Community. Engagement. Advocacy. Humor.
Thank you to everyone who voted and helped to spread the word about the 15 fascinating projects listed on crafthaus for the past 15 days. I heard that the call for voting went out to many countries and responses came in from as far as the Philippines! A record total of 6943 votes were cast and the results for the 2012 Crafthaus Project Grant are in:
Congratulations to the organizers of Project #3: "Assistance to Southeastern Turkish Womenʼs Handcraft C...": Umut Demirguc Thurman and James Thurman!
Umut and James will start blogging the project's progress on crafthaus within the next few weeks enabling all of us to follow along as they embark to help this particular womens' cooperative create new designs for their traditional handcrafted items and find new markets to sell their work.
The Thurmans are currently also chronicling their efforts into a book that will be on the market at some point. They are actively looking for additional support from US organizations interested to team up with them and will be accepting monetary donations via crafthaus and their own website soon. Stay tuned.
This past May, I was invited by a craft school in Istanbul, Turkey to give a workshop on paper-resin jewelry. In the workshop, I had ten students all from different backgrounds: some hobbyists, some designers, and even a teacher of handcrafts from the southeast of Turkey. Her name is Müjde. She teaches in a womenʼs cooperative in the southeast of Turkey. I learned that there are many women's groups in Turkey who are trying to help rural area women to become more financially independent. These women have little education, so they have difficulty getting good jobs. They get together at this cooperative center and make handcrafts. They have great handskills but they have challenges designing because they donʼt have any design education. This cooperative sent one of their teachers to my workshop in Istanbul to learn the resin-paper technique because they know that they need to learn new techniques. These women generally make jewelry, accessories, and tablecloths through knitting, felting, crocheting, and tatting. However, they keep repeating the same things over and over again. They need designers! So, my wife and I, who is also a designer, decided to help them by brainstorming with them to create new designs.
In June, we traveled to the village of Ömerli, outside the city of Mardin in the southeast of Turkey, where Müjdeʼs ÇATOM is located. We spent three days there, brainstorming new designs, meeting the other women of the ÇATOM, and learning more about the area. The entire time we all felt like old friends—the personal connection and positive energy was incredible! We returned to the USA in July and have been sharing our recent experiences with many friends and colleagues. It appears that our enthusiasm has been contagious because everyone has been so supportive and encouraging. Several people are even anxious to get personally involved themselves.
Right now, not many people want to buy the ÇATOMʼs work because they don't make anything original. There is only one problem. We can consult for them for free, but we don't have money to buy materials for them! They need financial support to buy materials because just having some design ideas will not earn them money—they have to actually produce the design. Therefore, my wife and I decided to apply to this grant so that we can help them in providing materials as well. This funding will make a significant positive change in the lives of the women involved.
Again: Congratulations! Crafthaus is proud to be able to support this wonderful humanitarian project and we all look much forward to reading about your progress.
Connect. Communicate. Help.