FAIR TRADE/CHALATE ARTS
Women in Arcatao organized the Ana Elsy Embroidery and Sewing Cooperative many years ago. The coop members sew a variety of garments and linens and then decorate them with traditional embroidered designs that they sell to international organizations including MASCP.
MASCP orders t-shirts, bags, aprons, dresses, napkins, etc from the cooperative on a yearly basis and sells the items at three festivals in Madison—the Fair Trade Holiday Fest, the Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ FairTrade Market and the Madison International Fair.
MASCP members also work with the women in the Ana Elsy Cooperative to create new Fair Trade products and designs that they hope will be of interest to people in Madison.
Fair Trade is an integrated and multi-leveled concept. It means that fairly traded goods:
• are quality products
• were created by farmers/ workers who are getting a fair wage and work in decent conditions
• were produced with environmentally sustainable farming/ manufacturing practices
The women in the Ana Elsy Cooperative charge a fair price for their beautiful work taking into account the cost of their materials and the time they put into each item. They also maintain a small building for their supplies and add on a percentage for the upkeep of that building. They work together every afternoon and share the profits among the group.
The Ana Elsy Coop’s embroidery is a relatively rare type called colcha embroidery. It is called “colcha” because the durable stitch was originally used to repair torn blankets and quilts- “colcha" in Spanish. Colcha embroidery came from Spain during the colonial period and not many people know how to do it anymore. MASCP is proud to support the women’s expertise and entrepreneurial efforts.
MASCP also buys other fairly traded painted wood items from the La Palma Cooperatives and the CIS (Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad) Solidarity Store in San Salvador and weaving from the weaving cooperative in San Jose Las Flores In Chalatenango.
VIVA COLCHA EMBROIDERY!
Needlework Tips and Techniques
The Spanish word colcha means coverlet or counterpane. New Mexicans typically call any bed covering a colcha. Textile enthusiasts use the word colcha to identify an embroidery stitch; or any finished piece in which the colcha stitch is used.
CIS -Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad
CIS works with artists from marginalized backgrounds who are doing their best to improve their lives and communities. These artisans have formed cooperatives founded on the principles of fair wages, communal ownership, humane working conditions, and democratic participation.