Our ever growing basket collection exists thanks to the dedication and passion that our co-founder, Bee Friedmann, has for woven goods and supporting the rural communities making them. Born and brought up in South Africa, Bee has travelled extensively across her home continent to build personal connections with our basket weavers in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ghana. We wanted to share with you a little about the differences between weaving styles in each country and how baskets help to support the wonderful women making them.
Bee first travelled to Kenya in 2009 where she met with environmental student Robert Mwhehe. Robert was able to introduce Bee to the weavers we are still working with today. Living far off the beaten track about 4 hours drive from Mombasa in an area of extraordinary natural beauty, basket making is the main income for our women weavers. Made from sisal (a type of Agave grown prolifically throughout Kenya), the money from the sale of baskets to Artisans & Adventurers goes straight to each group and is divided fairly amongst the members so that older and slower weavers also benefit from the overall groups sales. You can read more about the Kasigau women weavers here.
Travelling to Ghana in 2018 was a life long ambition of Bee's. We'd been working with groups here for some time but it was Bee's first time to meet them in person. Ghana has a rich weaving culture and in addition to the sturdy shopping and laundry style baskets we love this country for Bee was able to source beautiful fans and rattles made from the same reed that grows in abundance throughout Ghana. The high quality of craftsmanship makes them a once in a lifetime purchase, if you can resist buying more than just one! They are a sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative to plastic and even cheap cotton shopping bags but also make for great storage.
Pictured (from left to right) Ghanaian Bolga Pot Bag 'Natural Stripe', Ghanaian Large Bolga Basket 'Kiwi and Watermelon'.
Bee described Uganda as the most beautiful country she's ever had the pleasure of travelling to. Here in a rural village she met with Ruth, the head of a group of incredibly creative weavers. Using a wrapping technique similar to that of neighbouring country, Rwanda, the baskets from our Ugandan group are like pieces of art. Topista is the lead talent within the co-operative and inspired by our crocodile rug came up with her own crocodile basket in response. House, cat and bird motifs are also common in rich earthy tones made from natural dyes. No two are woven the same, so only one of each is available. You can read more about how Bee sourced these incredible baskets here.
Pictured (from left to right) Ugandan Craft Collection Lidded Basket 'Houses, Birds and People', Ugandan Craft Collection Basket 'Bright Blue and Pink Houses'.
Rwanda is well loved for it's colourful bowl baskets which look as good displayed on the wall as they do when used in a practical sense. After Bee had made the initial contacts with weavers here, Amy travelled out in 2018 to try her hand at the craft and see the designs she had drawn come to life. Hand woven in Rwanda by charity 'Love With Actions'. Many of the mothers who weave, have one or more seriously disabled children, the sale of these pots provides necessary equipment such as wheelchairs, much needed education and a vital family income. You can read more about the artisans here.
If you enjoyed learning more about our talented artisans, have a look at our 'Meet Our Artisans' page on our website which we are continuously updating with our crafters stories. Also, if you're ready to purchase a beautifully made basket but need help picking out the perfect one, have a look at our basket buying guide here.