Most people know balsa wood as the super light-weight wood used for making...

by Center for Amazon Community Ecology October 10, 2016

Most people know balsa wood as the super light-weight wood used for making little glider airplanes. Several of our artisan partners use it for making turtle, armadillo and other Amazon animal ornaments. While we normally only buy crafts from non-timber products, balsa grows so easily and so fast that there's no danger about over-exploiting it. Camino Verde has a bunch of balsa wood trees growing at its farm on the Tambopata River. Its fruit is a tall spike that's full of fluff when mature. This fluff may have some commercial use, but it's fun to play with.




Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Center for Amazon Community Ecology

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ARTISANS SEPARATING CHAMBIRA FIBER

by Center for Amazon Community Ecology November 21, 2017

ARTISANS SEPARATING CHAMBIRA FIBER After artisans strip leaflets from chambira "cogollos" in the forest. In the comfort of their homes (or in this case in the artisan house in Chino), they grab the bottom end in between their big and fourth toe, make a nick at the top with a little knife and then pull down on the long strong fiber. This is the prime part of the leaflet for making quality handicrafts. They also separate out the secondary part (carapa), palito (spine), and waste material (bagasso).

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HARVESTING AND WEIGHING CHAMBIRA PALM LEAVES

by Center for Amazon Community Ecology November 20, 2017

HARVESTING AND WEIGHING CHAMBIRA PALM LEAVES After morning introductions at the Artisan Leadership workshop in Chino, we took a large peque peque (motorized dugout canoe) about half an hour upriver to a path that took us to the forest fields of three artisans. Walter showed the group how he attaches a saw to a pole and then taught Francisca how to use this to harvest a chambira "cogollo" (leaf spear). While artisans have traditionally used a machete to harvest these, the women in Chino was one of the first groups to use a pruning saw since it allow the artisan to cut this leaf without damaging the ones next to it. Each of the three small groups harvested 3 cogollos and then weighed them whole before stripping off the leaflets that they brought back to the village to process. Note that Graciela is holding the upper end of the cogollo with a shirt to protect her hand from the spines on the main pole. As usual, Francisca showed how to do every task with a smile. I'll discuss how these measurements will help the artisans. I hope these photos can help other people realize the amount of work fand care involved in producing a woven handicraft even before the weaving begins.

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ARTISAN LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP - DAY 1

by Center for Amazon Community Ecology November 18, 2017

ARTISAN LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP - DAY 1 We began our most recent artisan leadership workshop in Chino by dividing participants from different communities into small mixed groups to share their knowledge about the best ways to harvest chambira. It was fascinating to hear about their approaches and identify important things they did not know - such as how many new leaf spears grow on one tree per year. We then went to the forest to do some harvesting. But before getting down to business, two artisans split open a mature macambo fruit and snacked on its seeds.

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