Angelica Chamula Crossbody / Clutch
Size: 11.5"w x 8.5"h with 2.5" gusset
Material: wool, cow leather, dark nickel hardware
Handmade in Mexico
Looking for a showstopper accessory this holiday season? The Angelica Chamula clutch is it. Soft hand-carded white wool accented by black leather goes with everything, and adds texture to any outfit. The detachable crossbody strap makes it practical for long nights out, but you might have a hard time letting to of it as it is lovely to hold onto in those cold winter nights. Consider it as a travel bag - keeping your valuables (fits a Kindle or mini iPad with lots of room to spare) safe and close at hand on the trip, and then removing the strap for a night out on your arrival. The white wool wears beautifully - water beads off of it just as it would off a sheep. These are painstakingly made and so are limited edition.
Impact: each bag provides 2 days of work to women, and 7 days of education for girls through the Catrinka Girls Project.
The wool for this tote is from San Juan Chamula, in Chiapas, southern Mexico, where it is traditionally gathered, carded and woven by Tzotzil shepherdesses and worn as a wrap skirt (for women) or poncho (for men). Sheep are considered sacred, are rarely sold and never killed for meat - consumption of mutton is forbidden by their religion. The sheep are kept for their wool, which comes in natural white, brown and black, and always looked after by the women of the community. Chiapas sheep are a specific breed that has evolved over 400 years to adapt to the mountainous environment, and most are offspring of an initial pair of sheep given to a couple as a wedding gift. Families earn up to 40% of their income from sheepraising. Sheep are believed to have souls and to experience emotions such as happiness and sadness.
The wool for each bag takes more than two weeks to prepare, starting with selecting the fibers of several sheep, combing them and hand spinning the thread (1 1/2 weeks), then preparing the warp and weaving on the backstrap loom (3 days), then felting the fabric, combing the hair back up and felting again (3 days).
The woman behind the bag:
The wool for this tote was woven by Angelica, 8, from Tzajalum, a small community of 300 in a forested valley. Angelica and her sisters grew up taking care of sheep and helping with the shearing. Angelica's mother and grandmother taught her to weave when she was 7 or 8. Angelica is married to and has one baby, Jose Antonio, who is 1 year old. They are hoping to build a better house before having more children. Photos are of Angelica, her sister Manuela, and their mother Maria.