Narwhal | Balsa Wood Ornament | Fair Trade
This unique, lightweight ornaments are created by a cooperative of artisans on Isla Solentiname, Nicaragua. Each ornament is inspired by nature, carefully hand-carved with a machete, and painted with realistic detail. Fair Trade.
Material: Sustainably harvested balsa wood and non-toxic acrylic paint.
Approximate size: 5" x 2"
MEET THE ARTISANS:
Isla Solentiname Balsa Cooperative
Isla Solentiname, Nicaragua
Isla Solentiname is located in Lake Nicaragua near the Costa Rica border. It is comprised of a group of four large islands and around 30 smaller islands. The total population is around 1000 people. We had learned about the balsa wood cooperative in Solentiname back in 2000 while working in Costa Rica. The idea of journeying to the island to investigate the possibility of a partnership was finally made a reality in 2015. The trek to Solentiname takes all day with a combination of car and boat transport. We were surprised to find on our first trip how truly undeveloped the island is. There is no electricity on the island and only footpaths.
The balsa is sustainably grown and harvested on the island. The cooperative members are excellent carvers who initially use a machete to remove the bark from the balsa tree and then a smaller paring knife to sculpt their creation. Several passes with different grits of sandpaper follow the carving and then finally the piece is ready to be painted. Most families work as part of a team on their orders, sharing the task of carving and painting. What we love most about this group is their willingness to help each other while they are designing new piece. It could be by correcting the proportions of a template or perfecting the shading of a piece.