This last weekend I participated in the Brooklyn Craft Fair. Talking with one of the vendors I found out that Brooklyn used to have a very large craft fair each year but it had gone by the wayside a while ago. This one was started up new this year by someone who wanted to support the Elementary school. That is where it was held and where the proceeds from the door prizes and 50/50 raffle went to. I thought it was a very nice fair – many vendors and a good variety of things to buy. As usual at these events, I got in some of my own shopping. I also did quite well selling my books Rosebloom and A Burnished Rose. And as at the Sterling North Festival, I met many interesting book lovers.
One of those folks was Lyn Empey. She is the only Midwest rep for Laga Designs International, a wonderful organization developed by an American-Indonesian couple to help women in Sumatra, Indonesia – the area that was hit by the tsunami in 2004. Their goal is to empower women who sew handbags and accessories by giving them their own livelihood and trying to keep up the effort to help the devastated area. As with many natural disasters, once the media is gone, so goes the money. These women make lovely, lovely handbags and accessories following age-old designs indigenous to their region of Aceh, Indonesia. They are functioning works of art, really!
And to top it off, they sew these beautiful creations on treadle sewing machines. (For those who aren’t familiar, a treadle sewing machine is something your great-grandmother used because she didn’t have electricity. You sew by moving your foot up and down on a large foot petal.) You can see some more of their creations on their website, but until you look at one it person, it is hard to really appreciate their craftsmanship. They are more expensive than something that is mass-produced but knowing that most of what you pay for goes back to these women helps take a bite out of what they cost. And they are very durable too. The items are made out of a polyester blend and lined with a satin lining. Lyn showed me her purse, which was a year old, and you would hardly know it, and she has three young boys and works as a vet! I am told they easily wash up with soap and water. If you have any interest in purchasing one of these items, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). I am having a home party thursday, Oct 27th (Jane – you’ll get an invite!) and we get them at a better cost than on the website and without the cost of shipping. (Lyn is very generous to her party guests). I am looking forward to owning one of these beautiful creations and buying a couple as gifts.