Handcrafted art makes a difference locally and in Haiti

Zoe Greszler • Nov 5, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Some art work speaks to its viewer and takes on a special meaning. That artwork becomes even greater when it is done by hand and the viewer is able to understand how it was made.

That’s what Haitian artists with Beyond Borders is hoping achieve with their unique metal works of art, created out of a recycled/upcycled flattened 55-gallon metal oil drums. The artists draw or trace a design on the metal with a piece of chalk, then using only a chisel and hammer to carefully cut and decorate the pieces into beautiful masterpieces. Most of the pieces, after being shaped and smoothed are signed by the Haitian artist that made it, giving it an extra, personal touch.

From nature to religious to culturally inspired pieces, there’s a design for just about any taste or fancy.

What’s more, Beyond Borders is a fair-trade company. 

“Beyond Borders was created in response to the beauty found even in the midst of the hardships and challenges of everyday like in Haiti,” the organizations pamphlet states. “Using fair trade principles of fear wages, this piece helps provide the Haitian community real economic improvement and lives bettered through the creation and sharing of their beautiful art.”

Beyond Boarders owners Joel and Janet Ross, of Wakeman, are selling the pieces locally, including at Danielion Ideals The Bloom flowers shop, 14 E. Main St., Wakeman, where owner Daniel Stober is “excited” to share the pieces with the community.

“One I thought it was beautiful then I also thought in our area design-wise this could kind of high scale rough, rustic — that kind of fits in a lot of the homes I’m working in now has that barn wood and great texture and this looks wonderful on that,” Stober said.

“And much like most of the local artists that we have in the store, I am much more driven to this than I am a mass produced piece. Even though they replicate the design, it’s still a hand produced piece and hand crafted piece. I’m always more interested in that. I think it’s an unexposed art.

“Also because it’s a fair-trade company, our generations understand the importance of that understanding that these people need to have a way of making a living. It’s just good all the way around. I mean, people are literally making a living off of a piece of waste for a to of people. And it’s such an impoverished part of the world, for this to come out of it is great.

“There’s religious, painted things, we brought in a lot of the Nativity stuff, but again it’s just so unique and such a one of kind when you just think that everyone of these (details is done by hand with a chisel and hammer) it just kind of blows my mind. Even the things they cut with are so much more primitive. It’s not like going and throwing it into a CDC cutter like we would here and say ‘OK we’re going to make it fancy,’ — no. They’re all a little unique. There’s over three hundred designs, some of the designs are artist driven and some of the designs are driven by Joel and his wife.”

The pieces have interesting stories behind them, like the one Stober chose to feature.

“This piece we have in the store has an interesting story. This design was designed by a 12-year-old boy in Haiti,” he said.

“He made the first one. His dad is a regular artist within this artist group and so now he produces a limited number of these every month. So then he goes to school and then he goes home and works with his dad. This is his first design. Which is kind of common there, and if you think back 75 years ago, if your dad was  farmer you were a farmer. That culture still kind of exists (there).”

This piece and many others can be found at Danielions and online at http://www.beyondbordersfairtrade.com 

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