In November of last year, 80 members of the Zenu community in northern Colombia gathered for the first time to participate in an afternoon of Artisan Olympic Games. Traveling from remote areas, men, women and children showcased their prowess in ancient pre-Colombian craft, competing in speed and skill. Everyone won, I'm happy to say, and received a reward of supplies from the Ibu Foundation: needles, thread, scissors, sizing tape; 36 pairs of reading glasses and 16 mobile phones were also distributed, along with a training session on how to use the phones to photograph their product for multiple retailers, as well as contact each other despite the distances that separate them.
The Zenu women in this picture are competing to see how well and quickly they can create a cuff, thanking you and the donors of the Ibu Foundation for this support.
What strikes me most about the report from the leaders is how this gathering raised the level of community respect for artisans. Once overlooked as commonplace work, the community began to appreciate the finesse of the artisans and their sought after creations, loved by Ibu and many others worldwide.
I've always admired the iconic black and white sombrero vueltiao of the Zenu and couldn't help but wonder if it wouldn't flatten out into a jazzy placemat? And the power cuffs you can't get enough of: wouldn't they make a charming napkin ring? Months later and many experiments in, I can say . . .oh, yes!
This month, we are excited to present our new Tabletop Line. Because we want all to win at this game. We want every woman carrying this tradition in her hands to sit down proudly among her family, to command respect in her village. And, at last, to take her place at the world table.
Susan Hull Walker