IN THE BEGINNING…
Late in the 1950's in the Haitian village of Croix-des-Bouquets, there lived a railroad blacksmith with a little time on his hands, a few simple tools, a hefty supply of scrap metal, and boundless imagination. Georges Liataud saw possibility where others saw refuse. Taking discarded steel drums, he cut off the tops and bottoms and flattened out the sides with a hammer to create a smooth surface. Visualizing his design - crosses at first, later images of village life and Haitian culture – he chalked it onto the prepared metal. Then, with a hammer and chisel, he cut along the chalk marks and the recycled metal sculpture took its shape. With dies and more hammering, the full character of the sculpture came forth in details applied blow by blow.
Today, the village rings with the sound of hammers against metal. Liataud had passed on his skills, and now, three generations later, hundereds of craftsmen pursue their art and their families benefit from fair trade. Haitian metal sculpture is known, admired, and sought after by serious collectors of oil drum art and enthusiastic decorators who recognize the versatility of this hand-crafted folk art form. As recycled metal wall art, or garden art, the oil drum designs are as beautiful and diverse as the artists who create them.
I began working in Haiti over 19 years ago with the goal of fighting poverty through art. During that time, we have worked with as many as 120 artists, cultivating business relationships, and building friendships. We have learned the good that comes from Fair Trade. Because of our firm belief in Fair Trade and its practice, every sale we make of metal art makes a positive impact on the artist who produces it. Those benefits flow through the whole workshop and create prosperity for their own family, workers and apprentices, and ultimately, the entire village. We are proud to be a part of that and we hope that as you admire your new piece of handcrafted, recycled folk art you will feel a bit of that pride as well. Casey Riddell