Product (RED) project in Mali! - Page 2 - U2 Feedback

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Old 10-15-2007, 09:30 AM   #16
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I bought some of the wrapping paper when I was there last week.

I saw the bag but I was too cheap to get it.
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Old 10-15-2007, 11:20 AM   #17
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I got 3 rolls of the paper and one of the music cards. I was very excited and part of me wanted to clean out the display! I'll be going back for the ornament when it comes out and buying several for gifts. I did see one of the bags there too. this is great
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:13 PM   #18
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The store I was in today already had the ornament, I wish I could have bought that too. I got a bag, the one called the finkumba. That was the one my friend and I liked best, I liked all of them though. She gave me a great idea, she thought that would be a good secret Santa/office gift.
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:40 AM   #19
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taken from the (RED) blog

From Daydream to Reality: The Making of the Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED mudcloth bag


Our friends at Hallmark visited Mali twice this year to work with bogolan (mudcloth) artisans to create the Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED Mali mudcloth bag (available at Hallmark Gold Crown stores).

Erin Dennis, an art director at Hallmark who went on these trips, shared her stories and photos with us to let us know how the bag was created and sent over here from Africa. Many thanks to Erin!

To see more of the Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED collection, go to HALLMARK.COM/RED. --bn


There’s so much to say about the two trips to Mali that I was part of... I hardly know where to start. This field might be as good a place as any:


This field was as close to a desert as I’ve been. It was acres of finely raked rows, and I was told it would be full of green as soon as the rains came in a few weeks. I couldn’t really imagine it as a farmer’s field, on a dry 100-degree day in June!

In September’s rainy season, the transformation was amazing:


Beautiful, green grasses and crops everywhere. They grew – like so many parts of our project have – quickly and in surprising and beautiful ways.

We met many warm friends and wonderful souls while in Mali. We told each of them along the way that they were going to be introduced to Americans through their hard work and beautiful craftsmanship.





Here are some pictures of people we worked with and some that just smiled and said hello. I know that’s not enough to really introduce you, so we’re doing the next best thing. We have made Mali mudcloth bags together, handmade by some of these fantastic people, and telling you the story of how they came to be.






Bogolan, or mudcloth, is a time-honored craft that started simply as a way to decorate a hunter’s garment. Women, already powerful in their roles within the village, created a visual language through the patterns. Each element has a meaning, and tells a story –usually about connection and family or village life… and isn’t that what Hallmark is about too?

A highlight was to meet Boubacar Doumbia, a well-known bogolan artist and expert. He was one of many who taught us about meanings in the patterns, which you see on our packaging.

One thing I thought was unique is how each one has a positive twist that is very Mali. For example, the crossroads – an X – where you and I might bump into each other, is a place to meet and have a conversation, and a place to honor spirits. The one that represents an alligator is surprisingly defined as “good neighbors,” because when you build your village next to a river, you need to figure out how to get along with your new neighbors!





Another expert was Samuel Sidibé from the National Museum of Mali, in Bamako. An elegant man, whose fabulous display of textiles at the museum is worth a trip!
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:40 AM   #20
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I just was in a Hallmark yesterday. No ornament there yet.
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:41 AM   #21
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grr picture limits...

I could go on for days about all I learned about the production steps. Here’s the quick notes: Each and every bag was:

woven of Malian cotton, one of Mali’s major exports,


dyed with n’galama leaves to a yellow ochre,


stenciled with a bleach mixture to create the designs,


stained with clay from the Niger River,
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:41 AM   #22
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last one i hope!

THEN:
cut,


sewn,



finished with labels,




and quality checked.





…all by Malian people proudly growing their businesses. We had a ton of help from the West Africa Trade Hub in Ghana, and local Peace Corps volunteers in Bamako and Mopti; this project would never have been successful without them. Lots and lots of discussion in English, French and Bambara had to take place to clarify and communicate ideas. It was a learning process all the way round. The artisans and entrepreneurs we worked with developed new ways of working and gained experience and confidence to potentially do more with other companies.

Above and beyond the work, they were also proud and excited to be participating in an important movement like (RED). They know that this project means good things for Africa, and for their communities and families. We also learned a lot about the resourcefulness of the Malian people – did you notice in the photo they re-use old x-ray films as stencils! Their inventiveness and artisanal craft is one key to joining in the global economy, and making the elimination of AIDS a reality.

And we were continually astounded by this group’s ability to pool resources and tackle a challenge like creating bags for Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED. I’d say I spent half the time, in spite of the heat, covered in goose bumps – proud of our team, our new relationships, and proud of the benefits of this work. Over the course of this adventure we made friends, shared many smiles, and are all proud – together – to bring a project with so many possibilities from daydream to reality.

Like one of our new cards says: “Believe in a thousand impossible things you never believed before!”



Source
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:44 AM   #23
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Oops, didn't mean to interrupt the flow of your posts, Mia.
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:46 AM   #24
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hey no worries! the picture limit made me take forever.

p.s. what is flow?

Sula do you recognize anybody in these pictures? I remember you had friends involved in this.
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Old 10-18-2007, 12:54 PM   #25
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holy crap, yeah, I recognize some of those people. Since my whole time in Mali was dedicated to working with people in this sector, I would run into a lot of people at different things like trade shows or at training events sponsored by Peace Corps or the Malian gov't. Not to mention that I actually got to try my hand at making bogolan a couple of times (it was so fun!).

I had the honor of meeting Samuel Sidibe on a few occasions when I lived in Bamako. Very knowlegeable about the history and culture of Mali. The exhibit he's sitting in front of is in the National Museum, which incidentally is where my bf took me on our first official "date".

All those pictures are making me homesick.
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Old 10-18-2007, 12:58 PM   #26
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It's great to see those pictures and see how they are made, it makes my bag even more special to me.
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