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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Principles of Fair Trade: Capacity Building

We have all heard the old adage “give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” Perhaps a better adage for the world of fair trade would be “buy fish from a November 2014 blog1 man for a fair price, he eats for a year; show him how to craft a better net, he eats for a lifetime.” Possibly not as catchy…but it’s a good illustration of one of the important principles of fair trade — capacity building.

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Hope for the Next Generation

blog3As Unique Batik looks for nonprofit partners to support in the regions in which we work, one of the most important attributes we seek is sustainability.  Will the organization be able to work effectively not only now, but in the future to make a long term impact instead of putting a temporary band-aid on the community’s problems?  One of the most impressive things about Asociacion La Libertad, or ALAS, is that they have a sustainability plan to secure the organization’s future.   ALAS, a nonprofit organization based in Guatemala, coordinates educational development and more for the neglected populations of Guatemala. Continue reading


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Introduction to The Modern Maya

maya5Once one of the most powerful civilizations in Central America, the Maya people remain an integral part of Guatemala. The rise of the Maya civilization began thousands of years ago and spread across what it now southern Mexico all the way to modern-day Honduras. The Maya civilization lasted longer than any other Mesoamerican culture that came to power in the area, and as a result, traces of the culture remain very much alive even today. Continue reading


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Education: The Gift of a Lifetime 

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I am very grateful to you for helping me in my studies so that I can achieve my goals — Elena, 8th grade.

In Guatemala, over a million children are not in school — one in 28, according to a UNESCO educational report. Many kids are working to support their families, while others would go to school if their parents could afford the fees. Although primary school in Guatemala is ostensibly free and compulsory, only thirty percent of students who begin school finish the six years of primary school. While school is theoretically free, in reality, there are high registration fees, costs for materials such as textbooks, and more, putting even basic education outside of the realm of possibility for many families. Those who drop out are disproportionately rural and from indigenous families, just like the ten students who are receiving scholarships through Unique Batik.

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Unique Batik: Behind the Brand

artisans3What do you get when you combine innovative design with inspirational programs in developing countries? Charmed objects and changed lives!

Here at Unique Batik, we think it’s time to let our fans know about the great work their purchases support, so follow our new blog to meet our artisans, get behind the scenes glimpses of our design process, and learn more about our fair trade business practices. There are so many stories to tell, and we can’t wait to share them with you! In the next month, you will hear from Carmela, one of the artisans behind our beaded jewelry , get an in depth look at our scholarship program in Guatemala, and have a sneak peek at upcoming bags for spring. And that’s just the beginning… Continue reading