Unique Batik Blog

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Guatemalan Traditions: Natural Dyes

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Income is more valuable than ever for women in Guatemala, as construction jobs are disappearing for their husbands. Many women are now the sole wage earners in their households. With pressure to support their families and raise their children, Natural Dye Co-ops are popping up all over Guatemala.

Unique Batik partners with natural dye artisans living in San Juan la Laguna, which is located on the western shore of Lake Atitlan. San Juan la Laguna is a quiet, clean village of about 8,000 residents.  Off the beaten (tourist) path, its resulting relaxed atmosphere allows visitors to get away from the bustle of the city and experience the genuine friendliness of the indigenous Guatemalan people.

In the co-op, the women have perfected ways to create dyes from coffee, avocado, berries, cocoa, tree bark, and other plants.

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Cotton thread is dyed in these homemade mixtures and then woven to make scarves,

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clothing, household items, and handbags.

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Shades of green pulled from avocado; Coral red plucked from achote seed; Neutral shades drawn from eucalyptus and guava.

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By using local plants, many of which are growing in the back yards of the women, sourcing ingredients takes much less time. Some of the plants used can even result in various colors, depending on how long the yarns are left to boil in the dye vats. For example, the sacatinta plant yields blue to grey to charcoal, all dependent on boiling time.

Support these talented women and shop our entire line of Natural Dye items HERE.

Download a printable Natural Dye Color Chart HERE. 

 

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New for Spring – Florecita Line

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Coco Chanel iconisized the Little Black Dress, a simple design that any woman could keep in her closet and dress up or down depending on the occasion. Created to match anything and everything, the versatility of a basic wardrobe piece is the reason that the LBD continues to resonate nearly 100 years later.

And our newly expanded Florecita accessory line is essentially the Little Black Dress for your purse! Timeless design in great neutral colors – a basic for any wardrobe. Bold prints and fun colors are always great for brightening up displays and keeping inventory interesting, but don’t forget the appeal of the basic accessory that never loses it’s season.

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At the top of the new line: The Florecita Paris – your new go-to large handbag.

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Available in an array of colors, this lightweight carry all boasts long leather handles for over the shoulder ease (think Longchamp…but Fair Trade!) and a large interior that you’re going to love! Plus with it’s neutral colors, it can easily translate from Spring to Fall – we love that kind of versatility!

Next up, the Florecita Purse.

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Just like it’s larger partner Paris, our Florecita purse has sweet leather detailing but also includes a cross-body strap. Perfect for the person who wants a small bag with a bit of room, the zippered top offers more space and keeps essentials safely tucked inside.

Another great cross-body option, the Florecita Snap.

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One of the best details of this small bag: the strength of the snap! Items inside will never fly out; a must-have feature in a sweet little travel bag.

Another great travel bag option: the Florecita Passport

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and for just the essentials: Florecita Double Pocket Cell

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Both the Passport and the Double Pocket Cell have zippered pockets for added security and a longer cross-body strap for ease of use.

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But one of the best features of the Pocket Cell: its lightly padded lining to keep cell phones safe. This case is great for a grab-and-go trip or to toss in a larger tote.

For the person who wants a coin zip with a little room, the Florecita Two-Zip.

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Doubling as a wallet, the two-zip gives you the option of carrying cards, coins, or both!

And finally, last but certainly not least, the Florecita Coin rounds out the collection:

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The entire collection is handmade in the highlands of Guatemala, by talented Fair Trade artisans with an eye for detail. Each purse and pouch is incredibly well-made, hand-crafted to used for any adventure!

 

 


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Artisan Profile: Francisco Jimon

deerThe mountainous village of Sacualpa in the Quiche region of Guatemala is off the beaten tourist path, and artisans there have fewer opportunities to sell their goods. Francisco Jimon leads a group of five people who make machine embroidered textiles using locally made backstrap loomed fabric. The group is made up of Francisco, his brother, Tomas, and other family members. They have been working together for twelve years and use the income from their crafts to supplement what they make working on other people’s farms as day laborers. They earn decent wages planting, tending, and harvesting crops of corn, beans, and tomatoes, but the work is seasonal, and their craft sales provide income they can count on when there is no work in the fields. Continue reading


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Fashion Adventures in Ghana

 

The Team

Part of the team at Eunice’s workshop

A few years ago, my family and I returned to the small village in Togo, West Africa, where I met my husband.  The trip was quite an adventure for all of us, but especially my 11 year old daughter and my 8 year old son.  We flew into Accra, the capital of Ghana, and since our village is right on the Togo/Ghana border, we decided to borrow a car and drive to Togo. Continue reading


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Mixing it up for Spring 2014

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San Antonio Stripe Scarf

For Spring/Summer 2014, we’re excited to introduce a new collection of Unique Batik bags and scarves made in Guatemala. These au courant accessories reflect a couple of spring trends, including nautical inspired stripes and animal print. Mixed with another spring trend — florals — polka dots and leopard print look fresh, fun, and ready to go anywhere. Continue reading