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Incredible Craftsmanship

Incredible Craftsmanship

When refugees flee, they carry with them traditions, skills, and craftsmanship. MADE51 offers refugee artisans a way to use these assets to earn an income, rebuild their livelihoods and establish independence.

 

artisanal \-zə-nəl, -sə-, -ˈza-\ adjective: produced by artisans, either completed by hand, or with the help of hand tools or even mechanical means, as long as the direct manual contribution of the artisan remains the most substantial component of the finished product. The special nature of artisanal products derives from their distinctive features, which can be utilitarian, aesthetics, creative, culturally attached, decorative, functional, traditional, religiously and socially symbolic and significant. - UNESCO definition   

Our collections weave together rich craft with fresh design to create a unique visual fusion of heritage and modernity. 

 

[Burkina Faso. Photo Credit: UNHCR/6M Productions]

The traditionally nomadic Tuareg of northern Mali are renowned for their fine craftsmanship. Blacksmiths use hammers, tongs and anvils to hammer and shape recycled bronze, aluminium, and copper. The metal forms are then fused together with the artisanal leather, resulting in a unique collection of home décor and jewellery.

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[Burkina Faso. Photo Credit: UNHCR/6M Productions]

Basket making, one of the world’s oldest artisanal traditions, is found throughout Africa. The ability to create stunning, complex baskets is a well-respected skill, passed through generations. Techniques are often tied to local customs and materials.

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[Thailand. Photo Credit: Arthit Wngnithisathapor]

Karenni women spin threads by hand and weave them into fine scarves using back-strap looms. The looms are seemingly rudimentary – simple, portable systems of sticks and threads that are anchored around their bodies – but in the hands of talented weavers masterpieces emerge millimetre by millimetre. 

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[India. Photo Credit: SilaiWali]

Afghan women, refugees in India, have come together to create something new from the waste of the fast fashion industry. Working together, they create beautiful dolls from scraps of leftover fabric. The charming dolls are expressive and creative emblems of sustainability and contribute to building brighter futures.

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[Kenya. Photo credit: B Neptune]

Refugee artisans from East Africa working with RefuSHE specialise in hand-dyed textiles, using natural colours and tying techniques that create one-of-a-kind pieces.

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[Kenya. Photo credit: UNHCR/ W Swanson]

Burundian refugee and trainee artisan, Elijah Mpawenimana (right), and his trainer, Kenyan artisan John Chege, polish and refine hand-cast brass jewellery at the Bawa Hope workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. The delicate brass work is paired with beads from locally sourced or up cycled horn, wood and ceramic to create elegant pendants. 


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[Egypt. Photo credit: UNHCR/P Gomes]
 
Screen printing is a process that requires patience and practice. Designs are transferred one at a time by pushing ink through a fine mesh stencil. Artisans seen here are screen printing a limited edition run of hand-stitched organic cotton tote bags in vivid yellow and coral colours from their workshop in Cairo, Egypt.  

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 [Jordan. Photo credit: UNHCR/ J Cendon]
 
With access to markets, Syrian refugees can earn an income with their embroidery skills. Their intricate needlework is cited as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, and the ability to continue practicing this tradition while living as a refugee offers not just an income, but a way to build resilience, social cohesion, and a sense of belonging.


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