May 22, 2017

Two new weaving innovations drawn from the past

SEPALI's newest team member, Katia
SEPALI's newest team member, Katia

The news is in!  SEPALI Madagascar team is now weaving raffia textile on a new peddle loom made from 4 pieces of bamboo, old mosquito nets twisted into rope, eau vive water bottle weights -- and the results couldn't be more beautiful.

Our newest team member, Katia, has taken the lead in weaving on our new loom.  Due to family illness and the loss of school fees, Katia has moved from Tana to Maoronatsetra until she can resume her schooling.  She quickly found her way to SEPALI!  When Docey Lewis arrived on the scene for a second visit in April and to teach team members how to weave, Katia was first in line.  She is now leading the effort producing woven textiles in a beauty of patterns.  These are not just ordinary mats but mats woven from newly dyed raffia.  The team is using new dying techniques, colors and patterns, all learned from Docey, that will be incorporated into new textile products for shoes, handbags, placemats and beyond!  Hopefully Katia will use her earnings to move on in school - who knows what her future might be with SEPALI - we are keeping our fingers crossed.

In addition to a new treadle loom made by Docey and that is being duplicated by the team, the team is also card weaving.  Card-weaving is an old Egyptian form of weaving using "tablets" or cards and best of all does not require electricity.  It will be perfect for village activity.  Colorful threads of silk, raffia and cotton are lined up in symmetric patterns othat result in decorative ribbons or braids whose breadth depends on number of cards selected.  Lalaina learned how to thread the cards and balance tensions to make the patterns Docey approved.  We can't wait to see what Lalaina comes up withon her own.

Finally, riffing on last year's dyeing techniques, the team had diversified its "Makira Moons" to Makira Sun, Makira moon over water, etc.  These beautiful pieces are on display at ICFF in New York May 21-24 in the International artisans booth! Stop by the International Artisans Booth if you happen to be in New York- today, tomorrow or Wednesday!  Otherwise, get in touch with the Tucker Robbins gallery in New York!

Docey compares quality of weaving to local weavers
Docey compares quality of weaving to local weavers
Threading the peddle loom with team
Threading the peddle loom with team
Makira sunrise over water
Makira sunrise over water
Lalaina learns how to set-up cards for weaving
Lalaina learns how to set-up cards for weaving
Weaving without a loom
Weaving without a loom

Links:

May 8, 2017

Insects for Food meeting in Madagascar!

Botswana coin featuring edible caterpillar
Botswana coin featuring edible caterpillar

Just back from MADAGASCAR!  The purpose of the trip was two-fold – for SEPALI to hold our annual training workshop - more about that in a future report on artisans’ progress - and to meet with individuals and experts interested in promoting insects for food in Africa and Madagascar.  The meeting organizing committee, Brian Fisher, Derrick Golden and Catherine Craig, focused on identifying potential species that could be farmed in Madagascar, how a commercial farming operation might be organized and implemented in multiple sites across Madagascar and what the economic and nutritional potential of insect food might be for Malagasy. Hence the goal of the meeting was to exchange ideas and to learn what other scientists were contributing to insect for food programs in other parts of Africa,

Alan Gardiner filled us in on his work to introduce sustainable harvests of Mopani caterpillars in Zimbabwe and Botswana. Did you know that the Botswana Mopani caterpillar industry is estimated to be worth 18.9 million pula a year (1 pula = 0.095 USD, hence, about 1.8 million USD) and employs 10,000 people?  Another speaker, Charlotte Payne, is working in Burkina Faso doing background research to lean how to break pupil diapause, or the resting period during pupil development, of Cirina butyrospermi, another Saturniidae silkworm. That silkworm feeds on the shea or shi tree leaves (Vitellaria paradoxa, Sapotaceae). Shea trees are not only the silkworm’s host plant but their seeds are the source of oils used in cosmetics. Hence farmers that farm the shea butter tree earn money from silkworms collected for food but also from seed oils. Because the silkworms are seasonal, Charlotte is hoping to figure out how to farm them year around. 

Mamy Ratsimbazafy wowed the group describing the diversity of insects with which the SEPALI team has been working. His findings show that there are always some insect species available to food year around in the Maroantsetra area.  Hence, farming different species at different times of year (instead of simply harvesting them) could make a substantial contribution to their conservation. 

Mamy explains SEPALI's work to raise Ceranchia
Mamy explains SEPALI's work to raise Ceranchia
CPALI President enjoys pupae and greens
CPALI President enjoys pupae and greens
SEPALI team compares mofo w and w/o insects flour!
SEPALI team compares mofo w and w/o insects flour!
International meeting to discuss insects for food
International meeting to discuss insects for food
Insects sold in market along with fish and eel
Insects sold in market along with fish and eel
Feb 27, 2017

Misaotra Betsaka!

Lalaina with her first woven banner
Lalaina with her first woven banner

Misaotra Betsaka ("Thank you very much")! 

We are happy to announce that we completed our fundraising goal for the first phase of our artisan training program! Hooray!

What does that mean?

Well, "phase one" of the Artisan Training initiative was dependent on a two-year fundraiser which was successfully completed this past month, but as you can tell from our reports, we didn't wait to get started. Investments in the project occurred as soon as they came in and we have already made significant progress towards our goals. 

Thanks to your generous contributions, we were able to build infrastructure including a new silk drying house, dyeing houses and a bunk house, we invested in equipment, trained our staff in new production techniques, hosted international consultants, and most importantly, provided year-round training, facilities and support for Malagasy women to become artisans and earn a living. Those same artisans now support their families, send their children to school and invest in their futures.

From a meager start three years ago of just 10-20 meters of sample textile, we now have a production capacity of over 500 refined products per year, close to 20k in silk revenue and a year-round dedicated artisan community investing in sustainable livelihoods. 

We are grateful for your support and encouragement and we can't wait to take the project to the next level. 

What happens next?

Phase two!

Phase two takes the Artisan Training project from a Maroantsetra-centered initiative out into the rural communities to provide sustainable income-generating opportunities for women where few opportunities currently exist. Phase two will focus on raffia, a native palm fiber that can be woven into textile without electricity. This will expand and diversify our silk project and products while continuing to support endemic forests and resources. Keep your eyes peeled for Raffia and Looms, coming soon.

Thanks again!

All the best,

CPALI/SEPALI Team

SEPALI team showcases 50 meters of raffia textile
SEPALI team showcases 50 meters of raffia textile
First handbag design workshop in the capital
First handbag design workshop in the capital
Handbags made by a design team in the capital
Handbags made by a design team in the capital
 
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