Although I make a lot of felt items to sell I also buy felt from Fair Trade suppliers. Over the last few years I have visited many trade shows to talk to suppliers to ensure there is traceability of the gifts I was purchasing and they are part of a Fair Trade scheme which you can read about here https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/ . The supplier I now buy from has been a Fair Trade organisation for over 20 years in Nepal so they have been able to build and sustain relationships with the surrounding families and towns.
The wool used by the wonderful artistic Nepalese crafters is New Zealand wool , brought in a raw state which is then washed, carded and dyed with a fantastic rainbow of colours. Then comes the hard work with the wet felting. with some wool, warm water, soap and a lot of elbow grease you can make some fantastic items from small keyrings an inch wide to vast blankets and clothing. If you have never tried wet felting it is very therapeutic – you can book onto one of our workshops and try it your yourself when we get beyond Covid.
Phew – it is the end of March and it has been a busy month with a lot of time spent planning and running Workshops. I have had a great time and met some lovely people who have joined me in Needle felting an array of flowers, fairies, keyrings and bears. There has been many a unique make and I love the smile on someones face when they have started the session with “I will not be able to make that” and finishing with “I love it as they hold up their creation with pride”.
Printing Round The Block
During March we also found time to run our first Indian Block Printing workshop. The afternoon started with a short demonstration of how to load the water based paint to the block and then apply the right amount of pressure to get a good print.
In the bag
By the end of the session the group had perfected their technique and printed a range of cards, tea towels and their own tote bag to take their stash home. I got to take home all the blocks and paint trays to wash up….
Coming next month….
So with April approaching and the clocks going forward we will have brighter evenings, a perfect opportunity to attend one of our workshops near you.
So what does fair trade have to do with felting? In addition the wool produced in the UK used for needle or wet felting gifts there are many other countries who rely on the product to provide an income and support communities.
Over the last year Wobbly pins have been looking to extend their range of products and unique gifts and have been sourcing items that are Fairtrade meaning we are giving something back to communities whilst supporting our love of crafts.
So what does it mean for the felt items that are we sell?. At our craft fairs you can buy our handmade items or a range of gifts that we have bought from a companies who are reputable Fairtrade suppliers. This means that they are working with communities to produce goods that they have paid a market rate price that enables decent working conditions and local sustainability whilst learning a trade.
That extra few pence that you pay for an item may not mean much to you but it does ensure that the small scale producer in the remote countryside that produced your gift has some choice and control over their future and is able to reinvest in their community.
Where does our stock come from?
One of our suppliers is Gringo Wholesale and they have been importing Fairtrade items for many years. Over the last few months we have also been visiting trade fairs to meet the people behind the products and we have made some new contacts with small producers in Nepal that we are hoping to work with and have our own range designed.