing wax on the white bone and dipping the bone a dark brown/black dye, resulting in patterns African mud cloth designs.

Kahero FarmKahero Farm is just about 10 miles north of the Equator in the Great Rift Valley. It was a forest many years ago where people cut down trees for firewood and charcoal.

The new owners of the farm saved the brown olive (olea africana) stumps of trees that were cut down decades earlier and taught the local herdsmen to carve bowls and spoons from the aged wood. No two bowls are alike. Every bowl is made according to the grain in the wood. The only power tool is a chain saw used to cut the stumps into workable pieces. After that, the carvers use machetes, chisels, and other homemade tools, some made from old harrow disks. The bowls are finished with broken glass bottles and sand paper and are then dipped in liquid paraffin, which protects the beauty Olive Wood Salt Pot & Spoonof the wood.

There is no carving workshop on Kahero Farms. The workshop is where the herdsman sits chipping away while watching the sheep and cattle in the field. The herdsmen are paid a fair price for the pieces they create.

Murenga Arts & CraftsIn Zimbabwe, the simplest task is complex with hyperinflation and fuel rationing, yet craftspeople in Harare manage to produce colorful tin animals and insects out of recycled cans, steel wire and beads and Mbiras, also called finger pianos. This type of art is often referred to as slum art as the artisans work independently in their homes, which are often located in the slums.Handmade Black and White Lizard Batik Cushion Cover

To help bring these unique items to western markets, Murenga Arts and Crafts coordinates the work and ensures that Fair Trade practices are in place and payments are made so the artisans can experience a sustainable livelihood in the midst of an unpredictable economy.

Ilala WeaversIlala Weavers is situated at Hluhluwe within the province of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The organizations was established some 30 years ago, with a clear vision and objective of revitalizing and enhancing the age-old Zulu tradition of handcrafts, which at the time were in danger of being lost forever.

Today, Ilala Weavers helps over 2000 Zulu people, both men and women, to attain self sufficiency, by working from their homes and therefore retaining their lifestyle and rich heritage of basket weaving and bead work, which has been pTelephone Wire Bowl- (multicolored swirl)assed down through the generations by Zulu crafters, whose modern counterparts today produce stunning works of art, sought after the world over.

Only in my jewelry can all of Africa get along, Paul Muragu says, smiling. Working in a shed the size of a telephone booth in the Nairobi Westlands, Paul invites the bead enthusiast in for a view oPaul Muraguf his wall of beads that range from Ethiopian silver, to seeds, to glass, to bone, to aluminum pendants made from old Kenyan cooking pots. He has beads from Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, and many parts of Kenya, just to Hand Painted Glass Bead Braceletname a few. He makes many of the metal beads himself and buys glass beads from a womens cooperative in Nairobi that makes the beads from recycled glass. Paul loves to tell the secrets of the beads -- which promote fertility, which ward off the evil eye -- each beaded necklace is a microcosm of Africa.

SMOLArtSMOLArt is a group of artists who live in the rural village of Tabaka, Kenya, the heart of soapstone crafts. The name, a shortened version of Small, Medium, and Large Artists, refers to the size of the products the artisans make, not their stature. Established in 1990, SMOLArt is a member of IFAT, the International Fair Trade Association, and as such assures that the artisans are paid a fair price for their work. In addition, the organization support community development by contributing to projects that improve living conditions, education, and health of their members and the village at large.

Soapstone is mined from great pits in the area surrounding Kiisi, Kenya. The mined stone is then delivered to carvers who carve sculptures from the natural stone, the color of which ranges from cream, to pink, to brown, to yellow, to black, to a marbling of all of them. Once carved, the craftspeople smooth rough edges with sandpaper dipped in water and polish the piece to a high gloss or paint African motifs in brilliant colors with etched accents.Handcrafted Tan and Blue Soapstone Hippo

All of the products are completely handmade. The tools consist of household items from screwdrivers, hand drills, to switchblades. "Pangas," sword-like tools usually used for cutting down vegetation, are used to cleave the stone in the mines.

Soapstone, while very heavy, is very fragile. It is a form of talc, so standing water will affect the carvings. The paint used may also run if subjected to standing water. Light polish keeps it shiny. Chips can be smoothed with water and light grade sandpaper. With proper care, soapstone items will last generations.

TEMAKThe main mission of The Teenage Mothers and Girls Association of Kenya  or TEMAK is to provide vocational skills to young women, many of whom are unwed mothers who have been ostracized by their family and community, empowering the young women to earn a living wage. Operating out of a new center called the City of Hope in Kisumu, Kenya, the young women choose from job training in tailoring, hairdressing, secretarial skills, craft making, and computers. As a community center, the organization provides an educational forum for HIV/AIDS awareness and other health issues, as well as a clinic, a nursery, and a school. Many of the young women participate in making crafts, earning income to support themselves and their families. THandmade Tin Can Butterfly Pinhrough its income-generating arm Afrika Pamoja, the organization has also become a craft center for the artisans and craftspeople in the town of Kisumu by providing local and international sales outlets that make available a sustainable income for many in the community.

Zakale JewelryWorking with Jedando Modern Handicrafts the young men and women of Zakale Jewelry produce handmade jewelry using the skills of wire work and electroplating. The project first started as a garbage collection project in the slums of Nairobi. Recycling remains very close to the heart of the project and much of the material used is reNew Again Recycled Necklaceclaimed or recycled, including the cord found inside of tires, which is used to string beads.

World Travel ArtWorld Travel Art was founded with the Mission to create opportunities for marginalized craftspeople in developing countries to improve their livelihood. World Travel Art is fully committed to Fair Trade Practices and places the well-being and interests of the people we work with and the environment as essential values of our business. World Travel Art is a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF), the Trade Association that strengthens and promotes North American Moroccan Flat-Woven Kilim Area Rug (Orange)organizations fully committed to Fair Trade.

Recycled Phone Card Dancing Girl Earrings picture-82

UniquEco - Thousands of discarded flip-flops wash up on the African shoreline. This indestructible rubber creates an environmental disaster for the marine eco-system as it spoils the natural beauty of the beaches, is mistakenly swallowed by marine feeders, and prevents hatching turtles reaching the safety of the sea. Realizing that this flotsam brings a limitless resource to coastal communities in Kenya, UniquEco works with locals to collect and re-cycle discarded waste. The product range is diverse, from unique accessories and jewelry to one-off sculptures of amazing ingenuity, humour and beauty.

UniquEco provides a sustainable wage for unskilled beachcombers and bead-makers, to artisans and sculptors, allowing local people to maintain their way of life yet also provide for a better future for themselves and their families.        KJF002_9-2T



Creative Alternatives trains individual artisans in Western Kenya in the art of making crafts from readily available and environmentally sound materials. Water hyacinth—a weed that is clogging Lake Victoria—, tin sheets of misprinted bottle caps, recycled wire, tin cans, and discarded phone cards, all find new lives as the artisans of Creative Alternatives create greeting cards, ornaments, jewelry, and functional products, which they sell to provide a sustainable livelihood for their families. Operating under the auspices of Fair Trade, Creative Alternatives ensures the craftspeople with whom it works are paid a fair price for the products they produce.

Creative Alternatives trains individual artisans in Western Kenya in the art of making crafts from readily available and environmentally sound materials. Water hyacinth—a weed that is clogging Lake Victoria—, tin sheets of misprinted bottle caps, recycled wire, tin cans, and discarded phone cards, all find new lives as the artisans of Creative Alternatives create greeting cards, ornaments, jewelry, and functional products, which they sell to provide a sustainable livelihood for their families. Operating under the auspices of Fair Trade, Creative Alternatives ensures the craftspeople with whom it works are paid a fair price for the products they produce.

Handmade Dancing Girl Melon Slice Pin

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